Johan Van Summeren wasn’t the rider from Garmin-Cervélo expected to win Paris-Roubaix but he anticipated the action of the big favourites on a day of bad luck for Quick Step’s Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel. Fabian Cancellara gave up the chase in order to not favour the return of world champion Thor Hushovd who enjoyed the success of his Belgian team-mate ahead of the defending champion.
WIGGINS ON THE MOVE. The race started on a high note with many skirmishes in the first hour of racing. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) initiated the first significant breakaway with Marco Bandiera (Quick Step) and Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM) at the exit of Noyon at km 18. Anthony Ravard (Ag2-La Mondiale), Bert De Backer (Skil-Shimano) and Luis Pasamontes (Movistar) doubled the number of riders in the lead. The breakaway ended at km 69 after reaching a maximum lead of 45 seconds at km 54.
ELMIGER MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale) attacked at km 92, just before the first pavé section. He was joined by Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun), Mitch Docker (Skil-Shimano), Nelson Oliveira (Radio Shack) and Timon Seubert (Netapp), and later by David Boucher (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank) and David Veilleux (Europcar). With 125km to, they were reinforced by André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano) and Gorazd Stangelj (Astana) who had gone clear off the bunch on the cobblestoned section 24.
BOONEN DELAYED AT ARENBERG. After Oliveira getting dropped, the group of the ten leaders was led by Martin Elmiger in the forest of Arenberg while Lars Boom (Rabobank) made a big impression at the head of the bunch. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) had a mechanical problem in the middle of the forest and waited for a new bike for more than one minute. As he was chasing to come across to the main bunch led by Leopard-Trek at the service of Fabian Cancellara, he crashed on the cobblestones of sector 14 while his team-mate Sylvain Chavanel wasn’t in a better situation after a puncture. He later abandoned the race.
21 MEN IN THE LEAD. With 65km to go, a chasing group formed at the initiative of Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ) joined the leaders and it made a breakaway of 17 riders: Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun), Mitch Docker and Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano), Timon Seubert (Netapp), David Boucher, Jurgen Roelandts and André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank), David Veilleux (Europcar), Gorazd Stangelj (Astana), Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervélo), Matthew Hayman (Sky), Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad), (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Manuel Quinziato (BMC) and Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-SunGard). With Boucher being victim of a flat tyre, it made a front group of 21 as Gabriel Rasch (Garmin-Cervélo), John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad), Gregory Rast (RadioShack), Tom Leezer (Rabobank) and Damien Gaudin (Europcar) bridged the gap.
THE BIG ONES IN ACTION IN MONS-EN-PEVELE. Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) was the first favourite in action with 49km to go as the peloton was 1.10 behind the 21 leaders. At the exit of the sector 10 of Mons-en-Pévèle, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Alessandro Ballan (BMC) and Hushovd went away from the bunch. Cancellara, Hushovd and Ballan were only 25 seconds away from the front group when Cancellara decided to not chase anymore.
VAN SUMMEREN AT THE CARREFOUR DE L’ARBRE. Four riders approached the Carrefour de l’Arbre in the lead: Van Summeren, Tjallingi, Bak and Rast. Van Summeren was smart to attack with 15km to go while it was too late for Cancellara to resume chasing with Hushovd marking him. Van Summeren finished solo and resisted to the return of Cancellara who caught Rast, Bak and Tjallingi in the last three kilometres. The tall Belgian (1.98m) maintained 19 seconds over the defending champion who took the second place ahead of early attacker Tjallingi.
Johan Van Summeren was quite emotional when he had to comment his first win at Paris-Roubaix.
Can you describe how you made the front of the race?
There was an attack after the forest of Arenberg. I got in there without any effort and I saved energy as much as I could. I had good legs. It was not up to us to ride in the breakaway. When Lars Bak attacked, my team manager Jonathan Vaughters was saying “Wait till the Carrefour de l’Arbre”. I knew from training there on Thursday where I should go as fast as possible. I was that Tjallingi wasn’t too far behind, then I didn’t see him anymore. I went full out on the Carrefour de l’Arbre. It was painful but it’s an enormous satisfaction.
Your participation to Paris-Roubaix wasn’t a sure thing. How did it happen?
Nobody wants to miss the classics but not riding the Tour of Flanders was a good decision. Now I’m glad I didn’t do it. I had a sore knee but when I felt no more pain, I was ok to start. This is the race that is made for my capacities, I’m not a climber, I’m not a sprinter, but I can push the pedals for long on these roads.
How did you work it out tactically in this Garmin-Cervélo team with so many big names?
Thor Hushovd was our team leader for this race because he’s the world champion, he’s fast at finishes and he’s got results at this race before. I was supposed to help him but I got in the breakaway and I immediately felt that I was the strongest in the breakaway. My only worry was the flat tyre I had with 5km to go. It wasn’t totally flat so I kept riding on it. On the velodrome, it wasn’t easy to take the curves but I was safe. I’ll be the winner of Paris-Roubaix for ever.
Johan Van Summeren’s first words after winning Paris-Roubaix: "I was really motivated. This was MY race. I came for the best possible result. As soon as I was in the front group, I knew I could win. I had great legs today. It’s "magnifique", wonderful. When Bak attacked, I followed him and I went flat out in the Carrefour de l’Arbre. I was gone for good."
1. Johan van Summeren, 6h27’24, 2. Cancellara, at 19 sec, 3. Tjallingi, 4. Rast, 5. Bak, 6. Ballan, 7. Eisel, 8. Hushovd, 9. Flecha, 10. Hayman
Fabian Cancellara sprined for second place 18 seconds behind Van Summeren. Tjallingi finished third.
Johan Van Summeren wins Paris-Roubaix after 6 hours 7 minutes and 24 seconds of racing.
Behind front rider Johan van Summeren, Cancellara caught Bak, Rast and Tjallingi in search of a top 3 finish. Van Summeren has 40 seconds with 40 seconds.