April 15, 2001
Paris-Roubaix 2001 – Compiègne – Roubaix : 254,5 km
100 years is a long time in cycle racing, and only a few events have reached that milestone.
April 15, 2001
Paris-Roubaix 2001 – Compiègne – Roubaix : 254,5 km
100 years is a long time in cycle racing, and only a few events have reached that milestone. Paris-Roubaix was first run in 1896 and has withstood the test of time to become one of the monuments of the sport. It’s an incredibly tough race to win – a combination of experience, good luck, good positioning, good legs and a good team is necessary in this race more than any other. The brutal cobblestone sections, which total 49.3 kilometres this year, really shape the race. There are 26 of them, the first at Troisvilles after 100 kilometres. The last is in Roubaix, just before the riders enter the velodrome for the final sprint. The cobbles are tough on both bodies and bikes, and normally study equipment is really put to the test in the Hell of the North.
Basking in the sparkling late afternoon sunlight and the glow from thousands of his delighted fans in the Roubaix Velodrome, tears streaking his mud-encrusted face, Johan Museeuw (Domo-Farm Frites) crossed the finish line to win the 100th Anniversary edition of Paris-Roubaix after his runner-up spot last year.
Museeuw sealed his win with an incredible 41km solo break and a victory salute of ten outstretched fingers, signifying his tenth career World Cup win. After his emotional second place to Andrea Tafi last week in the Tour of Flanders, Museeuw also took over first place in the 2002 World Cup standings.
“After Flanders, I was very disappointed,” Museeuw told French TV in the velodrome infield,” so today I wanted some revenge – to come back and win my third Paris-Roubaix.”
In fact, Museeuw was so vexed after last week’s loss in “his” Flanders (a three time victor, he wanted to crown his career with a record-breaking fourth Flanders win) that he threatened to quit, but as has happened before in Museeuw’s career, the hard-headed Belgian has what it takes to overcome defeat like the true champion he is.
With his centenary victory today, the 35 year old Museeuw’s 13th participation in the Queen of the Classics and the 49th win overall by a Belgian, the man from Gistel joins post-war three-time winners Italian Francesco Moser, fellow Belgians Eddy Merckx and Ric Van Looy in the Roubaix pantheon, and has surely earned the title of the top classics rider of his generation. He now trails only Roger DeVlaeminck’s four Paris-Roubaix wins.
On this cool, windy day marked by showers and slimy, slippery pavé, last week’s Flanders champ Andrea Tafi (Mapei-Quick Step) ended up 17th, 9’11” behind. Tafi doesn’t like the wet and cold and the tough Tuscan had some bronchial problems this past week. When Museeuw made his first move in the pavé of the Arenberg Forest, German rider Stefan Wesemann (Telekom) finally had his World Cup breakthrough today for second place, after last year’s disappointing ride due to shoe problems.
Aside from Museeuw’s performance, the ride of the day certainly belongs to 21 year old Belgian Tom Boonen (USPS), who had a sensational day to finish third, just behind the Telekom man. Perhaps the shape of things to come where Belgian classics riders are concerned, Boonen has been a top amateur for years in Belgium, with lots of experience on the pavé (see cyclingnews.com’s interview with USPS team Director and former Paris-Roubaix champ Dirk DeMol). Neo-pro Boonen was already in the early break of the day, waiting for USPS team leader George Hincapie to come up and the way things worked out, he ended up on the podium in his first pro Paris-Roubaix.
Hincapie is having a solid classics campaign so far this year; his fourth place in last week’s Tour of Flanders demonstrated he has the legs, but so far this year, not the luck. Once Museeuw flew the coop, only Hincapie and Boonen could follow him, but on the slippery pavé section #4 at Camphin-En-Pevele with 18km to go, Hincapie crashed into a ditch on the left side of the road and lost Boonen’s wheel for good, eventually being caught by the chase group just behind.
How it unfolded
In fact, Boonen was up front all day while the experienced Museeuw made the key moves later. With a strong northeast wind from the English Channel and intermittent showers, the peloton began forming echelons on the way to St. Quentin. After 38km and with 223km to go to Roubaix, 33 riders had a half-minute lead on the peloton, with Domo, Mapei and Big Mat in evidence.
But the wind, rain and slippery pavé took its toll and by Haveluy, the 16th of the 26 pavé sections, there were 13 riders away with a 4’30” lead on the peloton. Behind the break, USPS was setting a strong tempo, led by ex-mountain biker Floyd Landis and Tony Cruz. In front, Raphael Schweda (Coast) and Nico Mattan seemed to be doing much of the forcing, with Domo men Cassani and Van Heeswijk keeping a lid on things awaiting the inevitable arrival of Museeuw from behind.
