Dutchman Sebastian Langeveld snagged the final spot of the Paris-Roubaix podium from a five-up sprint on Sunday. It is the first time the 32-year-old has appeared on the podium at one of cycling’s five Monuments. Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) bested Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step) to win the Queen of the Classics.
Langeveld’s result closes out a consistent cobbled classics campaign for Cannondale-Drapac. The American-registered squad saw Sep Vanmarcke finish third at Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Dylan van Baarle narrowly missed the podium at Ronde van Vlaanderen where he finished in fourth place. He also posted top ten finishes at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke.
Paris-Roubaix viewers saw #GreenArgyle all over Sunday’s race. Will Clarke and Paddy Bevin were among the first attackers. Wouter Wippert, Ryan Mullen and Tom Scully also attempted to get up the road. When the race hit Troisville, the first of the 29 cobble sectors, Cannondale-Drapac had five riders tightly packed together in the first third of the field. Heading into the Arenberg Forest, Cannondale-Drapac exited the five-star sector with four riders in the group of around 40.
The 257-kilometer race that snakes down from Compiègne to Roubaix is rightly known as a race of attrition. As the shrinking peloton tackled sector after sector, Langeveld and Van Baarle emerged as contenders. Both riders not only covered moves but initiated moves of their own.
Fourteen riders exited Mons-en-Pévèle together around 30-seconds behind Daniel Oss (BMC). Along with the usual suspects in Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Van Avermaet, Langeveld and Van Baarle had made the selection.
Langeveld forced the selection on Carrefour de l’Arbe. Only Van Avermaet and Stybar could respond. The trio headed toward the velodrome with 42-seconds on their nearest chasers, two of whom would catch them in the last lap
Langveld said he had “goosebumps everywhere” as he entered the Roubaix Velodrome with the win in play. In post-race interviews, he described feeling “very, very happy” with the result.
Cannondale-Drapac lost its two team leaders ahead of Paris-Roubaix. Both Sep Vanmarcke and Taylor Phinney were sidelined for the final cobbled classic due to injuries sustained at Ronde van Vlaanderen.
“We have other cards to play,” insisted Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters.
And we played them.
Comments from Sebastian Langeveld
On the way the race unfolded
“The race was full-on the whole day. There was not a moment that the peloton stopped, so it was a really fast edition of Paris-Roubaix. There were a lot of tired riders already with 50, 60 kilometers to race. For sure I was also tired, but I knew I had good legs.”
On decisive moments
“I had one bad moment in the race, I don’t know what sector, where I had a flat tire. I was almost out of the race, but I came back and I saw a lot of tired people. That’s when I believed and from there it was race on. I attacked to get into the breakaway. I got a couple good people with me. I attacked again on Carrefour. It was man-against-man there.”
On the sprint and the result
“It’s a special sprint. I’m not a track rider. A couple years ago, I came into the velodrome for second place, and it was special then. Now too. Greg Van Avermaet is the Olympic champion and a really fast guy. Stybar is always really, really good and he was sitting on for a couple kilometers. Third place was my spot today, and I’m very, very happy.”
“Don’t forget that I’ve never won a monument. I won Het Nieuwsblad, but…. I was seventh, eighth in Roubiax. A podium for me is a really high, really top result.”
On illness and injury
“The last two years, I was never 100 percent for the Classics, and in the Tour de France, I had to abandon the last two years with illness. At some point, it is enough. This year, I was riding on a really, really high level, and it didn’t come through in the results until today. I’m very, very happy and very, very proud.”
Comments from Cannondale-Drapac sport director Ken Vanmarcke
“Everything that I saw and everything that I heard was that we were really strong – one of the best. In the end to have Sebastian in third place, we can only be proud. It’s a really strong team today, and we can work really hard for something more in the future.”
On racing without Phinney and Vanmarcke
“The guys who were left had the chance of a lifetime today, and they took it. They all did. That’s really nice. You see a lot of times that without the leaders there is no team. In this team, that didn’t happen. Everyone stayed really focused and took his chance. That’s amazing to see.”
Comments from Jonathan Vaughters
On racing without Phinney and Vanmarcke
“You know very surprisingly, and this is probably because I hands-on coach Dylan and Sebas and look at their data every single day, I was probably the one person who knew we were going to be fine. I knew we were in a position to have a good race.”
On the race-defining moment
“I think the key moment for me was actually when Sebastian flatted. I thought: “oh no there it goes’ and then I saw how fast he made it back to the front group. That immediately made me think he had the goods today. You don’t come back from a flat tire that quickly unless you’re really really riding well. At the moment I was pretty confident that one of the guys would contend for the win.”
On context for the result
“Sebastian sort of started his career as a huge hope and talents for the spring classics and was never able to completely get there. He’s endured a couple years where he wasn’t quite able to breakthrough. This podium is finally the confirmation of the talent he showed all those years ago when he first won Het Nieuwsblad. He’s finally showing what he’s capable of when he’s at his best level.”
“From a team perspective, the greatest thing for me about the result is what it says about our character. When Sep and Taylor were out, that would have demoralized most teams. Most teams that lose their leaders are going to show up with their tails between their legs and wouldn’t make a fight out of it. These guys didn’t let it drag them down.”
On coaching Langeveld and Van Baarle
“I’m super happy for them, but I’m super happy for any of the riders. As a coach, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I really don’t want to screw up. I believe in the riders I coach, and I see myself as a conduit for their talent to come out. And when it does, it makes me happy for them. They put in the work, not me. I just tell them the work to do. I’m every bit as happy when our guys that I’m not coaching does well, but when it’s a rider I coach, it’s more of a relief — a thank goodness I didn’t screw that up.”
Bilder via Cannondale-Drapac