Paris-Roubaix. The Hell Of The North. One of the most classic of the one day Spring Classics. Long stretches of “pave” (cobblestones) that test man and machine. You expect crashes and you expect upsets. And this one didn’t disappoint.
First you had race favourite and defending champion Tom Boonen isolated in a 15 man break-away with no team-mates, but all his big rivals there, including George Hincape who had two team-mates with him to help. Things were looking good for George Hincape, until suddenly you saw him sitting up with his hands not on the handlebars. Of course he crashed – you can’t ride no-hands on pave. Then they showed the replay and it was obvious that the reason he didn’t have his hands on the handlebars is that they’d broken off!
Then that leading group broke into chunks, and Boonen wasn’t in the lead group of one, or in the chasing group of 3 (which included Hincape’s two Discovery team-mates). But then another disaster for Discovery – a train crossing barrier dropped in between the single leader and the group of three. But they obviously had their eyes on the leader rather than the rulebook, because they went through the barrier. The race mashalls stopped the next group with Boonen, which is just as well because the second they stopped the train went through.
Boonen was fuming about the stop, but it was probably the best thing that happened to him in the race, because after the finish they disqualified the three who went through the barrier, and so Boonen ended up second.
Well, that’s bike racing.