Veteran Australian rider Mitch Docker rode his final race on Sunday, but a curtain-closing lap of the Roubaix velodrome wasn’t to be.
On the day after Docker’s 35th birthday he rode his retirement race. Making it to the startline was in itself an impressive feat, after Docker broke his elbow at the Benelux Tour only a month ago.
Docker’s tenth and final Paris-Roubaix was held under wet and muddy conditions, and the popular Australian was involved in the first crash of the day, just 200 m into the race, and retired before the finish.
After his early crash, Docker rode on beyond the Arenberg Forest – a five-star 2.3 km long cobbled sector that is one of the most difficult sections of Paris-Roubaix.
“When I was going across Arenberg Forest, I was happy this is the last time I will do Arenberg. I was in a bad way and it’s just so brutally hard,” said Docker.
“It was good to do it one last time and just to be broken by the end,” said Docker.
The Mitch Docker fan club painted the approach to the Arenberg Forest with “Mitch Mitch Mitch…” in celebration of Docker’s final race, and perhaps as encouragement into the arduous stretch of road where he had a terrible crash in 2016, suffering serious facial injuries.
Docker’s final Paris-Roubaix may not have turned out the way that he’d planned, but EF-Nippo’s post-race press release said that Docker was smiling in the team car, happy to have one last shot at his favourite race.
Docker’s first Paris-Roubaix appearance was in 2009 with Skil – Shimano. His top result from 10 starts was 15th, in 2011.
While Docker was unable to make it to the Roubaix Velodrome for one last ceremonial lap, with Docker’s ‘Life in the Peloton’ podcast and a potential career in media after cycling, this won’t be the last we hear of one of the most colourful and well-liked people in the professional peloton.