Van Avermaet Fights End Until the End to Finish Fourth at Paris-Roubaix8. April 2018, Roubaix (FRA) — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet showed his strength and consistency in the cobbled classics with a strong ride to finish in fourth place at Paris-Roubaix in another tough edition of the Queen of the Classics.
A fast start to the race saw multiple breakaway attempts neutralized before a three-rider move eventually swelled to nine riders that formed the day’s breakaway after almost 50km.
The peloton sat up and allowed the group to gain an advantage of 8’30” before the first of 29 cobbled sectors which started after 93.5km, of the 257km course.
On the approach to the first sector at Troisvilles à Inchy, Stefan Küng crashed and was forced to abandon the race and the bad luck continued for Jürgen Roelandts who was caught up and later had a flat tire before abandoning.
BMC Racing Team’s riders fortunately avoided a big crash in the bunch but were caught behind which saw Van Avermaet stuck in the second group of the peloton when a split formed, while Jempy Drucker managed to make the front selection. Michael Schär, Nathan Van Hooydonck, and Francisco Ventoso rallied around Van Avermaet to bring him back and their solid teamwork saw the groups come back together with 142km to go.
With muddy and slippery cobbles wrecking havoc, Van Avermaet moved up to the front to avoid trouble and managed to avoid many crashes that played out.
Multiple attacks came from the bunch, starting with Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) on the Troupe d’Arenberg, and Drucker attacked to bridge to the group forcing the bunch to chase behind and bring the groups back together.
Van Avermaet tested his legs with an acceleration with 55km to go and from there, Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) attacked to bridge to the remaining three breakaway riders inside the final 60km.
Behind, Van Avermaet formed part of a select chase group sitting 40” behind the leaders with 40km to go as they prepared to tackle the final 10 sectors.
Up ahead, Sagan and Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) forged on at the front of the race and continued to hold their advantage between 40 seconds and 1’20”.
Despite a strong chase from Van Avermaet and the other chasers, Sagan and Dillier entered the velodrome together and battled in a sprint finish to the line which saw Sagan victorious.
Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) broke clear of Van Avermaet’s group before entering the velodrome, leaving Van Avermaet to battle and secure fourth place.
Küng has been taken to hospital for an X-ray of his chin and jaw and an update will be provided as soon as possible.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
"It was a hard race again. I tried to open up the race I think with some good efforts. It was hard to get away and then Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) went and then, it was not on us to really make the race hard. From there, I tried to follow and do a good result. I was hoping to catch Peter back but I think he also had a lot of help from Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) to really keep his lead. Then, it was more about racing for third place. I am a little bit sad that I am not on the podium because I really wanted to react to everything but when I reacted to Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) then went and my legs were full so it was not possible."
"It is always so hard. You know you are going to lose two or three guys anyway. I was behind the crash on the first sector so it was good that Francisco Ventoso and Michael Schär could bring me back there. That was the most important thing. It was nice to then have one guy next to me with Jempy Drucker there. He covered some attacks and tried to control the race. I had a good feeling and I was really happy with my form and actually with my performance. Of course, I wanted to win but I know how hard it is to win here. It is a good race for me and I am pretty happy with my result."
"In the beginning, it was really slippery and crazy. For me, the hardest part is always the first sectors when you are trying to get into position. Afterward, I always have a good position and it goes much easier. It was a tough edition of the race but I think I made the best of it. Tactics are always hard. You have to choose the right moment but I think I made a pretty good race in the end."
Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:
"It was not the best start on the opening cobbled sections with Stefan Küng crashing but then Francisco Ventoso, Nathan Van Hooydonck, and Michael Schär really pulled hard to bring Greg Van Avermaet back. At the moment of the crash they were in an okay position, not at the front but not at the back either and were maybe around 40th position. The crash was just in front of them so there was no way to avoid it. It was good that we were able to make it back but we had lost two important riders, Stefan and Jürgen Roelandts. They were our power for the final. Jempy Drucker was amazing today, he really filled that gap. He was the guy that stepped up and did an amazing race next to Greg and had the confidence to take it on. Greg then had the opportunity to do the race and to be with the other leaders at the end."
"Of course, you never know what can happen and Quick-Step Floors still had the numbers but maybe today they were not really the team to watch. Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) went and found a strong Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) at the front who was able to help him all the way to the finish. It was possible to bring back the leaders but like always, nobody was ready to go 100% behind as they wanted to keep some energy for the sprint. That's what we saw happen as at one moment they were 40 seconds behind and if they had really gone full gas it would have been possible to come back. But, in that situation with three fast guys including Greg there, and Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) trying to go in the final, I thought it would unfold like it did."
Compiegne > Roubaix (257km)
Top 3: 1. Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe), 2. Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale), 3. Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 4.Greg Van Avermaet, 23. Jempy Drucker, 51. Michael Schär