FFOSYFFIN’s Josh Tarling showed his grit and determination to finish one of the toughest one-day cycle races in the world after suffering a crash and two punctures.
The 19-year-old former Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron pupil rode his first Paris-Roubaix race with six other Ineos Grenadier team-mates and despite the setbacks he made it to the finish at Roubaix velodrome and become the youngest man to race Paris-Roubaix since 1937.
He finished the brutal cobbled classic 6.28 minutes outside the time limit but that takes nothing away from his achievement as the young rider’s development continues at pace.
He said: “A crash and two punctures and I’m very tired right now.
“But it was super cool. It was nice to lead the first couple of sectors with the group.
“I crashed but then chased back to the front group, a few more sectors but then two punctures.
“The crowds were the biggest I’ve ever seen and it was 100 per cent worth it to get here.
“I’m tired but I can sleep tonight.”
Tarling’s team-mate Filippo Ganna put in a brave, battling performance as he fought to sixth in the fastest-ever edition of Paris-Roubaix, which was won by Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck).
Ganna spent close to 90 kilometres on the attack after bridging to an elite breakaway group which escaped the peloton with over 100km remaining.
The Grenadier was able to respond to numerous attacks as the sectors passed by and numbers dwindled in the lead group, with the decisive move eventually coming on the infamous cobbles of the five-star Carrefour de l’Arbre.
Van der Poel and Wout van Aert both launched attacks on this sector, with the latter suffering an ill-timed puncture which saw the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider go clear. The Italian was then part of a five-rider group who tried to catch Van der Poel, before finishing sixth in a chase group behind.
Earlier, the race had started with a near 100km battle for the break, with debutant Josh Tarling helping mark moves and try and join one breakaway attempt that was swiftly halted.
After the second sector, Tarling crashed and took Rowe down, but the pair regrouped and were able to work hard to re-join the bunch. The Grenadiers were well-represented though as Connor Swift, Magnus Sheffield and Kim Heiduk were on hand to position Ganna through several hectic sectors as the pace remained high.
The decisive split came ahead of sector 20 as Van Aert, Van der Poel and Christoph Laporte led an elite group away with 102 kilometres remaining.
The Grenadiers responded well ahead of Trouee d’Arenberg, with Ganna positioned at the front of a dwindling peloton, enabling him to bridge the gap in small group to form a breakaway of 13 which looked set to decide the race.
A number of attacks reigned in from the escapees as the sectors passed by, which both reduced the number of riders in the break until Van der Poel’s attack which saw him escape the group and win the race.