Peter Sagan had one dream when first racing as a child: to win Paris-Roubaix in the famous velodrome. He checked that off today, with a long-range attack at 54km out and a sprint celebration in the rainbow jersey.
Bora-Hansgrohe‘s star adds Paris-Roubaix to his 2016 Tour of Flanders title and three consecutive wins in the Road World Championships.
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“When I was younger, it was always my dream to win Paris-Roubaix,” Sagan said. “I didn’t think about the World Championships and Flanders.
“If someone asked me if I would change my World title for Roubaix, I’d say no, but now I have Flanders and Roubaix. That’s an amazing feeling. It’s very nice.”
Sagan attacked 54km out for the finish in the Roubaix velodrome where, in 2008, he was captured after an attack and passed by Andy Fenn to finish second in the junior Paris-Roubaix.
Having riddent he race seven times in the professional ranks, he could finally lift his arms in celebration. And he did so in the famous rainbow jersey by beating Swiss champion Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale). Dillier was the last remaining from an all-day escape group that Sagan joined after his attack.
Watch: Paris-Roubaix 2018 highlights
“This is the first time that I was fighting for first place in my life in the velodrome. It was emotional. I just felt good and I knew I’d had a good spring and could do well here,” continued Sagan.
“I was confident, but also, I will never undervalue somebody. In the end, I’m happy with how I finished the race because I was also done.
“Towards the end, I asked him if we are going to work together and he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m going to work with you.’ I tried to finish him on the cobbles and thought, ‘Now it’s not possible drop him.’
“I had confidence I could do the sprint, but I was also cramping in the end too. In the end, I did it. It’s a very big moment for me.”
Sagan heaped praise on his team, with star riders Daniel Oss and Marcus Burghardt came through. He took responsibility after Quick-Step Floors launched Philippe Gilbert through the Trouée d’Arenberg and Zdenek Stybar shortly after. After those moves faded, 2017 winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) attacked before Sagan countered with success.
“I said, ‘This is the moment that I’ll take it.’ They were giving me the time updates all the time, but I was thinking that with five to seven riders behind, they weren’t going to work well together,” Sagan said.
“I thought, I’ll just go constant. If they come to me, OK, and if not, it’s also OK. The guys were attacking behind and that was costing a lot of energy for them. I had very good luck also because I never punctured or was involved in a crash like years before. It just happened. I’m very happy.”