Phinney pleased with Paris-Roubaix debut, Hincapie with new record
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Monday, April 09, 2012

Phinney pleased with Paris-Roubaix debut, Hincapie with new record

by VeloNation Press at 6:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
 
Mixed fortunes for Ballan and Hushovd

Taylor PhinneyThey were amongst the youngest and oldest riders in Paris-Roubaix yesterday, representing both ends of the spectrum; neither won, but at the end of the Hell of the North both Taylor Phinney and George Hincapie were pleased about what they had achieved.

For Phinney, his ride showed that the double winner of the under 23 event can legitimately target success in the race in the future. He rode impressively in the services of his BMC Racing Team, and then outgalloped nine others to come through for fifteenth place in the famed Roubaix velodrome.

“It was quite hard but honestly I felt amazing today," he smiled after the finish. "I had great legs, stayed safe and did a lot of work on the front.”

Race winner Tom Boonen placed third in his first Roubaix, riding it then at the same age 21 year old Phinney is now. The American didn’t have a chance to aim for that as his brief was to assist the team captains Thor Hushovd and Alessandro Ballan, but he was able to show his strength regardless.

“I tried to help out Danilo (Wyss) when we got toward the Arenberg. I just missed that front split but for the amount of work I did, I'm happy with the way I finished."

Hincapie is nearing the end of his career and so the days when the American can fight for the victory have passed. However the 38 year old veteran has other achievements that he is clocking up; last summer he became the first rider to compete in seventeen Tours de France; yesterday, both he and Frédéric Guesdon were the first to ride seventeen editions of Paris-Roubaix.

"I came out relatively unscathed," he said, referring to a tough race when he crashed once, but otherwise stayed out of trouble. "This is such a hard race. From the guys who are getting first, to the guys who are getting last, everyone puts everything they have into it.

“You're completely exhausted, but it's what people dream about – coming into the velodrome. It's definitely a special feeling."

Hincapie said before the race that it could be his last time to compete in the Hell of the North. He’s considering whether to retire or to continue for one more season. That decision will be taken later this year but if he does stop, he’ll finish with that record, as well as a 43rd place finish, seven minutes 46 seconds behind Tom Boonen.

Mixed performances from team’s captains:

The two designated leaders didn’t make the top step of the podium, but Alessandro Ballan performed strongly and just missed out on netting second in what is cycling’s toughest one-day event.

He finished in a five man chasing group one minute 39 seconds behind Boonen, and was narrowly pipped by Sébastien Turgot (Europcar) in the gallop to the line. The margin between the two was millimetres, and it took a photo finish to show that the Italian had taken third rather than second.

Coming after the same placing in last weekend’s Ronde Van Vlaanderen, it marked the former world champion out as one of the very best riders in this spring campaign.

The problem was that there was one rider who was even better. "Tom was just too strong. I didn't think it was possible for him to finish alone because we had four or five riders from Sky and two from Rabobank in my group," he said.

When it came to the gallop, he made up in strength for what he normally lacks in speed. "I'm not fast in the sprint and I don't have the history in the velodrome, so it was hard for me," he explained.

Still, nearly winning a sprint out of a five man group which also included Turgot, Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky Procycling), Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) and Lars Boom (Rabobank) shows his good condition. A big win is close.

Thor Hushovd was also a protected rider for the team and had high hopes. Those ambitions dissolved however when the Norwegian went down on a corner sixty kilometres from the finish. The crash seemed a bizarre one as it happened on smooth asphalt rather than the more dangerous pave sections, and saw him find the ground on what was a relatively uncomplicated curve.

"I just never gave up. I knew I had good legs. I gave it everything," he said afterwards. "I'm disappointed because I haven't done a good spring season and today I did a perfect race except for a stupid mistake."

He rolled in 14th, four minutes 23 seconds back, and with a large abrasion on his leg. His dream of winning the race continues, but he’ll have to wait another twelve months before he can try again.

By then, though, Phinney may have earned the chance to be a protected rider too.

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