Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Paris-Roubaix Espoirs: Teunissen lights up everyone to win Roubaix

There is the stereotype that all cyclocrossers tend to excel in Paris-Roubaix. Roger De Vlaeminck was a champion cyclocrosser and kicked ass in Roubaix. Sven Nys rode on Rabobank's pro team seemingly just to be able to ride Paris-Roubaix. In recent times, Zdenek Stybar, Steve Chainel, Jempy Drucker and Roger Hammond have had good rides at Roubaix. It isn't a hard and fast rule as there is Francis Mourey who is a kick-ass cyclocross rider and was 20th overall in the Giro last year. So when Mike Teunissen was just 19, he rode the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs and finished 8th. Pretty damn good for a first timer. So while the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs was cancelled for 2013, the U23 World Cyclocross Champion was chomping at the bit to get back to Northern France. He got his wish on Sunday.

In a post-race interview, Teunissen mentioned that he noticed in his first U23 Roubaix that getting in the early break was very helpful and it only took 21 kilometers to have the race-defining breakaway get away. Teunissen and his teammate Ricardo van Dongen were joined by countryman Gert-Jan Bosman, Logan Owen and Greg Daniel (USA), Alexis Guerin (Etixx), Bas Tietema and Tyler Williams (BMC Development), Amaury Capiot (Lotto-Belisol U23), Wout Franssen (AnPost-ChainReaction) and a few others and the race truly began. A 30 second gap became 1 minute and then 2 minutes.

With Greg Daniel down, it was a group of 16 that was plowing ahead. By plowing ahead I mean 4 minutes ahead. The peloton must have had a moment where they were like "uhhh guys? Are we going to chase or just ride around this cobbled hell?" A group of 18 broke away from the peloton before the Wandignies cobbles to try and make a dent into the leading breakaway. It didn't really work as they were brought back in and by the Warlaing cobbles, the gap was still at 3'50".

With 68km to go, the gap was still over 3 minutes and Ignazio Moser was struggling to maintain contact with the peloton. Lord, the kid is disappointing when he has showed some brilliant rides before. With around 60 kilometers to go, Teunissen told Van Dongen to watch out for counter attacks and he hit it just before the Mons-en-Pevele sector with only BMC Devo riders Tyler Williams and Bas Tietema being able to follow. It was a group of 3 up front and while there was still 60 kilometers to go, the race was between three.

The breakaway of 3 plowed through the cobbled sections while the chasing group behind had stopped riding for the time being. The main peloton was making no inroads into the breakaway as they kept staying around 3 minutes even when 4 CC Nogent-sur-Oise riders were on the front desperately chasing. To be honest, it seemed like Teunissen was toying with the other two until they hit the Carrefour de l'Arbre. On the first corner of the sector where the cobbles are quite rough, Teunissen punched it on Tyler Williams and a gap was formed quickly. Only 15 kilometers from the line, Teunissen was salivating for the win here. Behind, the peloton finally began to speed up but it was a case of too little, too late.

While Teunissen was speeding away, Williams and Tietema were just trying to hold on. Teunissen entered the velodrome solo and had time to soak in the victory while Williams held on for 2nd place, coming in 1'15" down on the Dutchman. It was an impressive result for the American, who is only a 2nd year U23 and should be on the classics radar with this ride. Bas Tietema just held on for 3rd place over a sprinting peloton, which was a great ride for the 1st year U23 on BMC Development.

  1. Mike Teunissen
  2. Tyler Williams
  3. Bas Tietema
  4. Ricardo Van Dongen
  5. Fabian Grellier
  6. Gert-Jan Bosman
  7. Amaury Capiot
  8. Logan Owen
  9. Wout Franssen
  10. Cederic Verbeken
Ricardo Van Dongen led in the remnants of the breakaway to make it a Rabobank Sandwich in 1st and 4th place with a BMC Devo filling. Champion cyclocross racer Logan Owen capped off a great spring with the USA National Team with an 8th place after riding in the breakaway all day. Leaders like Stefan Kung (BMC Devo), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Belisol U23) and Ruben Zepuntke (Bissell) lead the peloton in but it was too little too late for the majority of riders.

Bad luck for Nathan van Hooydonck here. The Bissell first year broke his wrist after a hard fall and it will be a long downtime for the Belgian who finished 2nd in the Junior Paris-Roubaix in 2013 behind Mads Pedersen.

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