Facing a €10,000 shortfall and imminent cancellation, the under-19 edition of Paris-Roubaix found itself a saviour in the form of Roubaix winner John Degenkolb, and in a legion of Roubaix fans. The race will go on.
Hearing of the race’s difficulty in closing a sponsorship gap, Degenkolb, who won Paris-Roubaix in 2015, started a GoFundMe campaign on February 16. Less than 24 hours later, the campaign has raised €11,500 from more than 300 individuals, a figure that continues to rise.
“Immediately it was clear to me that I wanted to do everything possible to prevent this worst case,” Degenkolb wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Not only because I have a very special relationship to Paris-Roubaix. A race that fascinated me already as I was a child and directly infected me with the fascination for cycling. But also because of its importance for the support of young talents. In France, in Germany, worldwide. If cycling should have a sustainable future we need such races for the young guns — hardly anyone knows that better than me.”
Paris-Roubaix Juniors has run every year since 2003, and counts among its winners Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas (2004), as well as Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven (2010) and Mads Pedersen (2013), both of whom are teammates of Degenkolb.
The junior and espoir editions of Paris-Roubaix are organised by Vélo-Club de Roubaix Lille Métropole and John Malaise.
Degenkolb assured Malaise earlier this week that regardless of the outcome of his crowdfunding campaign, the Roubaix champion would personally put up the necessary funds to allow Paris-Roubaix Juniors to continue. But the campaign has already hit its goal, and continues to accelerate.
Funds over the targetted €10,000 will go the Amis des Paris-Roubaix group, a volunteer organisation that cares for the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix. Degenkolb became an ambassador for the group in October.
According to the list of donors, the campaign has seen donations from Michael Rogers, Heinrich Haussler, and Rick Zabel, among some 300 others. Degenkolb kicked off the campaign with a €2,500 donation of his own.
On Sunday, Degenkolb celebrated a double victory, taking the final stage of the Tour de la Provence in addition to securing the future of Paris-Roubaix Juniors.
“Together we can make a small contribution to protect cycling history,” Degenkolb said.
Click here to donate to the campaign.