Dutchman cyclist Dylan Van Baarle remained calm under tremendous pressure as he bucked a slow start to win the Paris-Roubaix Classic on Sunday, April 17th.
The 29-year-old daredevil, a familiar face in the race with eight appearances to his name, beat out Wout van Aert of Jumbo Visma and Stefan Kung of Groupama FDJ, who finished second and third, respectively, to hoist the title.
Van Baarle makes sterling comeback
However, Van Baarle’s victory didn’t come easily as he suffered a puncture at one point in the race, resulting in him being left behind by his competitors.
“I know how it is to be the last guy. Last year, I was out of time limit. But this year, I had goosebumps. I can’t describe in words what the feeling was. I tried to enjoy it as much as possible,” he said.
As the sectors held forth, Van Baarle built a new alliance with four strong riders that included Bahrain Victorious’s Matej Mohoric, before creating a needed separation at Camphin-en-Pevele.
Van Baarle continued to push the pedal to the metal as his lead grew on the ultimate five-star sector at the Carrefour de l’Arbre. This pushed him all the way in the final kilometers despite efforts from van Aert and Kung, who bridged across to the chase group behind.
“I just checked just to make sure I was alone, that they didn’t flick me, that there wasn’t still guys up the road. Now it’s super special, especially when the team car with Servais Knaven and Roger Hammond came next to me,” Van Baarle said.
Van Baarle enjoyed a relaxed final lap of the fastest edition in the race’s history to sustain his incredible run of results. Prior to his historic win at Paris, he was coming off a second-place finish in last year’s road race at the Leuven World Championships.
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Van Baarle’s triumph comes from Michal Kwiatkowski’s victory at Amstel Gold Race and neo-pro Magnus Sheffield’s upset win at Brabantse Pijl.
Not to be outdone were Ben Turner and youngster Tom Pidcock, who have shown some glimpse of improvements over the past weeks.
“We sat in the meeting and it’s all about ‘here is the first sector of cobbles and how do we enter into that sector? I just sat there thinking it’s quite a lot of racing to go before then, so let’s look a little bit earlier, so we just created tension to see what would happen, basically,” said Hammond, who is the team head of racing.