2013 Paris- Roubaix – Age and Smarts Trump.


Hats off to Sep Vanmarke for a great race, but the peloton just got played. Congrats to Spartacus. It’s always easy, and certainly unfair, to reflect on a race as hard as Roubaix from the armchair position, but alas, we do. Fabian Cancellara won his third Roubaix, cleverly toying with the peloton and their observers. Was Cancellara finished? Was he suffering from his crashes? Did he have it in him? Of course he did.

From the point of 60km remaining Cancellara played the game, letting groups go off the front and hanging his head as they rode away. For Cance, the strategy now appears so simple, so brilliant – I can’t win against everyone, but I can beat them a little at a time. Whittling down the competition as the velodrome grew closer, Cance used his smarts first, and his devastating power second, to reduce his competition to fewer and fewer. It was only when Sep Vanmarke, Stijn Vandenbergh and his teammate Zednyk Stybar were head to head against Fabian that fate seemed to deal Cance true difficulty.

But fate is a fickle beast, no? Cause a spectator shoulder check to Vandenbergh and the group fell to three men. Then, a camera to the face of Zybar…. and it was two. What did OPQS do to the “cycling gods”? Now, it was man vs man. But really it was man against, well, nice guy. And nice guys finish Roubaix in second place.

While Cancellara had played his tricks all day, Vanmarke looked like a boy watching a magician in wonder. Happy to take his turns. Happy to oblige while Cance shook his head if he was in front for more than a couple of minutes. Happy to lead through the cobbles and to only resist, but not truly battle, for second wheel in the velodrome. Happy to start his sprit early. Unhappy with second. Vanmarke is 24, everyone will be overjoyed with his second place in Paris-Roubaix. Everyone will applaud him for battling Cancellara to within a bike length of the line. And everyone should do those things and be very happy for Sep. He deserves it. But, Sep Vanmarke won’t be happy with it and that’s a good thing, because he was brilliant and he’s got a whole career ahead of him, and he’ll be that much more prepared to not let a Roubaix win slip away next time.


Paris Roubaix 2013 was brilliant. Cancellara is brilliant, and Sep most certainly will be. What a race.

2013 Paris-Roubaix Top Twenty

1. Fabian Cancellara (RNT)
2. Sep Vanmarke (BLA)
3. Niki Terpstra (OPQS)
4. Greg VanAvermaet (BMC)
5. Damien Gaudin (EUC)
6. Zednek Stybar (OPQS)
7. Sebastian Langeveld (OGE)
8. Juan Antonio Flecha (VCD)
9. Alexandre Kristoff (KAT)
10. Sebastian Turgot (EUC)
11. Heinrich Haussler (IAM)
12. Bernhard Eisel (SKY)
13. Martin Wynants (BLA)
14. Lars Boom (BLA)
15. Matti Breschel (STB)
16. Bjorn Leukemans (VCD)
17. Steve Chainel (ALM)
18. Maarten Tjallingi (BLA)
19. Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ)
20. Stijn Vandenbergh (OPQ)


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