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The Slovenian baroudeur was at his bombastic best all day long in what was a fast and furious “Hell of the North.” Mohorič was racing at the front from the flag drop and animated a wave of attacks but failed to dazzle when it mattered most – the sprint for second place.
Mohorič missed the podium with his fifth-place finish but did more than enough to honor the void left by his missing Bahrain-Victorious teammate and previous Roubaix champion Sonny Colbrelli, whose career is on pause after his recent scare with heart arrhythmias.
“I was racing with Sonny in my mind all day. I’m sorry he’s not here with us but I hope he can come back in the future and then we will play our cards well,” Mohorič told reporters at the finish.
Mohorič hogged the share of the camera’s lense Sunday.
The Slovenian surged into the huge split at the start of the day before setting the final of Paris-Roubaix in train with an acceleration that forced the day’s first serious escape at 110km to go.
From there, it was the “Mohorič show” all the way to the velodrome as the swaggering Slovenian set light to the dry, dusty cobbles. Even a puncture and a swift chase back inside the final 40km didn’t dampen the heat as Mohorič hunted his second monument victory of the season.
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But when the race came down to a sprint for second, it looks like Mohorič may have made one attack too many.
Fourth from four behind Wout van Aert, Stefan Küng, and Tom Devriendt left him the race’s entertainer, and nothing more.
“I was really hoping for the podium in the end, but the race played a little bit outside my power. I was completely out of energy because I was working hard at the front all day long, trying to stay out there as long as possible. And I probably wasted more energy than the guys at the back,” he said. “But this is racing, and I think it was like a great show for the fans.”
For Mohorič, riding from the front wasn’t just another example of the peloton’s breakaway king plying his trade. A return to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race where Mohorič twice hit the top-10, looms on the near horizon.
“I think riding in the breakaway is a good way to get yourself there in the final, and you get out of the chaos, out of the crashes,” he said.
“It’s maybe a little bit less risky crashes in the front group. I still have some other important races to go this year, so I was also thinking a little bit about this. I know I can go hard for quite a long time and many of my victories come from long breakaways. I thought I had an honest chance of winning the race today until that puncture. But that’s bike racing.”
After a dropper-post extravaganza at Milan-San Remo last month and a red-hot ride into Roubaix’s velodrome Sunday, you can count on seeing some more of the “Moho-show” at Liège next weekend.