Sky’s Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins finished Paris-Roubaix, rode around the velodrome and sat quietly. They both placed in the top 10 – Thomas seventh and Wiggins ninth – but had to think about what that result meant.
“If I say something now,” Wiggins say, “I might say something stupid.”
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Wiggins rode to the team bus to take off his dusty black and blue kit, preferring to speak after he showered. Thomas remained on the infield’s grass and tried to explain their ride.
Thomas rode away on the front in a group with four-time winner Tom Boonen for 40 kilometres. When another group bridged to them ahead of the final 20 kilometres, he switched back to helping Sir Bradley.
They rode in a group of 11 at 8.5 kilometres out. It included three Omega Pharma riders – Niki Terpstra, Boonen and Zdenek Stybar – Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan, John Degenkolb and Sep Vanmarcke. Terpstra fired free at 6.2 kilometres remaining.
“I was on the back just trying to catch my breath,” Thomas said. “I was hoping that Brad would go but when he didn’t, the [Giant-] Shimano guy started coming and I rode with him.
“I was hoping that Brad would hit them in the end, but I guess he didn’t felt confident in doing so. Maybe he was waiting for Fabian to try something, I don’t know. I committed myself for him and that was it.”
Terpstra took his margin from 12 seconds at 4.0km, to 15 at 3.3 and to 20 at 1.5. The rest began to play for second place. Brad stepped outside the buses door and tried to explain. He said that he was pleased Liverpool won its football game but less so with his own performance.
“There’s a tinge of disappointment. I really had legs, even in the final, I felt strong,” Wiggins explained. “I was pinching myself a little bit, I don’t mind admitting that.”
Thomas chased some with Bert De Backer (team Giant-Shimano) but could not keep the gap small enough for Wiggins.
“I attacked, and then after that, I don’t know really, I just felt out-numbered,” Wiggins added. “And the run-in was quiet fast in the last five kilometres. Terpstra played it perfectly with [his team-mates] Stybar and Boonen.”
Their group arrived 20 seconds behind Terpstra. Degenkolb won the sprint for second ahead of Cancellara. Wiggins explained that he was simply pleased to be in such company.
“It was a real honour to be in the final, going past Boonen on the Carrefour [cobbled sector] was special. And then to come on the velodrome with a group like Cancellara. To be there was great. It gave me confidence that I can do it now and match those guys.”
Before stepping back on the team’s black bus, Wiggins said that he would return to race Paris-Roubaix again. Now, however, he “go back to the GC/mountain role” to race the Tour of California and fight for a spot next to Chris Froome on Sky’s Tour de France team.
Images from the 2014 edition of Paris-Roubaix, won by Niki Terpstra. Photos by Graham Watson
Late solo move by Niki Terpstra nets him the biggest win of his career; Wiggins and Thomas finish in chase