Hamish Schreurs has only one remaining opportunity to compete at the U23 Road Worlds, but injury has rendered his attendance uncertain, photo provided

Klein Konstantia’s Hamish Schreurs wore the New Zealand U23 Champion’s jersey to the podium in arguably the toughest one-day race on the U23 calendar at the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs race.  Hamish Schreurs finished third behind Filippo Ganna and Jenthe Biermans to equal the third place achieved by Tom Scully in the same race in 2012.

Heading into today’s race the form for Hamish Schreurs was good but uncertain.  After a busy period of racing in Hungary, Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 and the Tour de Berlin the U23 national champion had taken a well-earned breather and arrived at the cobbled classic with good legs, ready for a tough race.  “I had a few days easy after Berlin to relax, nothing worse than over doing it and I knew my form was good so a few days easy wasn’t going to hurt, but heading into the race I was unsure. If someone said I will get on he podium I would laugh at them,” Hamish told RoadCycling.

Paris-Roubaix is notorious for its cobblestones and for the U23 Espoirs race that was no exception.  Up ahead were 182.6km of pure pain with 21 cobbled sectors of racing.  When asked to describe the experience of riding over the famous Roubaix cobblestones, Hamish said simply this.  “You can’t describe them you have to ride them.  People say it’s like gravel…it’s nothing like gravel.  I had to more or less ride in the middle as quite a few sections were wet so safer to be there.  I just followed the person in front of me though!”

Racing got underway to grey skies but reasonably warm 19C conditions.  It didn’t take long for Hamish to get into a breakaway as within the first 5km a group of 15 riders shot up the road.  “I was in the break for 5km into the race and I was all about saving energy, eat, drink and wait, I felt good, I knew I felt good, I just had to wait,” Hamish said.  In the group with him were BMC Development’s Pavel Sivakov, Team Wiggins’ Michael Thompson, Edward Plackaert of Lotto Soudal U23, Filippo Ganna of Team Colpack, Justin Oien of Team Axeon-Hagens Berman and Carl Soballa of LKT Team amongst others.

Behind them the Rabobank Development Team took control of the peloton as the break built up a lead that went up to 3 minutes before the rain really began to kick in.  Thankfully though for the break by the time they’d reached the first sector of cobblestones the rain had largely subsided; but the break’s persistence on the front hadn’t and they continued to hold a good advantage as Team Wiggins took over the pursuit of the break.  With 114km to go the break had been brought back to 2.20mins, but there was still a long way to race.

The break worked well together though and managed to stretch their advantage as BMC Development took over pace setting in the main field.  Bit by bit the leaders were clawed back, but not substantially, with the break still enjoying a lead of 2 minutes ahead of the peloton with 70km to go.  Behind the break attacks began to go from the peloton as riders began to realise they might have made an error letting the break up the road.  Florian Master of Vendée U, Tyler Williams of Axeon and Victor Tournieroux of Chambery Cycling quickly gained 15 seconds on the peloton who by now were 1.45mins back on the break.

It seemed that BMC Development’s presence on the front was beginning to pay dividends as they succeeded in bridging the gap to 1.15mins as more attacks came and went.  With 51km to go the gap had dropped to 1 minutes.  Riders were beginning to suffer in the leading bunch too, with Dylan Kowalski of VC Rouen 76 being dropped by the break and quickly swept up by the pack.

The final 40km were a tantalisingly interesting pursuit between the break and the bunch as the gap hovered under a minute.  “With 40km to go I started to step [it up] and the break slowly crumbled but in this process 4 guys from peloton came over,” Hamish said.  At this point the legs were tired but the injection of pace brought about by the new members of the breakaway meant that the lead for the break could stretch out again to 45 seconds with 15km remaining.

The final kilometres were a battle between nine riders.  Hamish Schreurs of Klein Constantia, Edward Plackaert of Lotto Soudal U23, Justin Oien of Axeon-Hagens Berman, Peter Lenderink of Rabobank Development, Filippo Ganna and Oliviero Troia of Team Colpack, Jaap Jong of Chambéry CF, Jenthe Biermans of Team SEG Racing Academy and Piet Allegaert of EFC-Etixx.

The winning move came with 4km of racing remaining.  Filippo Ganna launched a stinging attack from the break, having been out front with Schreurs and the rest all day; and no one could respond.  The Italian piled on the power to race away to the win.  The mud-soaked rider crossed the line victorious as behind him the sprint was on for second place.  In the velodrome it was Biermans who took second spot, with Hamish Schreurs completing the podium ahead of Oliveiro Troia and Plackaert.

Having crossed the line exhausted, Hamish Schreurs managed to gather his thoughts and reflect on the significance of the third place.  “I am happy very happy, with getting 14th in Liege winning the bunch kick [there], now this shows I can ride all kinds of roads and races.  Almost topped Tom Scully’s result of 3rd but just couldn’t make it!”  Hamish joked.

From here Hamish will now turn his attention to his next big goal, a six-day race in Slovakia starting on the 7th June.

Brief results:

Pos. Rider Nation Team


Filippo Ganna ITA Team Colpack


Jenthe Biermans BEL SEG Racing Academy


Hamish Schreurs NZL Klein Constantia


Oliviero Troia ITA Team Colpack


Edward Planckaert BEL Lotto Soudal U23


Justin Oien USA Axeon Hagens Berman


Piet Allegaert BEL


Peter Lenderink NED Rabobank Development


Henrik Evensen NOR SEG Racing Academy


Ivan Garcia Cortina ESP Klein Constantia


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here