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Paris-Roubaix. Hard day in the Hell of the North

It was a hard day on the dusty cobbles of Paris-Roubaix for the riders of Astana Pro Team, with Laurens de Vreese finishing 25th as the first Astana rider. He finished just in front of the young Davide Ballerini, who was riding for a top 20 result, but he crashed on one of the final cobble sections after a very strong ride in his first Paris-Roubaix. Ballerini was also part of the early breakaway, after Dmitriy Gruzdev, Daniil Fominykh, Zhandos Bizhigitov and Magnus Cort tried to go clear. Philippe Gilbert took the victory in the third Monument of the season.

- It was a very hard day, it was just a matter of holding one as long as possible. At every cobble section, more and more riders got dropped or had a puncture or mechanical. Just before one of the hardest sections, I had a flat tire myself and I had to do a big effort to return in the first group. In the end, this effort was maybe too much for me, I was not able to jump with any of the attacks in the final anymore. I think we can look back on some good classic races where our young Davide Ballerini showed where he’s capable of. With the experiences from this year, I’m sure he will battle with the favorites again next year. I’m already looking forward to support him in these races, - said Laurens de Vreese.

- I was feeling very good today, and I was in the right position all the time. But when the decisive attack was there, I was just a little too far back in the leading group. I tried to close the gap on my own but was not able to get into the select group at the front that would battle for the victory. In a final attempt to get back with our group, on one of the cobbled sections, I went too fast in a corner and crashed. From that point, my race was over, so I’m really disappointed. Maybe it was not too bad for a first Paris-Roubaix, but I hoped for more after a strong race. It was another lesson learned in these classics and I’m already motivated to return next year to further improve and get a result, - said Davide Ballerini.

- We were realistic before the race, aiming for a top 30 result. In the end, we got this result with the 25th place of Laurens de Vreese. But if you see how the race developed, we hoped for more during the day as Davide Ballerini really showed himself. I think the guys gave all they had and this was the maximum result for now. Everyone showed good spirit right from the start in trying to make it in the early breakaway, they did all they could. Especially for Davide Ballerini it’s another experience he got that he can use in the years to come, for sure he has a bright future for the classics, - said sports director Lars Michaelsen.

 


Photo: ©Getty Images

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