Van Baarle is stunned by the coup: the Germans are suffering in the “Hell of the North”

Van Baarle is amazed by the blow
Germans are suffering in the “Hell of the North”

Top German drivers John Degenkolb and Nils Politt narrowly missed their personal goals in Paris-Roubaix. But that also goes for favorites. Because at the end of the fastest edition in the history of the glorious classic, an outsider wins.

Sweaty, dirty and completely exhausted, John Degenkolb fell on the grass in the heart of the famous Roubaix velodrome and had to blow hard first. At the end of the fastest Paris-Roubaix in history, the 2015 winner finished 18th in the statistics, which did not bother him as he stalked the dusty cobbled tracks of northern France. “I didn’t even stop to pee. It was full throttle from start to finish,” the 33-year-old told CyclingMagazine. “I’m not giving up on the dream of being ahead here again. I love this race.”

Happy but scarred: Dylan van Baarle.

(Photo: IMAGO/Belga)

In the end, Dylan van Baarle was in front. And although the Dutchman had already finished second in the Tour of Flanders, he was even more of an underdog. In the end, van Baarle completed what his Ineos-Grenadiers team had already started 209 kilometers from the finish in the “Hell of the North”, covered at an average speed of 45.792 km / h. There the British team tore through the peloton on a ridge of wind and lost many favourites.

Degenkolb also found himself behind. “It was boring. It took a lot of strength not to be there. There wasn’t much you could do but stay calm. And of course that got the aids up because everyone had to drive.” , said Degenkolb. It was only after the famous sector of the Arenberg forest at a good 90 kilometers from the finish that Degenkolb found himself in the lead. Nils Politt from Cologne, 2nd in the Queen of Classics in 2019, was in the lead from the start. “I felt good and drove carefully,” said the 28-year-old driver. “Before Arenberg, I left to avoid stress. It worked well, I was among the favourites.”

“I was alone. It was crazy”


John Degenkolb loves the run, even though the shot didn’t work out again.

(Photo: IMAGO/

Politt was annoyed that he only finished 22nd on his record. But it also shows that every position is important on the 30 cobbled sectors which stretch over 55 kilometres. “When Wout van Aert left, Greg van Avermaet left a gap and the group was gone. Two positions higher and I would have been there. My legs were still good. It’s annoying to lose a race like that”, Politt said. In the end, second-placed van Aert also felt he was a loser. Shortly after his corona illness, including a week in isolation, the Belgian champions were still deep-stacked before the start. In the race he was clearly the strongest driver, repeatedly attacking and closing the gaps. But he also missed van Baarle’s decisive start just before the brutal five-star Carrefour de l’Arbre sector.

“I couldn’t believe it when I walked into the velodrome alone. I looked where the others were. But I was alone. It was crazy,” van Baarle said after the 254.5 ride kilometers. In the 2021 edition, he always fell outside the time limit, and he will remember the current one as the greatest success of his career. And while not all the drivers had crossed the finish line, a delighted van Baarle lifted the huge cobblestone. In the end, all the drivers were tied again, whether they were winners, second or last. As usual, people gathered in the old concrete showers in the underbelly of the velodrome and washed the Sunday dirt off their bodies. Also sword butt. The veteran now wants to recover a little and then shine in his “home race” Frankfurt-Eschborn.

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