Roubaix: a première for Sven Nys

Pic by Ben Raby Peloton entering the velodrome
Men on the slope are dark figures against the yellow sky: riders ride down the descent and you hear their brakes screech in the next tricky curve. Roubaix. How different it is today: crossers don't need flat platforms to enter the velodrome and do only a small part of the track. The circuit is short and fast, wet but not very muddy, marked by some natural stairs, some artificial obstacles and the hard sequence descent-curve. It takes few to complete it and on the velodrome line cards get often shuffled. It's a nervous, open race.
At the 2nd lap Taramarkaz leads the front group, with Albert and Pauwels. The Swiss will do an outstanding race and will lose the podium just for a nothing. Maybe because he spent too much. Meeuseum is 4th now and  Lars Van der Haar 5th after a super sprint on Roubaix line: the young Dutch confirms again to be one of the fastest in the peloton and always a player in the big game. However today he fails to quit the company and gets a little dropped in the second group including Sven Nys.
If you watch cyclocross races you know that Nys is often behinde in the first laps but unstoppable when he decides to take off.  Things seems not so easy today: he attacks but can't break away. Lars Van der Haar isn't able to follow and crosses in 9th place the velodrome line. Vantornout crossed it walking: mechanic problem for him and race over. In no time Nys is 4th. His progression is impressive but the fight is open: Meeuseum, passed, manages to come back to the front group. Lars Van der haar is 8th on the line. In the velodrome the two groups are closer, on the dirty road is different: riders ride in a long line and gaps grow. 
In no time Nys is leading: will it change before the finish? but in the front group they are still togethe: Nys, Taramarkaz, Pauwels. Dropped, Albert. Passing on a patch of hard mood Nys makes a little mistake and  now Pauuwels takes the lead of the three men group.
ln the velodrome again: Lars Van der Haar is 5th and leading the chase: if he can keep that 5th till the finish it's a great results. They go fast and faster. A lap more and yes: he's still 5th! ALLEZ! In no time the bell rings and it's the last lap: Albert crosses first the line, then Nys, Taramarkaz and Pauwels. Behinde things get confused and I think Lars Van der Haar is 6th. I'm happy to see that Pauwels is in a good day, he looks aggressive and determined to take his podium spot. In no time he attacks and passes Taramarkaz: the Swiss gets soon dropped, tired probably and unable to respond. Chapeau anyway! great race! 
Nys accelerates in the last corner, enters first the velodrome: no extra lap for him unlike the classic Roubaix winners if not... who knows? Pauwels attacks again and passes Albert just entering the velodrome. In no time it's over:  1st Nys, 2nd Pauwels 3rd Albert 4th Taramarkaz. And 5th is Lars Van der Haar: YEAH!! he did it! 
In the GC 1st is Albert, 2nd Nys, 3rd Pauwels, 4th Vantornout, 5th Van der Haar. I find it amazing for such a young ridera at his first year in the top cathegory.
Interviewed Nys says: "It's the first time I win here: fanstastic! Roubaix is a place full of history!" Waiting for the podium cerimony Nys and Pauwels are side by side but don't speak. Asked Pauwels just bends twice his head. On stage. The Belgian antem again. And again. And again. Interesting dettails: flowers are different for the three top finishers: yellow for the winner fo the 2nd one white and mixed for the 3rd... The finish order can be a little monotonous but it comes after a thrilling race.

1 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Euphony 1:03:47  
2 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Revor 0:00:01  
3 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus 0:00:04  
4 Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team 0:00:07  
5 Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team 0:00:20  
6 Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus    
7 Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea 0:00:21  
8 Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team    
9 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus 0:00:24  
10 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea 0:00:40
20 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti 0:01:53  
-3laps Christian Helmig (Lux)

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