Wallays survives long in early breakaway


The Lotto Soudal riders had a free role at Paris-Roubaix and they seized this opportunity with both hands. Jelle Wallays chose to join the early breakaway and he remained at the front till the deep finale. Eventually he got fourteenth. Jens Debusschere sprinted to the tenth place on the velodrome of Roubaix.

Jelle Wallays set up the break after 35 kilometres when he rode away from the bunch together with Ludovic Robeet. Seven riders, including Swiss champion Silvan Dillier, joined them. Two minutes advantage, of a maximum lead of eight minutes, were left after the passage through the Forest of Arenberg, where Jelle Wallays had set the pace. With less than seventy kilometres to go only Wallays and Dillier were still riding at the front. World champion Peter Sagan closed the gap on them just before the cobbles of Mons-en-Pévèle. Four sectors later Wallays got distanced. Dillier and Sagan rode to the velodrome together, where the world champion beat the Swiss champion.

Jelle Wallays: “I have an attacking style of racing. It’s the fourth time that I was part of a breakaway at Paris-Roubaix and this is my best final result ever. It was no easy job to get in today’s break. Because there was a tailwind the riders knew there was a possibility that the break would stay ahead very long. Dillier and I survived the longest, but when Sagan joined us I immediately felt that the pace was raised. Sagan said that the riders behind us were having a hard time as well and that he thought we would make it to the finish. Unfortunately I got into difficulty each time he raised the pace after a corner. At a certain moment I had to let them go.”

“I am disappointed, because in the end they did make it to the velodrome. If I had been able to hang on, I would have finished on the podium. But I gave all I got along the way and I had nothing left. I rode a good race and I felt strong on the cobbles. I might have been too eager, but that’s easily said afterwards.”

With about forty kilometres to go Jens Debusschere bridged to the chasing group that consisted of Phinney, Stuyven, Terpstra, Van Aert, Van Avermaet and Vanmarcke. This group fell apart and eventually Debusschere crossed the finish line two and a half minutes after Sagan in a group that sprinted for the seventh place. Debusschere got tenth.

Jens Debusschere: “Before the race I would have signed for a place on top ten, but when you see how the race developed you always hope for more. My biggest effort of today was when I bridged from the second chasing group to the first chasing group that included among other Van Avermaet and Vanmarcke. In the finale it was suddenly going so fast that I needed to let some of the others go. I then got in a group that sprinted for the seventh place. I was not so fast anymore at the end of the day and became tenth.”

“The race went well for me, I only got distanced because of a crash on the first cobblestone sector. But the teammates of Yves Lampaert, Oliver Naesen and Greg Van Avermaet, who were also in that group, closed the gap rather quickly. From then on I always tried to ride on the first rows of the peloton. My form was good and finishing tenth in a monument as Paris-Roubaix is definitely a nice result.”