American Lawson Craddock took third in the juniors race at Paris-Roubaix, behind winner Jasper Stuyven of Belgium and Britain’s Daniel McLay, and the U.S. squad managed to put four riders in the top 20 overall.
“This is a super result for the team,” said Benjamin Sharp, junior endurance manager at USA Cycling. “Four in the top 20 is exceptional and were it not for some bad luck, I’m confident we would have had two in the top 10, if not better.”
The first round of the Nations Cup started with a big lap of 35km before joining the professional parcours with 16 cobbled sectors remaining.
An unidentified British rider broke away early on, prompting a counterattack of 10 that included Americans Craddock and Ryan Eastman plus Stuyven, the junior world road champion. Immediately after they were brought back with about 45km to go, Russian Kiril Yatsevich attacked and bridged solo to the British rider, whose gap was up to almost two minutes.
When Yatsevich dropped the Brit with 25km to go, eight riders launched a pursuit from the peloton, among them Craddock, Stuyven and McLay. They caught Yatsevich after he crashed in sector four of the pavé, but the game Russian wasn’t finished yet. He launched several attacks in the final kilometers only to see the race come down to a four-up sprint on the velodrome.
In the end, Stuyven won by half a bike length, with Craddock losing a bike throw to McLay for second. The plucky Yatsevich had to settle for fourth.
The other Americans cracking the top 20 were Eastman and Peter Taylor, 13th and 17th at 1:05; and Juan Carmona, 20th at 1:12.