Anderson’s excellent adventure at Paris-Roubaix
Team Oregon club president Jim Anderson is also an assistant coach with the USA Cycling development program. He recently accompanied the Junior 16-18 National Team to the Junior Paris-Roubaix race in France as part of a larger trip that started in Belgium at the Tour of Flanders. The Junior Paris-Roubaix course uses many of the same roads as the pros, which race later in the day. Anderson sent Cycling Action this update.
By Jim Anderson
ROUBAIX, France — We had huge success for the team in France at Paris-Roubaix Juniors. All of our riders finished, which is amazing in this difficult race. Poland, Estonia, etc. finished with a big ZERO! To top it off, USA Cycling rider Lawson Craddock got third, and all of our riders finished in the top 50. We had a couple of crashes (yeah, those cobbles are tricky!) and three flat tires.
As with most good results over here, Lawson didn’t get it done alone. David Kessler saw our top two riders ahead of him with flat tires, and he made a quick wheel change, giving Lawson his rear wheel. Neutral support wasn’t nearby, and we were car 19 in the caravan, so this was the quickest option. It allowed Lawson to stay in the lead group and eventually make the podium. Our other team member rode an ENTIRE section of pave on a flat! Thankfully the riders were on tubulars and able to “ride” their flats. If they had been riding clinchers the tire and tube would have come off the wheel and wrapped around the cassette, hub, spokes and frame.
Later, I was positioned in the feed zone on an overpass, the only “hill” in the entire race. We managed to get a bottle to all of our riders and didn’t need to use our back-up plan for another feedzone. Then, in an effort to hop back in front of the race, we took some shortcuts over small, one-lane French country roads. We never really got lost thanks to GPS and my Belgium sougniuer driver. We eventually got back onto the course ahead of the race, which was cool because it meant we had a rolling enclosure all the way to Roubaix!
We saw major parties the entire way. It was common to see an entire kilometer of camper vans parked on farmers’ roads. There were huge BBQs. I saw plenty of baguettes, wine and cheese, too. There were police everywhere, and many of them were confused to see us approach until they actually saw our official sticker. Some intersections had four officers on them, and there were more blocking alleyways. Many of the police are students, so they are required to do this.
We got to the Roubaix velodrome, quickly parked and found our way into the center to watch finish. Because the announcing was all in french, I was clueless but had a little translation from our sougnieur. We heard our rider was in the lead group, so that was good. We didn’t have any communication as we didn’t have a radio for the race — only the team car did. They entered the velodrome and circled the track for 1.5 laps (which I have on video but can’t get off my camera).
It was a close sprint and a very close photo finish for second-place, where Lawson just missed out and took third. We grabbed Lawson before he almost collapsed as he was winding down on the track. Then all of our riders finished within the next five or seven minutes. Other USA Cycling staff cleaned up Lawson and got him to the podium, while I took the other guys back to the van. All of the riders got to experience the historic Roubaix showers!
We also stayed and watched the pro race from the stands (which were all free!). No admission charges anywhere – amazing. Most of you know the result of that race. After the race we headed home as soon as possible. It was a short drive to Izegem, and the riders had to get all their gear ready for a 6 a.m. airport run Monday morning. I saw tons of racers in the airport. The most famous was probably George Hincapie. I spoke with the Garmin/Transitions mechanic for a while. He had a great story I’ll write about later.