Eyewitness: Mavic at Paris-Roubaix 2015

Posted on

From the backseat of Mavic’s neutral service car, Tim Johns experiences the thrills, spills and close-calls of the most exciting one-day race in the world

Photographs: Timothy John
Mavic

We’re motoring. The lead Mavic car has a puncture (ironic, no?). We’re needed at the sharp end. Move on up.

 

The punters at the roadside are utterly oblivious to the speed of the convoy, and our car in particular. Get back! Please!

 

FUCK! How did we miss that rider/team car/spectator? Tonio Pacheco is either the best driver in the world or a madman. What’s that? He’s driven more than 30 editions of Roubaix? Kelly’s mechanic for both his victories here? Okay. Relief. No. Wait. FUCK!

 

I want to get out. I want to go home. I want to get as far as possible from this MADNESS.


This is the most exhilarating experience of my entire life. I can never watch Roubaix on television again. I want to stay in this race FOREVER. I’m going to push my feet straight through the footwell and tear off the door handle if I don’t relax.

 

The Cofidis rider pushed by his mechanic nearly comes to grief in the rapidly slowing convoy. Somehow he slows the bike in time: arse hung over the back wheel, knees locked out, weaving left and right. Everything happens in a split second.

 

Policeman ahead. We’re travelling at 140kph through a village. The car was sideways a moment ago as we tried to straightline a roundabout. The gendarme must have seen it. He’s flagging us down. No. Wait. He’s waving us through. This is Roubaix. Normal rules do not apply.

 

Cobbles. Relax. Tonio can’t overtake here. Shit. Forget that. He’s put two wheels on the verge. Now he’s accelerating. The spectators are mesmerised by the yellow car. Get back! Get back!

 

Dust. Now we can’t see. An inch from the end of the bonnet are racing cyclists and massive crowds. Tonio doesn’t lift for a second.

Rider ahead. Arm raised. Slowing down. So are we. Who is it? Doesn’t matter. Superstar or domestique, it’s the same deal: he needs a wheel. Our man Jerome Terrienne sends him on his way while I’m still trying to work out who he is. Neutral service, they call it. Apt.

 

Rider lying in the road ahead. Foetal position. Don’t look, don’t look. Horrible. Someone help him. Please.

 

Barriers on the Arenberg. Thank fuck for that. No one will be killed.
The convoy is a race within a race, but no racing driver in the world would accept these conditions. “Lampposts, you say? Pedestrians? No run off areas? And hundreds of cyclists on the circuit? Forget it.”

 

A rival team offers a Giant-Alpecin rider a bidon as he slides between team cars. Nice gesture, but akin to offering an ice cream cone to a man searching for the exit to a burning building. He has other things on his mind.

 

Whooooaaaa! Tonio decelerates from mach five to bring the car to a halt one inch from the door of a team car as the convoy queues for a secteur. The driver doesn’t even turn to look at us. Silence in the Mavic car. Then an laughter explodes. That was close.

Black Friday Mavic car

If you drove like this on an open road, you’d be jailed or banned for life. Or jailed for life.

 

Watch the helicopter to gauge the distance to the leaders. Very close. It’s low and staring right at us. Menacing.

 

Seb Piquet on Radio Tour. Class.

 

Stragglers ahead. A Trek rider handslings his Topsport partner through as they fight their way back to the peloton. Team loyalties count for nothing among the foot soldiers at Roubaix.

 

The hand written “Vive Wallers” sign held up by a local at the entrance to 17 is way more impressive than the ready-made “Wiggo” boards that many of the travelling punters are carrying. Biro beats manufactured support every time.

 

John Gadret is a fucking WARRIOR. Nothing but skin, bone and tattoos. He seems actually to be enjoying this.

Tonio is coaching the young driver of the other remaining Mavic car, a former Drapac rider, over the radio. He’s just driven his first Pais Basque, but Roubaix is another magnitude. My French is shitty, but even I can understand “Maxime. Klaxon. Avancer.” Translation: get on the horn, Max, and fight your way through.

 

Almost every secteur ends with a 90-degree bend. As if this wasn’t already hard enough.

 

Daniel Oss dismounts and removes his front wheel in a single movement. Pro-ness involves a lot more than pedalling.

 

Sheesh! Astana’s Ruslan Tleubayev makes the most amazing save: braking, locking up, his back wheel at 45 degrees to his front as the Movistar car brakes heavily in front of him. He even finds time to raise a hand in disgust.

 

Roubaix is the world’s longest criterium for riders dropped from the peloton. Sprint into secteurs, sprint from corners, sprint up the hilly village roads. Recover on the cobbles.

 

The punters do not see us if we’re following a rider. The car is bright yellow and we’re an inch behind the guy they’re cheering, but they only have eyes for the man on the bike. Cool, but dangerous.

Carrefour de l’Arbre. Crowds as large as the Arenberg, but no barriers. Careful, people.

