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Planet X's Sam Harrison king of pavé at Paris Roubaix

Paris Roubaix Juniors (125km, 30km of pavé!)

Got my season kicked off good and proper on the weekend getting 7th in the junior Paris Roubaix and being awarded ‘best rider on the cobbles’ thanks to my epic solo 40km attack. The pressure was on really as since turning junior last year I have struggled to get results on the road so I was really up for this, the first big race of my season.

We arrived the day before the race and went straight out to do some pedalling on the cobbles (or pavé as the foreigners like to call it). Having ridden this race last year, getting 35th,I wrongly remembered the cobbles as being ‘not that bad’. However as soon as we hit the first section that we were previewing I remembered why I was basically crying with joy when I reached the velodrome the year before! After just 100m on the cobbles I was thinking ‘what the hell am I doing riding a road bike across a load of stones’! However a few cheers from the locals and a look down at my shiny new GB kit and the moral was back to the top.

sam harrison paris roubaix 2010

We rocked up to the start a good hour before we were to set off on the road, plenty of time for the nerves to kick in as the foreigners wandered round staring everyone out. My new Nanolight bike was absolutely sparkling thanks to our awesome mechanic, and with the sun out and all those rainy rides in Wales behind me I remembered why I chose to have a white bike, it certainly does look the part! So everything was set ready to go to war.

There was 40km before the first set of cobbles and to say it was carnage would be a massive understatement. With Estonians and Slovakians hitting street signs for fun while trying to move up on the pavement! And everyone else basically wrestling each other to stay in the top 20. I was well positioned never moving out of the top 30, however just 10k from the first set of cobbles I punctured (some luck there!).

sam harrison showdown in the velodrome paris roubaix 2010

So a quick change it was and I was back on diving my way through the team cars at 60k an hour trying to get back on. I got back on just in time for the real bitch fight for positioning in the first set of cobbles, I stupidly dive bombed on the pavement into a corner but somehow came out better off and back in the top 30. I stayed here for the first few sets of pavé and spent them bouncing off Portuguese and Spanish riders who were bobbling all over there bikes having probably spent the past weeks riding up 20k climbs in 40 degrees heat. Then with 60k to go the race was still all together and it had eased up a lot after a section of cobbles so I attacked up the inside with no reaction at all from the group.

So I pressed on and in no time had a minute on the bunch, and was thinking as usual  ‘why have I attacked solo with 60k to go’... ...I spent my time cruising over the pavé on my Nanolight then putting the pressure down on the tarmac.

So I pressed on and in no time had a minute on the bunch, and was thinking as usual  ‘why have I attacked solo with 60k to go’. But I kept riding tempo and felt awesome to say the least. The gap held at a minute 30 for 30k. While I spent my time cruising over the pavé on my Nanolight then putting the pressure down on the tarmac. Then with 20k to go a Russian rider Andreas Vavlovlovidicocovikivodovichocokovladerich caught me and straight away started messing around waving his arms around like he was showing me his latest dance move.

With no legs left on me, with 15k to go he rode away on the cobbles and I was caught and passed by a group of 3 including team mate Dan Mclay, leaving me 5th on the road but riding at about 5kmph!!

I was caught again by a group of 6 but I latched on and managed to recover big time ready for the showdown in the velodrome as there were still top 10 places at stake. I managed to drag myself round to get 3rd in the sprint from my group placing me 7th in the race.

sam harrison best rider on the cobbles paris roubaix 2010

So after the efforts I did in the race I was over the moon to be able to hang on and actually get a result. I was also awarded with the ‘best rider on the cobbles’ trophy which again was good to gain something for my efforts on the day other than sore legs and stupid tan lines...

So hopefully it’s the start of a good year for me and with many more Nation Cup races (internationally junior races) to come I hope I can grab a win, let the hard work begin!! Next stop Chez Republic for a 5 day stage race.


All photos courtesy of Etienne Garnier of velofotopro.com

14 April 2010

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