Paris-Roubaix (119th edition)
Achieving such a result was not expected. I just wanted to finish the race. I went through crashes and punctures. Everything went well. I am very happy with this day. Today, Hell was a bit like paradise!
I landed almost in the unknown. I’m not used to cobblestones, I prefer the ribinoù of Tro-Bro Léon (laughs). Ten years ago, I had made mistakes in terms of equipment and preparation. I had to give up because of my hands, not because of my legs.
In what state of mind were you at the start?
I may be 35 years old, in my 13th professional year, but I have to admit that the day before, I didn’t sleep very well. And in the morning, I woke up earlier than usual. I was like a neo-pro at the start, with a lot of apprehension.
From the start, we saw you at the forefront…
That was the goal. I wanted to arrive one step ahead of the sectors. I found myself in a counter (in the company of Mohoric, Pedersen, Devriendt and Ballerini, Ed.) a bit by chance. I followed Mohoric coming back up, and it came out like this…
What do you feel when you enter these mythical sectors in the lead?
I know it’s an expression, but I actually got goosebumps. I have already competed in the Tour de France, climbed mythical passes, but when you hear the spectators shouting your name in the sectors, it is an even different emotion. It gives chills. But I did not smile so far, I was in pain from the effort.
Are you afraid when you arrive at full speed on a sector like the Trouée d’Arenberg?
During the reconnaissance of the course on Friday, I was already thinking that it was a mistake to be there. For volunteering. When you enter a sector at 60 km/h, there is bound to be fear. But that’s also why I wanted to tackle these sectors one step ahead. In the Trouée, I was focused on my front wheel. I didn’t want to look at the end so as not to take a moral blow.
Then the favorites came back to you…
By then I had already dropped out of the leading group, so I was happy to be there. I had given a lot, and I especially let the favorites do their thing. It was weird to be there, in the middle of the champions. I lived what I saw on TV every year.
Were you afraid of losing the top 10?
Not especially. Thanks to my teammates Matis Louvel and Connor Swift, I knew there was a big gap behind. With Adrien Petit, Jasper Stuyven and Mathieu van der Poel, we rode well until the finish. Everyone was exhausted. In the sprint, I was out of juice.
Does such a result make you want to come back next year?
I’m still hot, so I’ll answer yes. When everything goes well like today (Sunday), it makes you want to. But it remains Roubaix. Everything can happen.
letelegramme Fr Trans