While we've been partying it up with the Giro, the U23 version of Paris-Roubaix went off this weekend. Dutch rider Coen Vermeltfoort of (big surprise!) Rabobank won the sprint in the velodrome from an eight-up break.
The race had an inauspicious start. A massive crash on the first section of pave at kilometer 51 nuetralized the proceedings and led to a second depart. A group of five immediately escaped on the next section of cobbles. Their escape lasted approximately 50 km, only to be caught after the Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes sector of pave at km 109. With just under 80 km to go, forty riders remained in the bunch.
Clinton Avery of New Zealand, who finished ninth last year, made a short-lived effort to escape alone, but the field quickly brought him back. With 30 km to go, the winning move containing most of the favorites formed. The break included: Danny Summerhill of Slipstream, Two Italians of U.C. Bergamasca, Giorgio Brambilla and Stefano Locatelli, Two Dutch riders from Rabobank, Jetse Bol and Coen Vermeltfoort, Swiss rider Laurent Bueret, Two Belgians, Stijn Joseph of Beveren 2000 and Maxim Debusschere of PWS Eijssen, New Zealander Clinton Avery of Soenens-Germond, and French rider Peter Brouzes of Nogent. Debusschere was dropped from the break, while Locatelli flatted, which left eight riders to contest the finish.
Favored to win, Vermeltfoort won the sprint, with Brambilla and Bueret filling out the podium. Said Vermeltfoort, "I am content to have won here at Roubaix, to have the victory. I was ready for this course, though at the start, I was not the sole leader of my team. My condition is good over the past month, and I was born for this type of race. My only apprehension lay in the fact that I was finishing in a velodrome. But my turn of speed turned out to be rather good."
American Danny Summerhill was seventh in the sprint. Yay!