In Peronne, France, the 44th edition of the U23 Paris-Roubaix kicked off under cool and rainy weather conditions. Taylor Phinney of Trek-Livestrong makes his “Number 2”, the only rider to capture two U23 Paris-Roubaix wins in its 44 year history seasons’ event. The race was expected to be tough, muddy and difficult due to scattered rains before the event. However as the peloton went underway, strong cold winds replaced the rain.
In the 179 kilometer race of 27 sections, an early breakaway group of seven riders took the front. The group was a composite of Trek-Livestrong and Team Holowerko Partners with Benjamin King of Australia and Walker Savidoe of USA, maintaining a hard two-minute gap over the rest of the peloton up to the last 50 kilometers of the race.
Maintaining a sustained position up front was the defending champion Phinney. “Ben King was up the road and with about 50k to go I just kinda wanted to make it harder for everybody and split the group up. I ended up bridging up to the front group with (eventual second place finisher Jens Debusschere of PWS-Eijssen)…Once I got up there Ben King just drove it for about 30k. It was really amazing for me and was super impressive. I couldn’t have asked any more from him.”
Phinney confirmed he got a lot of help from his team this year. “It made a huge difference. I was a little bit worried we were going to get caught up by the peloton and I would have wasted some energy, but the peloton started to split. So I let Ben King do all the towing.”
At the velodrome Phinney and Dehoushere held on to a few seconds difference over the tailing Fabian Taillenfer of Team Veranda Rideau. With Taillenfer on their tail as they passed the first passage of the starting line, it seemed that it was going to be a neck-to-neck battle of three in the sprint to the finish. “I was tired,” Phinney had said. “I was cramping coming into the velodrome and had to push through.” He led the trio from the front all day and maintained a bike-length sprint over Dehoushere.
“When Ben did all that work for me it just…just would have been disgraceful (to lose) and I don’t know if I could have lived with myself after all the work that he did. And the rest of the team as well, they controlled it from the start. A great team effort and a hard day but I am very happy to come away with number two.”
As for Phinney’s plan for the season, “In a couple of weeks we go to Thuringen Rundfahrt, an U23 race in Germany… The next big goal is Under-23 worlds at the end of September. Going into the season I had three goals … Track World Paris-Roubaix and U23 Worlds. So I’ve got two of those so far.”