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All Fall Down!

Quite the comedy of errors in the finale at Paris-Roubaix. You don’t really expect the lead group to crash themselves out, but crash they did.

A bit of history for you: In 1929, four riders comprised the lead group. One rider flatted out, leaving Georges Ronsse, who won in 1927, Aimé Déolet, and Charles Meunier, who finished 3rd in 1928. All three rode for Automoto, one of the strongest teams of the era. Sponsored by a French frame-builder, Automoto won four Tours de France during the 1920s (Pelissier, Botecchia twice, and Buysse). As a previous winner of Paris-Roubaix, Ronsse held the role of team-leader. The three team-mates arrived at the Velodrome together. But then came disaster. Ronsse crashed, taking Déolet down with him. The last man standing, Charles Meunier, won. The 1929 win marked the highpoint of Meunier’s career, a one-off win. Thanks to Dutch cycling historian Benjo Maso for posting this story.

Unlike in 1929, this year’s winner was not a one-off. Despite the crashes, the strongest rider won, Tom Boonen. Bike handling, so essential to playing the cobble game. You have to stay upright to win.

One of the more bittersweet moments came when Manuel Quinziato tried desperately to bridge alone to the winning move. The camera angle showed just how close he came. And yet, so very much road he had to cover. Those last few bike lengths hurt the most, the legs failed to match his ambition. He arrived alone in the velodrome just ahead of Matti Breschel, the last survivor of the Saxo Bank-led chase.

And spare a thought for George Hincapie whose race ended so early. A flat at the wrong moment, the world’s longest wheel change. Surely, the QuickStep mechs train hard for the Paris-Roubaix wheel changes. They were that fast. Hincapie vows to return. I want to see more of Edvald Boasson Hagen. But that’s just me.

Ardennes time!

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