A rider who was locked out of the velodrome in last year’s edition of Paris-Roubaix returned to the race and secured a phenomenal top-10 finish in 2019.
Evaldas Šiškevičius, a Lithuanian with the Delko Marseille Provence squad, was a major talking point after the 2018 edition of the ‘Hell of the North’, when he finished outside the time limit and found the gates of the finishing track were locked.
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The 30-year-old returned to the race on Sunday (April 14), his perseverance paying off as he finished in the top-10 after 257km of brutal racing.
Team boss Frédéric Rostaing said: “I am very proud of the 9th place for Evaldas in this race.
“He took advantage of his perseverance that helped him finish the event last to finish with the best this year.
“He deserves it. This top-10 resonates like a great victory and corroborates the very good beginning the team has had, being ubiquitous on major events since January.”
Last year Šiškevičius had set himself the goal of finishing Paris-Roubaix, but things went awry when he slipped out the back with more than 40km remaining.
He rode 23km with the broom wagon looming over his shoulder, before puncturing on the five-star Carrefour de l’Arbre cobbled sector.
It looked like this might be the end of his race, but he was able to get a wheel change from a broken down team car that was being towed to the line.
An hour after Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) had claimed victory, Šiškevičius found that the organisers had locked the gates of the Roubaix Velodrome.
A sympathetic marshal let the rider in and he was able to cross the line, albeit outside of the time cut.
But it was a different story for Šiškevičius this year.
After holding is position in the peloton for much of the race, he attacked 20km from home and rode to the line in the company of Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Zdenek Štybar (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), finishing 9th and just 47 seconds down on race winner Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
His previous best result was a second-place finished on stage three of the 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné.
Šiškevičius said after the race: “I’m so happy.
“I wanted to show that I could do something else.
“The assistants shouted on the side of the road and the guys were crazy in the car.
“It really touched me.”
It was a day of success for the French Pro Continental team, as their rider Joseph Areruya became the first black African rider to finish Paris-Roubaix.
The Rwandan finished outside the time cut but made history by crossing the line in Roubaix.