 

If you put a “civilian” driver in the Paris-Roubaix convoy, someone would be killed. The Mavic drivers have all worked in cycling for years, or been pro riders; even the youngest of them. Impressive.

 

Read: The last wet Paris-Roubaix

 

Yikes! Closing in on Gediminas Bagdonas at 140kph. He’s glued to the bumper of the Ag2r team car, but his DS has seen us in the mirror, and moves a fraction to the right, pulling Bagodonas with him, as if on a string, granting us the two inches we need to pass them on the inside without slowing down.

 

Race radio. Degenkolb has won. It feels like news from another country.
The velodrome. Drained, exhilarated, and still alive. I’M ALIVE! Let’s do it again.

 



82 thoughts on “Eyewitness: Mavic at Paris-Roubaix 2015”

  1. This design is incredible! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!)
    Excellent job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you
    presented it. Too cool!

  2. Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just
    too wonderful. I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it.
    You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it smart.
    I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a wonderful website.

  3. Hello, i believe that i saw you visited my web site thus i came to go back the desire?.I am trying to find issues to enhance my website!I guess its ok to make use of some
    of your concepts!!

  4. Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would
    be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  5. Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring
    on other sites? I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss and would really like
    to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would enjoy your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

  6. excellent points altogether, you simply gained a new reader.
    What would you suggest in regards to your publish that you simply made some days ago?

    Any sure?

  7. Hello! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now and
    finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from
    Lubbock Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

  8. Hey there! I simply would like to give you a big thumbs up for your
    excellent information you have here on this post. I will be
    coming back to your blog for more soon.

  9. My family every time say that I am wasting my time here
    at net, except I know I am getting know-how all the time by reading thes good articles or reviews.

  10. Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend
    your site, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea

  11. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.
    It will always be exciting to read through articles from other writers and practice a little
    something from other websites.

  12. I do consider all the ideas you have introduced to your post.
    They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless,
    the posts are too brief for newbies. May you please lengthen them a bit from next
    time? Thank you for the post.

  13. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Ie.

    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do
    with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you get the
    problem solved soon. Many thanks

  14. Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?

    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Many thanks plenty of fish natalielise

  15. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed
    reading it, you may be a great author.I will be sure to
    bookmark your blog and definitely will come back later on. I
    want to encourage you continue your great work, have a nice day!

  16. I’m not sure why but this weblog is loading extremely slow for me.

    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end?
    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  17. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little homework
    on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast simply because I found it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this topic here on your
    blog.

  18. Great article! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web.

    Disgrace on the search engines for now not positioning this submit upper!

    Come on over and seek advice from my web site . Thank you =)

  19. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but
    after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  20. Hello, I do believe your web site might be having internet browser compatibility problems.

    Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it’s got
    some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a
    quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent site!

  21. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact
    was a amusement account it. Look advanced to
    far added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

  22. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you have hit
    the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    I’m very happy I stumbled across this in my search
    for something regarding this.

  23. I just could not go away your site before suggesting that I actually loved the standard info a person supply in your visitors?
    Is gonna be again often in order to check up on new posts

  24. Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.

    Is it very difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick.
    I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start.

    Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Many thanks

  25. great submit, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector don’t realize this.
    You should continue your writing. I am confident, you’ve a
    huge readers’ base already!

  26. Nice weblog here! Also your site so much up fast! What web host are
    you the use of? Can I am getting your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  27. I love what you guys are usually up too. This type of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the terrific works guys I’ve included you guys
    to my personal blogroll.

  28. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well
    as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you
    customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one
    these days.

  29. Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty
    fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you
    have any tips or suggestions? With thanks

  30. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time
    a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Appreciate it!

  31. Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you
    knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

  32. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  33. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found
    a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  34. Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring
    on other sites? I have a blog based on the same topics you
    discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers
    would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

  35. I’m really inspired along with your writing talents and also with the layout to your blog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it your self?
    Anyway keep up the nice high quality writing, it’s rare to look a nice weblog like this one these
    days..

  36. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto
    a friend who has been doing a little homework on this.
    And he in fact bought me dinner due to the fact that I found it
    for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your web page.

  37. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you
    will be a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will come back sometime soon. I want to encourage
    continue your great writing, have a nice morning!

  38. Greate post. Keep posting such kind of info on your blog.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hello there, You have done an excellent job. I’ll definitely digg
    it and in my opinion recommend to my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this web site.

  39. Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Thanks

  40. Can I simply just say what a comfort to find somebody that truly knows what they are talking about on the net. You actually understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular given that you surely have the gift.

    http:///www.manulescu.com – manumanu

  41. May I simply say what a relief to find someone that truly knows what they’re discussing online. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people ought to check this out and understand this side of the story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.

  42. Thanks for posting this info. Its really usefull but check the spelling because I noticed few errors.

    You can check my site also here:

    pescuit feeder

  43. Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared
    this website with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this
    to my followers! Great blog and superb design.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.