Stannard forced the final selection of five riders, which also included Sep Vanmarcke and Edvald Boasson Hagen, on the Camphin-en-Pévèle sector of cobbles with 20km to go in the chaotic and crash-ridden race.
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His third place matches those previously earned by Roger Hammond in 2004 and Barry Hoban in 1972.
“It’s pretty awesome [to be on the podium], but it’s so close but so far,” Stannard said at the finish. “Shame I wasn’t in front of Roger. Next year!”
Stannard made two unsuccessful attacks on the final run in to the velodrome finish in an attempt to distance the stronger sprinters of Boasson Hagen and Boonen. He explained that the efforts took their toll in the dash to the line.
“I thought I was out of the running, with a kilometre to go Edvald [Boasson Hagen] and I were off the back, but Edvald brought us back and then as they were opening up the sprint I came nicely over the top and had a bit of speed, so I was pretty lucky.”
“It was a real tough race, the early break didn’t go for a long time and it was full gas all day. I think it shows how hard the race was, there wasn’t much speed left at the end.”
Team Sky’s Servais Knaven talks about Ian Stannard’s performance
Stannard praised the work of his Sky team, who at one point in the race had four riders in the lead group but lost Salvatore Puccio and Gianni Moscon to a crash. Countryman Luke Rowe made one last big turn for Stannard approaching the finale, setting up his move.
“I think the Italians were struggling with their bike handling skills today!” Stannard joked.
“The team did an amazing job putting us in the front for all those sections first, you can ride the line you want then and you can see the slippy bits coming up. I think there were quite a few big crashes early on and it was nice to be out of the way of them.
“I think my only mistake maybe was attacking so much in the final. I didn’t really want to come in with Edvald and Tom [Boonen], normally my strength is on my own, but there we are.”