Paris Roubaix Report @ 14 April.
Watching PR live was one thing, but working on it took matters to another level. The three Mike’s agreed that MO’R would do the driving and both ML & MO’B would run the wheels and the bidons. The Delko Sports Director had given the BiciSport team something like six meeting points for the race. Technically we were not allowed to drive on the race course inside the race envelope (that was a big no no), so it was … cut across country driving like an idiot and get in front of the race for the next pass point. Shit, how does this work …
The start from Compiegne at 11.00am was simple enough, and up through Cambrai into deep rural France, first stop being the Quivey/Viesly cobbles (Sectors 28/25). The break of the day had already happened, so all good.
Second feeding stop was at the Maing cobbles, and that was where the driving got really interesting with numerous support teams all doing the same thing (driving with purpose and vigor, others may choose to call it speeding). Through the villages of St Python (no Monty there !), we blasted through Haussy in a heartbeat, and straight into Maing nice and early. Geez, that was fun and all a blur. By the time the bike race got to Maing the proverbial had hit the fan … the peloton was now in four groups, the hurt box wide open and doing a good trade. Brenton Jones had a mechanical problem and was in group four. The bike race looked like a grenade had gone off and we were a fair distance still to Wallers Arenberg.
Next stop on the PR magical mystery tour was supposed to be the Wallers Arenberg Forest, but … sorting out Brenton had meant a rethink as we were now way behind schedule. Going to Wallers was dropped and we headed to the Templeuve cobbles (Sector 8). Mike Lawson serviced the leading Delko rider, but then we were in a bind as to what to do now. Trouble was you couldn’t drive within the race envelope. What now ?.
We cut across country & hurtled (with purpose) down the A23 freeway towards Lille then decided to see if we could find the race one last time near Hem. Chances were zero at best.
Mike O’Brien is the Human Google Maps … with a short cut off the A23, through the industrial suburb of Fretlin (who knows where that is !), left, right, dirt road, left again. Somehow we popped out of a tiny rural side street straight into the PR race ! !. Crikey MO’B you’re a xxxxing genius. We’d gone from 10 minutes behind the leaders to 5 minutes in front & no idea how we just did it … nice job Mike O’Brien.
Crowds were huge waiting for the leaders and here we were in a rented VW van (with the all important accreditation sticker on the VW windscreen) and somehow in disbelief we’d landed in front of the Roubaix classic. Still smiling we parked up at the Hem cobbles (10k from the finish) and waited for Phil Gilbert to do the deed.
Thanks to Chris Jones for giving us the opportunity & the Delko Marseille team (and Brenton Jones) for being such inspiring individuals.
This is the last BiciSport in Flanders blog. Hope you enjoyed the ride.