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Slovenian sprinter Borut Bozic was heralded by his team Astana after producing the key attack that helped them gain fourth place in the 113th Paris-Roubaix, writes Jessica Lamb.
‘Hvala, hvala, hvala!’ Astana’s Twitter feed shouted, calling him the man of the day after his storming move on the five-star secteur, Carrefour de l’Arbre.
As the final major block of pave, it was where the race began to explode, the riders battling into a strong head wind. Bozic steamed through the dust, attacking the peloton to join Lotto-Soudal’s Jurgen Roelandts at the head of the race.
This took the pressure off team leader Lars Boom, who had been caught up in several of the day’s crashes and expended valuable power. It left him fresh enough to bridge to the winning break after the final cobblestone sector and, though he didn’t have enough to take a podium spot, he sprint for fourth behind John Degenkolb in the velodrome.
It was a team performance to be proud of, and Bozic certainly was.
“I think for Astana fourth place is really good,” he said. “I’m proud of the team. We showed today that Astana can be strong in the first part of the Classics. We played a team role and for us it was perfect.”
The race set off at a blistering pace in the dry weather and achieved an average of 43kph, something Bozic admitted he struggled with early on. But when Boom was still with him inside the last 30km he knew he had to go.
He said: “We raced full gas. You saw after all the sections of pave I was the last rider. Actually, it was natural selection.
“The team was together near the finish then, in the last 30k, when I saw the moment to attack, I attacked.
“There was a possibility now to save Lars’s energy for the end and actually it was perfect because when the group caught me he went out himself, with good riders.”
Bozic described Paris-Roubaix as “rock and roll” in the final 100km and was already looking forward to next year’s renewal.
“It’s never the same, and it’s never boring,” he said. “I think Lars can win Paris-Roubaix. Why not?”