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"I felt like I had the legs to win, I think everybody in that group did. It could have been any one of us. When I made my attacks they said it was panic stations behind, but I think that came down to the pre-race hype."

Photo: A.S.O.






12.04.2015 @ 19:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Bradley Wiggins gave everything he had on his final ride for Team Sky at Paris-Roubaix, but it was Luke Rowe who produced one of the performances of his career to claim eighth place in the iconic velodrome.


Wiggins went on a long-range attack with 32km to go in France, and then tried again 3km from home as he attempted to bow out in style. His efforts were ultimately in vain though as he was hauled back before he reached the famous open air track, but he battled on and rolled home in a highly-commendable 18th position.


Rowe, meanwhile, had produced a storming ride to make it back into the peloton on the Carrefour de l’Arbre, and then jumped from the bunch and outsprinted Jens Debussere (Lotto-Soudal) for his highest-ever finish in the Queen of the Classics.


The day belonged to John Degenkolb however, with the Giant-Alpecin rider animating the race in the last 10km and then proving the fastest finisher in a seven-man group who fought it out for the victory.


The German produced a decisive kick as he rounded the final curve of the track and then pressed home his advantage ahead of Zdenek Stybar (Etixx - Quick-Step) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing). The result capped a memorable classics campaign for the 26 year old, who also triumphed at Milan-San Remo last month.


Rowe rounded off his race 28 seconds later, with Wiggins two seconds further behind.




Sun shone down on the riders during the 113th edition and the blustery conditions made for a fast and furious race.


Team Sky led from the front to keep an early breakaway in check, and were in a plumb position as the action hit the Trouée d'Arenberg. Bad luck struck as Geraint Thomas took a tumble in the last 90km, but Rowe and Ian Stannard covered every move when the attacks started flying, and Wiggins was one of only 30-or-so riders still in contention as the race passed over Mons-en-Pévèle.


Wiggins then lit the race up when he produced a brave solo dig in the final hour of action, and


Rowe did an unbelievable job to bridge back over to vastly-reduced peloton once Wiggins had been temporarily reeled back in.   


Unfortunately, neither rider could follow when Yves Lampaert (Etixx – Quick-Step) and the plucky van Avermaet edged clear with 12km to go, but Degenkolb was one of five riders to do just that as seven hopefuls emerged to contest the win.


Wiggins tried one last attempt to bridge the gap on the approach to Roubaix, but it was Rowe who pressed on in the velodrome and became the race’s highest-ranked British rider with a solid late burst at the line.


The result brought the curtain down on a glittering Team Sky career which included no-less than 23 victories, and Wiggins was in upbeat mood as he savoured his final moments in the famous black and blue jersey.



"I’m relieved to get it over and done with and I’m happy with how it went. The tailwind made it tough out there because it meant the racing was on all day and there was no chance to relax like we normally do after the first few sectors," he told


"It was a tough edition but nice to be able to have a few attacks. I had my first go where I said I was going to go on the bus this morning. No-one else seemed to be expecting it there and I got myself in a pretty good position. It was unfortunate though that I got lumbered with a few riders who didn’t want to work and that meant it was chased down quite quickly.



"I tried on a long uphill drag with Sep Vanmarcke [in the end], but by then it’s like when the Titanic’s going down and everyone’s hanging on for grim death, trying to get every last ounce out of themselves.



"I felt like I had the legs to win, I think everybody in that group did. It could have been any one of us. When I made my attacks they said it was panic stations behind, but I think that came down to the pre-race hype when I said I was up for it. It is what it is.



"When I attacked I was right up behind the motorbikes and it was like being 16 again, training in London near my house. That was nice, and I’ll be able to look back in years to come and say I was leading the race at one point (laughs)."


Wiggins has certain regrets about the overall outcome of his final race.



"Yes, definitely, but I felt it was a bit soft how it all panned out at the end," he said when asked whether Degenkolb was a worthy winner. "The result didn’t go on force, like some of the classic Paris-Roubaix’s. There was a lot of looking at each other in those closing stages before the sprint. That was a shame because it would have been nice to see something like [Franco] Ballerini’s win in 1998. Luke [Rowe] deserves a mention, it was nice to see him up there and eighth place is a great result for him.



"I’m happy. I’ve had a good run, and being a classics rider has been like a new job for me over the last two years – it was a hobby driven by my passion. Before the race I was trying really hard to not think about this being my last race for Team Sky. So many riders came up to me to wish me good luck and that was really nice. All these guys who you’ve been bashing heads with for years, never spoken to them, and they’re coming up to congratulate me on my career. It’s hard not to get emotional when that happens, but I got through it OK.


"I said at the start, I just want a clean run today, and I got that. I didn’t have one puncture, one crash. I came through it pretty well and I was pleased to finish in the top 20."



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