Sébastien Turgot: Paris-Roubaix runner-up and revelation
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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sébastien Turgot: Paris-Roubaix runner-up and revelation

by Kyle Moore at 4:34 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
Confirms Classics potential, first Frenchman on podium since Guesdon’s win

Sebastien TurgotSébastien Turgot (Europcar) took second place in Paris-Roubaix in a fashion similar to that which Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) used to take the win. The Frenchman went after the podium finish with tenacity and stole it from a host of race favourites.

Turgot narrowly pipped Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) for second place on the line in the Roubaix velodrome, one minute and 39 seconds behind Boonen, who took his record-tying fourth Paris-Roubaix win.

Turgot’s finish made him the first French rider on the podium in Roubaix since Frederic Guesdon raced to triumph in 1997.

Ironically, Sunday’s race was Guesdon’s swan song: the last French winner ended his career after finishing in a group outside the time limit.

For Turgot, it was a series of attacks just before Boonen’s winning move with around 55 kilometers to race that put him firmly at the front. Though he missed the chance to attach to the Belgian as he moved away – Ballan and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini) also missed out – Turgot avoided the bad luck that quickly spelled doom for several others.

While his runner-up finish made him the race’s revelation, Turgot tempered his enthusiasm, if only slightly, after the result had sunk in.

“This is not a victory. This is a second place,” Turgot told L’Equipe at the finish. “I’m here to win, but second place is great, extraordinary. With the team, we made so many sacrifices to have a successful Classics season. It is a reward for the team.

“I had good legs. I gave it everything. I did the right things, to the millimeter, to make the least effort possible, even though I attacked twice at 60 kilometers to go, even though it was useless. I am a fighter and at the end, I calculated every pedal stroke.”

Turgot made three separate moves after the peloton exited the Arenberg Forest that helped set up his finish. He escaped in a threatening group featuring Ballan and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky Procycling) just after the forest, which required Omega Pharma-Quick Step to chase.

This escape was brought back and Sylvain Chavanel countered for Boonen’s team. Chavanel took four others with him, including Turgot. But the French road champion soon flatted and Turgot attacked alone, moving ahead solo until a threatening acceleration by Boonen, with Pozzato and Ballan in tow, brought back the Frenchman.

When Boonen kept the pressure on, taking team-mate Niki Terpstra with him briefly, Pozzato, Ballan, and Turgot suffered a fateful bout of indecision, and the eventual champion was gone.

“He was confident and super-strong,” Turgot said of Boonen. “Team Sky had to ride, they had no choice. I had a down moment when they were riding. It came apart at the Carrefour del l’Arbre. I was a bit tight. My focus on that sector was to keep moving. [Luca] Paolini was gone. I said, ‘Seb, you must give it your all.’”

After Boonen had taken the win, it appeared as if Ballan, Flecha, and Lars Boom (Rabobank) would sprint it out for the final two podium spots, but as the bell rang in the velodrome with a lap to race, Turgot snuck into the group with Terpstra. Boom was exhausted and dropped back, and without a real sprinter in the group, Turgot edged out Ballan.

Turgot admitted he was surprised by the result but was happy that the sacrifices had paid off. And he allowed himself to dream about a future win.

“It is a reward for the sacrifices,” Turgot added. “In professional cycling, it is difficult for the family. I left for three weeks. I go home tonight, but [only] for a day. It will be good for the family, and for the kids.

“This is my third Paris-Roubaix, and I made the podium, in second place. This year I was lucky. I never had any glitches. If I come with the same form next year, in the same context, we must look at Boonen and when he accelerates, I will not let go. It is always a hope, a dream. It will be difficult, anyway.”


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