Wout van Aert rode to an outstanding 13th place in his first participation in Paris-Roubaix. The 23-year old Cyclocross World Champion of Team Verandas Willems-Crélan reached the finish line on his STEVENS Xenon in the same time as eventually 7th placed German pro Nils Politt as part of the second chase group. The 116th edition of this spring classic was won by Peter Sagan ahead of Silvain Dillier (Switzerland) and Niki Terpstra (Netherlands).
After 257km – including about 55km of infamous cobbles, or Pavés – the Willems-Crélan captain was 2:31 behind Sagan. About half a minute was due to a dropped chain in one of the final Pavés sections roughly 17km before the finish, which threw van Aert back from the first chase group (approx. 45 seconds behind) into the second at 1:25 minutes behind.
Within the first chase group – with places three to seven at 17km to go – Wout van Aert was well positioned and even took the lead several times. Yet, the two leaders, Sagan and Dillier, kept their advantage. Another chain drop sealed Wout’s fate and ruined all hopes for the podium. As part of the following chase group the shooting star from the cyclocross scene reached the finish line of one of cycling’s Monuments at the velodrome in Roubaix.
In no less than six classics of the current road cycling season the young rider on his STEVENS Xenon – technically and visually modified for the ”monumental” occasion – gave proof of his outstanding talent: Very active in the lead group in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, third in Strade Bianche, place ten at Gent-Wevelgem-Gent, 9th place in the Tour of Flanders and now place 13 in Paris-Roubaix.