Adrien Petit, Laurent Pichon and Tom Devriendt, these other “winners”

Frenchman Laurent Pichon, 9th in Paris-Roubaix, at the exit of a cobbled sector, April 17, 2022.

Paris-Roubaix, love it or hate it at first sight, in the first cobblestone sector. It is instinctive, primary and without return. Norteño Adrien Petit has always “I had this career in my skin” and even more after his 6me place this Sunday, April 17. Lauren Pichon less. And not only because her marital status indicates a birth in Quimper, in Finisterre. “I came only once in 2012 and I hated itsupports the Arkea-Samsic corridor. I had come a little like that and had given up because my hands hurt. »

Pichon later reconciled himself to a sun-kissed “Hell of the North” raced at a record average 45.8km/h. At 35 years old, the Breton is still stunned with this 8me place, surprised to have accompanied the cadores almost all afternoon, these Van Aert, van der Poel and the winner of the day, a Dylan van Baarle arrived alone at the Vélodrome de Roubaix.

The Dutch also say “I hate cobblestones” and that pleasure comes first from feeling “Go faster than the others, let’s see when we can overtake them”. An admitted and already half-forgiven sadism. Van Baarle makes a beautiful winner and almost announces it after his 2me place in the Tour of Flanders, fifteen days before.

An elegant pilot but a bit diesel, the current runner-up in the world has long put his qualities at the service of others within the Ineos (formerly Sky) line-up. However, it is he, the perfect partner who offers the British team its first victory in Roubaix and is entitled to the embrace of his coach, Dave Brailsford, moved like a day in the yellow jersey on the Champs-Élysées.

In Roubaix, the winner walks away with a cobblestone as a trophy and the others with memories for a lifetime. Their names are Adrien Petit, Laurent Pichon, Tom Devriendt (4me) and pedaled a little with the legend this Sunday, the most evil and ruthless classic, but also the most open to the brave and opportunistic one day.

Race director Christian Prudhomme even pays homage to these supporting roles. “When Devriendt and Pichon are taken over by the favorites and we think they will end up being forgotten in the classification, but not completely. They fight to the end for a place of honor. Paris-Roubaix is ​​also about this kind of story.” he told world.

“Motorcycle” Mohoric and solidarity among the French

Take for example the so-called Tom Devriendt, Petit’s teammate in the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team. At 30 years old, the Belgian has developed his career anonymously in the peloton, especially recognizable by his long blonde hair that protrudes from the helmet and known by those capable of giving you the podium. of Binche-Chimay-Binche in 2017. At the Roubaix velodrome, Devriendt lacked a bit of freshness to jump over the line to Stefan Küng and get on the podium with his compatriot Wout van Aert (2me), running for a convalescent from Covid-19.

Adrien Petit can always tell us that his comrade “ He had been in the shape of his life for three weeks.”it was hard for the latter to imagine, starting from Compiègne (Oise), leading the way in sectors as mythical as Mons-en-Pévèle, Cysoing or Camphin-en-Pévèle. “This morning I was thinking about doing my teamwork for Alexander Kristoff, he trusts English after a long journey through the Flemish media. But I was lucky to be up front and then I gave it my all. »

The Belgian also took the aspiration of the ” motorcycle [Matej] Mahoric »according to the expression of a Pichon present in the lead to take advantage of the relays of the Slovenian, a time capable of following van Baarle in the Carrefour de l’Arbre before giving meter by meter to the future winner in the last 15 kilometers.

In this key sector, Paris-Roubaix delivers all its brutality. There is no strategy anymore, no teamwork, just scattered runners. We fight, we smash the pedals with what remains of strength and life in the middle of the rows of spectators. At the exit, Petit and Pichon forget the color of their shirt and make common cause for “solidarity among the French”the north advances.

The Velodrome is not far away, the last two sectors are anecdotal and we do not sacrifice a place of honor. Petit, however, relives his looming cramps, the reminders he must give to get back to van der Poel, Küng and Van Aert ever since he came out of the Arenberg gap two hours earlier.

When he rewinds the film of the last few days a little more, the Frenchman evokes that flu caught at the end of March, the abandonment in the Tour of Flanders “forceless, empty”, six-hour departures to unlock the legs. Her Sunday didn’t start much better. Like van Aert and Küng, he caught a strong gust of wind behind the curb thrown by van Baarle’s teammates. “After 50 km, I find myself in the second peloton, I tell myself “Flawless, it was over before I even hit the cobbles”, but I stayed focused and when the junction came 100 bollards later I felt I had good legs. »

“I was stressed like a neo-professional”

An easy word and obvious sense of the anecdote, Adrien Petit had already entertained journalists in October with his misadventures between rain, mud, puncture and fall in a beet field in the Haveluy sector. He had already confessed his desire to return there six months later. At that time, Laurent Pichon enjoyed the comfort of a sofa. Warm.

Roubaix? Not your war. He thought that he was scalded by the first experience of him before, however, volunteering to supplement the sick and injured within his team. ” On Saturday night I was stressed out like a neo-pro. The day before, we had explored the Arenberg Gap and I was wondering if it would be a good idea to come back here. » Safe from blisters this time, “Pipiche” claims to have never thought of victory, “You have to be realistic, but on the podium a little bit. »

This place of honor makes him say that he is getting old. “maybe like good wine” and that you realize more of your lucky to do this job. Yes, he will probably return in 2023. Adrien Petit too. Ninth in 2017, this former French sprint contender “He is getting closer to the podium and he hopes to get there one day.” For some, the queen of the classics requires perseverance, places of honor and the occasional misfortune before surrendering. Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle ended up putting the ring on his finger at the age of 37 in 1992.

Yves Lampaert is one of his perseverants. The Belgian finished for the fourth time in the top ten (10me). For a while, he even thought about getting van Baarle back in partnership with Matej Mohoric. It was before making a sun, unbalanced by the hand of a spectator in the Willems sector, in Hem.

Moment of dread, then relief as the Quick-Step rider climbs back into the saddle, after falling backwards like a judoka. At the Velodrome, Lampaert smiles. The bike is hardly lowered, the result is already forgotten. The father of the family takes his very young son, Alois, in his arms. He may not have won Paris-Roubaix yet, but in his eyes you’d swear he was the happiest of men this Sunday too.

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