Race report

Team Sunweb on the attack at Paris-Roubaix

Paris-Roubaix

The Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix, lived up to its “Hell of the North” nickname with non-stop action all afternoon, as the peloton faced 54.5 kilometres of cobbles littered throughout the 257 kilometre long course. To tackle the tough terrain that lay ahead, Team Sunweb were using a special Cervélo R3 for the race.

A strong headwind at the start of the race made it nigh on impossible for a breakaway to form. Lennard Kämna was part of an early group that only gained a handful of seconds and it took over 50 kilometres for a group of three to get a gap reasonable sized gap ahead of the bunch. Casper Pedersen made it into trio on what was his Paris-Roubaix debut but with the peloton chasing behind, they were only ever given roughly 30 seconds. More tactical racing ensued before a large group of over 20 riders escaped and another Team Sunweb debutant, Cees Bol, made the split. However, given the large composition of the group and a few key teams having missed out behind, the race was all back together with over 100 kilometres remaining.

Bol, alongside Nikias Arndt and Asbjørn Kragh Andersen, were attentive at the front of the race as the day turned into a race of attrition with riders dropping out the back through the famous Trouée d’Arenberg section of cobbles. The pace continued to remain high with Bol and Arndt at the head of the peloton inside the final 60 kilometres. However, after a very tough 200 kilometres in the legs, the two Team Sunweb riders missed the crucial attack which would end up going on to form the race winning move.

Arndt was the first rider home in 44th place, while debutant Bol dug deep to finish his first Paris-Roubaix in the same group as Roy Curvers.

At the finish, Arndt gave an idea of just how tough the race was: “That was the hardest edition of Paris-Roubaix I’ve ever done. The team tried hard in the beginning to be in the breakaway and eventually the bigger move went with Cees in, which was good for us. From thereon it was basically full gas for everyone in the peloton: there was no moment to stop for a nature break or take a breath. Towards the end my legs were getting empty and on Mons-en-Pévèle I dropped out of the main group. I tried to make it back but it was not possible unfortunately. For me it was a little disappointing but the team tried everything we could today.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “We started with the plan to try and get into the break and it was a big fight in the peloton to get ahead. It was almost at the first sector when a break of nine got away, with Cees in the group just behind and they all came together, with Cees in a really good position. We had lost some guys already at that point, with Max having a puncture and Casper was dropped after having made a big effort to form a group of three guys before Cees’ group got clear. Nikias and Roy for a while were in a good position in the peloton, but in the end, it turned out we didn’t have the legs to play a role in the final.”