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Van Summeren the Paris Roubaix champion
Apr 11th, 11. In a game of cards, it is not always the Ace which wins the game. Today it was Gamin Cervelo's Johan Van Summeren who played the right cards at the right times.
Heading into Paris Roubaix, Garmin Cervelo had a team stacked full of potential with Thor Hushovd as the team leader.
Motivated by the rainbow rings, Hushovd was ready to prove once again why he is the 2011 World Champion.
In the end though, it was the Garmin Cervelo's domestique, 30 year old Johan Van Summeren, who deservedly took all the glory.
Van Summeren's first great move came when he followed an attack after the Arenberg Forrest. His chase group joined up with an earlier breakaway group to form a 21 strong front bunch.
The group worked well to maintain a 1min lead on the peloton, which included all the riders favoured to win the biggest of the classics.
As the favourites played their own race behind him, Van Summeren played his. In the break he conserved his energy, as he waited for his leader to catch his group up. It never happened.
Top favourite and defending champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) became frustrated with Hushovd and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) not doing enough to help him catch the breakaway riders and backed off the chase.
With 18km to go, and the time gap still hovering around 1min, Lars Bak (HTC Highroad) attacked from the front of the leading bunch. With him went Summeren, Gregory Rast (RadioShack) and Maaten Tjallingi (Rabobank).
"When Lars Bak attacked, my team manager Jonathan Vaughters was saying "Wait till the Carrefour de l'Arbre". I knew from training there on Thursday where I should go as fast as possible," Van Summeren said.
The Belgian hit his mark and went full throttle, quickly taking the front of the race alone.
Behind him, Cancellara got sick of the game he was playing with Hushovd and Ballan and eventually took off in a solo pursuit of another Paris Roubaix victory.
With only 3km left, it looked like a wasted effort, but Cancellara once again proved what a champion he is to pass by the remnants of the leading bunch and to enter the Roubaix velodrome in second place.
The Swiss rider did not know Summeren was riding a flat tyre for the final 5km!
19 sec ahead, 1.98m Summeren, took the biggest win of his career.
"Thor Hushovd was our team leader for this race because he's the world champion, he's fast at finishes and he's got results at this race before," said a thrilled Summeren.
"I was supposed to help him but I got in the breakaway and I immediately felt that I was the strongest in the breakaway.
"My only worry was the flat tyre I had with 5km to go. It wasn't totally flat so I kept riding on it. On the velodrome, it wasn't easy to take the curves but I was safe.
"I'll be the winner of Paris-Roubaix for ever," he said.
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