A hard day at the Hell of the North

Despite bad luck, we pushed on at Paris-Roubaix

April 7, 2024

Stefan Bissegger never gave up.

After taking over team leadership following Alberto Bettiol’s early crash, Stefan went toe-to-toe with the favorites on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, riding on to the decisive sectors in the front group. An unfortunate mishap set him back right before the race-winning attack. Still, Stefan is encouraged by his performance.

“Definitely, there are some positive things to take away,” Stefan said after reaching the Roubaix velodrome. “I was always in a good position. It was a bit of bad luck. I had cramps, which I could get rid of, but then had to change bikes because I had a flat tire. I was in the first group, but then they blocked the cars behind the second group and I had to wait and then bridge on the cobbles back to the first group. Five kilometers later, the final attack went. Right after, the guy in front of me crashed in a corner. I was just a few meters behind and couldn’t close the gap. I was really close.”

Still, Stefan pushed on, determined to make it to the finish on the track in Roubaix. Making it to the end of the 128-year-old monument, which crosses the worst cobblestone roads in northern France, is an achievement that every professional road racer wants on his resumé.

WorldTour rookie Jardi van der Lee can now say he finished it, even if he did so outside the commissaire’s time limit. Jardi got caught up in the early crash that took down Alberto Bettiol and never made it back to the front of the peloton. Nevertheless, he pushed on over the stones, riding all 259.7 kilometers of his first Paris-Roubaix. He made it to the velodrome behind the broom wagon.

“It was really tough, but I enjoyed it,” Jardi said. “It was worth riding to the velodrome. The last part, I could enjoy a little bit, because then the time limit was off and we drove with the guys. This was a good experience to ride my first monument and finish.”

Next time, Jardi wants to race at the front of Roubaix like Stefan. This year wasn’t our year, but it’s always special to race the Hell of the North.

“When you perform, it is the best race ever,” Stefan said. “And if you have bad luck, it is the hardest one, but for sure I take the good things with me. I know I am strong. And I know I can finish with the competition here if everything goes right.”

Sports director Andreas Klier summed it up.

“I am sure the best rider won and I am sure the race has a great podium and we were not a part of it, so we are just going to keep on working and come back next year.”

Let’s hope for better luck at next year’s Paris-Roubaix. We’ll push on no matter what.

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