Roubaix gallery: Lack of luck thwarts chance for victory

EF Education First Pro Cycling put two in the top ten at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Sep Vanmarcke bested Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) in a two-up sprint for fourth. Sebastian Langeveld managed tenth place from the first chase group.

Fourth and tenth. They’re nice results on paper — but when you have the legs and the head for the victory, they’re terribly disheartening.

“The entire team was committed to the plan,” said sport director Andreas Klier. “Each of of them gave 100 percent. Commitment isn’t everything, of course, you also have to put it down on the pedals. That also worked.

“In the end of the day, we didn’t stand on the podium,” Klier said matter-of-factly inside the Roubaix velodrome. “I’m not disappointed but I’m also not super happy in this moment. If you ask me in 15 minutes, I’ll feel different. I feel sorry for the team that neither Sep nor Sebas got in the top three because the legs were there, the head was there.”

The escape took nearly 100-kilometers to form due to headwinds. When the move went, we had Matti BreschelMatti Breschel in it.

Taylor PhinneyTaylor Phinney was out of the race before the mid-point, sidelined with a mechanical and then missed by the team car in the chaos of the early cobble sectors.

Sep VanmarckeSep Vanmarcke and Sebastian LangeveldSebastian Langeveld made selection after selection in the race’s second half. When Peter Sagan jumped 50-kilometers out, Vanmarcke followed, putting himself into the eight-rider, turned five-rider move that would contest the final. Behind Vanmarcke, Langeveld took on a familiar role, blocking the chase group.

Over Carrefour de l’Arbre, Vanmarcke’s derailleur, smashed up a bit earlier in the day during a crash, got stick, and Vanmarcke was unable to shift during the all-important finale.

In a tear-filled interview on the grass field infield of the Roubaix Velodrome, Vanmarcke told the press: “I’m very, very disappointed of course. After all what happened the last weeks, I had to fight very hard to come back, even when I couldn’t train. Last week I did everything I could with a bad knee to still train and get the best level possible, and today I knew if I did everything perfect, I could still be close to victory.

“And today I did everything perfect. I didn’t make one mistake. But then on the Carrefour de l‘Arbre, my derailleur stopped working. I went into the 11 and I couldn’t do anything anymore. I had to wait for 10-kilometers for a new bike and it killed my legs. I had to let the victory go. It was in my legs, but I couldn’t fight for it.”