The real race began to take shape in the Forest of Arenberg, pavé section 16, where Cassani attacked up front, sapping the legs of his rivals, while 4’00” behind, Museeuw blasted away on the front of the chase, Eventually his forcing broke the chase apart, with Museeuw joined by Hincapie, Lars Michaelsen (Coast) and Wesemann (Telekom) as part of the ever-changing chase group. As the riders took their musettes at the second feed zone in Orchies with 60km to race, the face of 2002’s Paris-Roubaix began to take definitive shape.
Up front, the remains of the original break was an eight-rider group, with Domo men Cassani and Van Heeswijk, Boonen, Schweda, Tristan Hoffman (CSC-Tiscali), Hans De Clercq (Lotto-Addeco), Bodrogi (Mapei-Qstep) and Mattan. Two minutes behind and closing fast was the Domo-ed chase group that had emerged from the peloton.
As they hit pavé section #12, Museeuw accelerated and only last year’s winner Servais Knaven (Domo), Hincapie and Michaelsen could follow. This pursuit match continued, with De Clercq and Mattan attacking on every pavé section and various elements of the break chasing them down and reforming.
Museeuw continued to force the pace, inexorably closing the gap on the front group. Just before the notorious Mons-En-Pevele, pavé section #9, the seven chasers joined the five leaders for an even dozen of mud-caked desperado bikers, looking to get to Roubaix no matter what.
But as usual in Paris-Roubaix, the status quo didn’t last long. Once the riders hit pavé #8 in Merignies, a tough but short 700m section, Museeuw took off and it looked like it was for good.
“I thought it was the right moment and so I went – I had a flash in my head,” said Museeuw, “is it too far? Because there were a lot of good riders there – Hincapie, Tom Boonen…”
But go he did and only the two USPS men could follow Museeuw. Hands in the hooks, mouth wide open, snot dripping from his nose, Museeuw powered his huge gear away from one and all, showing the immense class and experience of a man with a date with destiny.
Three pavé sections closer to Roubaix at #6, Le Moulin De Vertain, a newly-restored tract only half a kilometre long, Museeuw had gained 25″ on the USPS duo and 45″ on the chase with two of his DFF team-mates with 30km to race. Domo DS Wilfried Peeters, Museeuw’s perennial team-mate, drove up alongside to tell him the situation and Museeuw drove himself even harder towards Roubaix.
As if pushed by invisible hands, Museeuw’s gap continued to grow and by the notorious Camphin-En-Pevele pave #4, he had 1’35” on the USPS pursuit team, which came asunder when Hincapie crashed into the drainage ditch on the left side of the farm road. Boonen continued alone until a hard-charging Wesemann came up to the powerful young Belgian, eventually beating him in the sprint for runner-up spot in Roubaix.
But nothing would or could stop Museeuw today. He flew over the cobbles today; intuitively choosing the best line to ride and putting the competition further and further behind. Wesemann and Boonen came in just over three minutes behind, while Hoffman took the sprint from a seven man chase group four minutes back. Tristan Hoffman (CSC-Tiscali) took the sprint for fourth, with Hincapie sixth and US Champ Fred Rodriguez (Domo), a respectable 27th in his first Paris-Roubaix.
1 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites 6.39.08 (39.35 km/h)
2 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Team Telekom 3.04
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) US Postal Service 3.08
4 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC Tiscali 4.02
5 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team Coast
6 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service
7 Thierry Gouvenou (Fra) Bigmat.Auber 93
8 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites
9 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis
10 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Domo-Farm Frites
11 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast 4.09
12 Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 8.07
13 Servais Knaven (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites
14 Frank Hoj (Den) Team Coast
15 Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) Lampre-Daikin
16 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Lampre-Daikin 8.14
17 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 9.11
18 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Adecco
19 Tom Flammang (Lux) Cofidis
20 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank
21 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites
22 Marco Milesi (Ita) Domo-Farm Frites 9.17
23 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner
24 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank
25 Rolf Aldag (Ger) Team Telekom
26 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 9.59
27 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Domo-Farm Frites 14.00
28 Matth� Pronk (Ned) Rabobank 15.18
29 Denis Zanette (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 15.21
30 Jean-Michel Tessier (Fra) Cofidis
31 Torsten Nitsche (Ger) Saeco-Longoni Sport
32 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo
33 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 16.38
34 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 17.15
35 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Ag2R Prevoyance 17.48
36 Sven Nijs (Bel) Rabobank (Bel) Rabobank
37 Alexei Sivakov (Rus) Bigmat.Auber 93
38 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
39 Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step
40 Robert Hunter (RSA) Mapei-Quick Step
41 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Bigmat.Auber 93
41 riders finished inside the time limit from 190 starters.