I've done this race before in 2013 and that time only less than 20 riders finished because of a horrible crosswind and lots of rain.
This year it was the opposite. The sun came out and it was a pleasant temperature all the way through the race.
On the section where we had the terrible crosswind last year, there was a tailwind this year, making it pretty much impossible to split the group, so a bunch sprint was surely on the cards.
A small break went and Armee de Terre (a continental team) was happy to take over the work, which made for a boring few laps. However the fighting was intense, even at slow speeds and I was proud how I managed to stay right in front and get back up again as soon as I was left a bit further back.
The fighting got more and more intense though and with 4 laps to go it was practically impossible for me to stay anywhere near the front. It was like a washing machine. You passed twenty riders on the right and shortly after twice as much passed on the other side. And it was so dangerous!
There were some incidents on the small (but very tough) climb too, where someone crashed and everyone behind got blocked, which was less than ideal because the tailwind section followed, making the chase back very hard.
With 2 km to go I started making a bet with the rider next to me when there would be a crash. He bet me 20euros in the last corner before the flamme rouge, I bet him 20 euros in the last 500m. We both lost, it was with around 700m to go. But sad how you just know it's going to happen.
Benjamin managed a solid 5th place in the sprint.
Next up for me is Liege-Bastogne-Liege Espoir, which is a big deal! Super excited but also very nervous. We will see how it goes. For now I will sit back and watch the pros smash it on the cobbles at Paris-Roubaix. Cycling is a tough sport!
|Staying at the front (left)|