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Paris-Roubaix: Yves Lampaert says judo move saved him from serious injury

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl star defends his racing tactic, and says it's up to fans to watch out for riders, not the other way around.

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Yves Lampaert says his judo background saved him from serious injury when he crashed after clipping a fan late in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix.

The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl star was in pole position for a podium spot in the “Hell of the North” with about 8km to go when an over-zealous fan caught Lampaert’s handlebar.

Lampaert was thrown forward onto his top tube, tried to correct his line from the sudden jolt, but was catapulted over his handlebars in one of the most dramatic moments of Sunday’s fastest-ever edition of Paris-Roubaix.

Speaking on Belgian television, Lampaert said his background in judo and martial arts saved him from serious injury.

“Unconsciously I applied a judo technique,” he said on Extra Time Koers. “I’m a bit stiff, but nothing was broken. I have some bumps and bruises.”

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As a former student of judo, Lampaert said martial arts training teaches students how to break a fall. He said when he was thrown off his bike, the instincts kicked in, and he was able to roll his fall over his back rather than going more directly into hard cobblestones.

“You fall very quickly and I didn’t think about it at the time, but I do believe that the instinct and training from judo is still in me,” Lampaert said. “I pulled my hand away and made a rolling movement. I unconsciously applied the technique from judo. Otherwise I might have broken my collarbone.”

Lampaert defends riding style at Paris-Roubaix

Some have criticized Lampaert for riding too close to the fans. In fact, when he clipped the cheering fan, Lampaert was not directly on the cobblestone sector, but riding alongside on a narrow strip.

Riders often dip and duck on and off the cobblestone sectors, sometimes riding alongside the harshest of the pavé. Organizers have put up fencing alongside some sectors, such as the famous Arenberg trench, both to keep back fans and to force riders to race over the cobbles rather than to try to race parallel alongside them.

Lampaert said he was simply going with the flow of the race, and said it’s up to the fans to watch out for the riders, not vice versa.

“Everyone else raced on the asphalt strip next to the cobblestones, so why should I go over the cobblestones?” Lampaert said.

“Otherwise we end up in an upside-down world, and we have to pay attention to the spectators instead of the other way around.”

Lampaert breaks down the action with teammate Florian Sénéchal as his wife and child look on. (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)