In the first of this year’s Classics, the 102nd edition of Paris-Roubaix, Alessio’s Magnus Backstedt made history as the first Swedish rider to win the the title. But for British cyclists the real news is Roger Hammond’s great third place finish.
After 261 gruelling kilometres, it was all down to a velodrome sprint finish as the breakaway group of four slugged it out in the closing moments. Backstedt fought his way to victory on the line leaving second place to Dutchman Tristan Hoffman and Britain’s Hammond in third, knee and ankle injuries regardless. Hammond, riding for the Mr Bookmaker team, achieved the best British Paris-Roubaix placing of the last 22 years and the joint best ever – Barry Hoban also came third back in 1972 – the next closest was Sean Yate’s 5th in 1994.
After several earlier breakaways, the decisive breakaway came just after the Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 246): Magnus Backstedt, Fabian Cancellara, Tristan Hoffman, Roger Hammond and Johan Museeuw. Museeuw looked in perfect postion for a another Roubaix victory, but a puncture 6km from the finish put paid to that and with the group’s lead of 30 seconds, the race was left to be decided between the other four men. Museeuw eventually finished fifth.
The Paris-Roubaix was the first World cup win for Backstedt, coming hard on the heels of his second-place finish in the Gent-Wevelgem. His winning time was six hours, 46 minutes and 12 seconds.
As for Hammond, what a fantastic result for the 30-year-old National Cyclo-cross champ.