All of the riders who finished stage nine of the Tour de France will have been glad just to have made it to the end, but the relief will be much greater for Romain Bardet, who somehow managed to lost just seven seconds despite suffering three punctures in a ride that he has now uploaded to Strava.
Having avoided the early crash that took out fellow GC contender Richie Porte, Bardet’s travails began on the very first cobble sector after 47.8km, where his Strava stats show that he was stood at the side of the road for 30 seconds while he got a wheel from team-mate Alexis Vuillermoz.
Things seemed to be OK for Bardet at that point, but after covering the second cobbled sector at 40kmh he stopped again, this time changing bikes for the one on top of his team car.
No surprises then that it’s at this point that Strava says that Bardet hit his top speed, with the data showing him powering along at 136kmh thanks to his SRM computer still attached to his bike atop the team car behind.
This little boost to his average speed over, Bardet then changed back to his original bike after 59.6km – nearly 12km after he first suffered the puncture – to get his Strava stats (and his race) back on track.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, this was only the start of his tumultuous day in the saddle as after he regained contact with the front group he then suffered another puncture on the seventh sector of cobbles at Bersée. Thankfully this time there was less faffing about and he was back under way just 20 seconds after coming to a halt.
What followed was an epic chase for Bardet and his Ag2r La Mondiale team-mates that not only got him back into the front group once again, but also pick up a KOM on the three-star Cysoing sector – going seven second faster than the best effort from Paris-Roubaix.
Bardet will have hoped that that was the end of his drama for the day, but it was not to be as he punctured for a third time on the very last sector of cobbles at Hem and enduring a wheel change that seemed to take an aeon according television but took 25 seconds according to Strava.
What followed from there was a desperate chase as Bardet was aided by team-mate Oliver Naesen to come ever so close to the back of the GC contenders, ending up losing just seven seconds.
Incredibly Bardet averaged 50kmh for this six-kilometre, seven-minute chase, working incredibly hard to limit his losses and also taking a KOM on the final 1.4km section into Roubaix at an average speed of 60kmh.
After that performance, and the performance of his team-mates, it seems quite suitable that Bardet titled his ride “Roubaix: You cant avoid bad luck, but your friends can save your day.”