Last-minute call up takes surprise Roubaix second place

What could Swiss champion Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale) complain about when finishing second to Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in Paris-Roubaix? After all, he didn’t even think he would be on Ag2r La Mondiale‘s seven-team for the race and he lost to three-time world champion Sagan, “the best rider of our era.”

Dillier rode in the escape the entire day and then, when his companions faded, stuck with the attacking Sagan all the way to the velodrome.

“I am very content,” Dillier said. “I did everything I could to try to win.

“It’s a bit of a disappointment that I couldn’t win. But to lose to the best rider of our era in a sprint, I cannot be too disappointed to lose against Peter Sagan.”

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The 27-year-old raced Strade Bianche, where he crashed, but not any of the cobbled Classics ahead of Paris-Roubaix, which is considered the toughest race of the spring campaign. While he was training in Spain, Ag2r La Mondiale called him and said to get to France to be ready to help leader Oliver Naesen.

“I came off a seven-day training camp at Gran Canaria. I trained 41 hours to come here without racing any races in the season,” Dillier added.

“I broke a finger at Strade Bianche five weeks ago and I didn’t think I was going to make the selection for Roubaix. I was selected at the very last moment, and man, I am glad I came.”


Watch: Paris-Roubaix 2018 highlights


Dillier escaped with a group with around 215 kilometres to race. Those early moves typically fade among the fireworks, but Dillier was able to continue to shine

Sagan caught and passed the others, and then worked with Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) and Dillier. He first dropped Wallays on the Cysoing à Bourghelles sector and then rode with Dillier to the velodrome.

“To get into the breakaway, was one of the hardest moments. The final is also very hard. We spend almost six hours battling for position over the cobblestones. It exhausts your body. It’s tiring. It’s about your mental strength if you’re willing to push the pedals through pain. The last three sectors were really tough as well,” he explained.

“When I came into the velodrome, I had the good position on the outside. Sagan opened up his sprint at the same moment I was about to go. He accelerated a bit faster than me.”

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Dillier’s biggest victories to date came in 2017: the Terme Luigiane stage of the Giro d’Italia and the overall in the Route du Sud stage race.

“With Peter, it’s like he’s the angel and devil in the same person. He was like an angel because he was working with me, he’s the devil because to go man to man in a sprint sprint to the finish line, he’s hard to beat.

“I was really happy. We worked well together. We respected each other. We did a nice sprint and he was better, so just congratulations to him.”