ROUBAIX, France (VN) — As small groups of riders continued to finish and quickly head for the showers or the team buses, RadioShack’s Ben King stood in the Roubaix velodrome, just soaking it all in. The 22-year-old U.S. national champion finished the 109th Paris-Roubaix in 76th, in a group 13 minutes back with teammates Bjørn Selander and Fumiyuki Beppu.
“Honestly, I enjoyed myself today,” King said. “I’ve never done anything like it before. It was unbelievable.”
Never one to shy away from the front end of a race, King charged off the front of the 260km Hell of the North in the first few kilometers with two other riders. That move was quickly brought back, and King soon found himself tangled in a crash.
“I was chasing back on all day with all the crashes and everything,” King said. “I was in one of the very first crashes with Ted King (Liquigas). He and I were chasing back on the first cobble section. And that was kind of the story of my day. I got to see all the carnage, and get a real appreciation for the race.”
RadioShack’s Grégory Rast finished fourth.
“We brought a really young team here, and to come out of it with a result like that is really special to be a part of,” King said.
The cobbles and the expected crashes were impressive, King said, but the chaos and the unexpected bike handling were more so.
“It really is a fight like everyone says,” he said. “But it’s almost like people were crashing just because this is Paris-Roubaix. There were just crashes in the most random times. Someone flats or has a mechanical on the cobbles — those things are so bumpy — and then everyone just has to pile into it. Because no one wants to hit the brakes, you get all kinds of bunny hops and tail whips just to get around it. It was pretty cool.”