Drawing the curtains back, revealing a crisp and sunny spring morning as birds chirped in the distance, the clock read a sprightly 06:30 but that didn’t matter, it was race day at the 2015 edition of Paris-Roubaix.
A race steeped in history as long as its many cobblestone sections, the famous Trouée d’Arenberg and Carrefour de l’Arbre strike fear into the hearts of the riders in the bunch, but equally inspire the numerous fans that create a tunnel of noise for those brave enough to tackle the Hell of the North.
We sat down with winner John Degenkolb (JD), Head of Operations and Finance Marloes Poelman (MP) who was in the race car that day, and teammate-turned-coach Albert Timmer (AT), to look behind the scenes and reflect on that fabled day.
Making their way from breakfast to the start of the race in Compiègne, nerves and excitement began to bubble and boil to the surface in equal measure, just like the numerous coffees that had already been consumed by riders and fans alike. In a flash and a blur, the pre-race team presentation ceremony and media duties were over and the riders were lined-up in unison, jostling for position behind the lead commissaire car, ready to get the 113th edition of Paris-Roubaix underway.
So, what was your role on that day?
A honk of horns, a vibrant flash of colours from the waving flag, and a sudden uproar from the thousands of fans roadside – the race was underway. With a strong tailwind behind them, the riders flew (albeit not literally thankfully) towards the first cobbled sections, completing 50 kilometres in the opening hour. Working well as a unit, the team moved forward en masse for the key points, as the cobbled sections came thick and fast, and the bunch reduced in numbers; with John always well towards the front and in a good position.
What do you remember happening from where you were in the race?
With the final moves made and after brilliant work from the team, a super-strong John found himself in the elite front group of seven that charged through the outskirts of Roubaix, towards the famous velodrome that the race is so synonymous with.
What was it like coming towards the finish?
After a hard-fought 253 kilometres and almost six hours on the bike, the race was over – John Degenkolb was crowned the 2015 Paris-Roubaix winner. Jubilant celebrations and tears of joy followed for many in the team and of course the famous picture which was almost a cycling first with nearly all the guys and John up on the podium together.
How did it feel to win the race as a team? What stayed with you from that day, as either something physical but also anything you learned or took away?
As the spring sun set on the Roubaix velodrome, with the chants and exalted cheers of the crowds no more than a distant echo reverberating around the famous showers, the team packed up and left, continuing their jubilant celebrations after a Monumental day at Paris-Roubaix.
We hope you enjoyed this insight and recap into the 2015 edition of the race, and we hope that it’s whetted your appetite for what is to come in just a few weeks’ time on April 17th as we take on the Hell of the North once again.