Dylan van Baarle: “I felt I was the strongest”

April 17 th 2022 - 18:32

I am still buzzing with my performance today. The feeling when I came to the Velodrome was just amazing – I can’t put it into words. I had never experienced what it was like to be the first guy here. I knew the feeling of being the last guy, though, as I was OOT last year. I got goosebumps when I saw Dave [Brailsford, Ineos Grenadiers’ Team Principal] on the finish line, cheering full gas, as if he was alone in the velodrome. Servais [Knaven, Ineos Grenadiers’ DS] told me on the radio to enjoy myself as much as possible – and so I did. We had been chasing a big win in the cobbled classics for ages, and had fallen short a few times before my victory today. The whole team has put a lot of effort into this, testing equipment and so on. This happened because of that.

For starters, we wanted to be focused on the start. There were some crosswinds and you could find yourself on the back, as happened to Wout van Aert and many other favourites. We knew beforehand that we had to see who was there after Arenberg to decide how to play our cards into the final. At that point Michal Kwiatkowski told me that I was super strong, that he would help me whatever it takes… and that’s what he did. Later on, all the favourites started attacking each other and Ben Turner told me he was completely empty. I asked him to take a gel and try to set me up for an attack. He did it perfectly and I broke away. It was quite painful to come back to the head of the race. But once I did it I could recover for a little bit, and I felt I was the strongest. I just had to go before the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector and hope for the best – and that’s what I did.

The World Championships last year were really important for me. Dutch national coach Koos Moerenhout gave me such confidence ahead and during the race. He told me I had to believe more in myself. I listened to his words – and see what happens. All of a sudden, I was up there in the Worlds and I made a click. I got a silver medal there, and I won today after building up for this the whole Winter.

You can’t follow anyone in Paris-Roubaix. You just have to focus on your own race, to be at the right moment at the right place. Cycling has changed a lot over the last couple of years. Guys attack earlier and earlier to make the race hard. And that’s my favourite way of racing: to get everyone on their knees before the crucial moments come. My best strength is long-range efforts.

I haven’t thought where to place the Paris-Roubaix winner trophy. For sure it will get a very nice place at home, next to my silver medal on the Worlds. Maybe I need to find a table that is strong enough to hold it…

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