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Coryn Labecki on Paris-Roubaix: Now I know why they call it the ‘Hell of the North’

'Honestly, I had a lot of fun today, as much as it hurt. I’ll be back for revenge,' says American rider.

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ROUBAIX, France (VN) – At the age of 29, Coryn Labecki debuted at Paris-Roubaix with her new Jumbo-Visma team and found out why they call one of cycling’s monuments the ‘Hell of the North.’

Labecki was thrilled to start the cobbled classic, and a day before the race she stated that “it was going to be brutal.”

At sector 5, in Camphin-en-Pévèle, a third flat ended her race for glory and Jumbo-Visma team ended up having nobody in the first groups that sprinted for the top-10 spots at the velodrome in Roubaix.

Dutch rider Teuntje Beekhuis finished 14th, German rider Romy Kasper was 19th, and Labecki had to settle for a distant 24th place. When stepping off her bike at the velodrome she joined her teammates, exchanged hugs and shared race stories. A few minutes later Labecki talked with the awaiting media, pointing out that she wasn’t pleased about the outcome of the race.

“It was utter chaos all day long. There was flatting, and crashes. It was like the final three kilometers of a sprint stage the whole day. It’s my first one so now I understand why they call it the ‘Hell of the North’. It’s one hell of a race,” Labecki said.

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Despite the disappointing outcome of the race, Labecki was keen to come back and race Paris-Roubaix once again. “Oh yeah, for sure. Honestly, I had a lot of fun today, as much as it hurt. I’ll be back for revenge.”

Labecki lamented that not the legs nor the tactics but bad luck ruined her race. Obviously, the near 30km of pavé sectors took their toll and she stated she was hurt.

“I’m pretty numb right now. My hands are hurting and a little bit my back but more on the ego. It just sucks because it’s bad luck. I definitely showed my character. I kept fighting. It’s just a bummer that I kept dealing with bad luck,” Labecki said.

“I felt quite good. Positioning was good also. Equipment was good. Honestly it was just a lot of bad luck flatting today. I didn’t crash but I flatted three times, probably at the worst possible moments. So, there was a lot of bad luck on my side. Honestly, I don’t really know where it all happened. The first one, me and Romy flatted at the same time, I think at Mons-en-Pévèle. As soon as I got back I flatted again. The third time was just before Carrefour de l’Arbre [Camphin-en-Pévèle]. We came back to the first group after my second flat. I was just getting ready to play the game on the next sector. I was in the top-five, top-ten and flatted. At that point I had done so many efforts to get back that I just kept riding to get to the line.”

The late decision to pull last year’s runner-up Marianne Vos due to a positive COVID-19-test turned the team’s tactics upside down and took its toll on the mental front as well.

“It was a big bummer. It was a big goal for the team. We all just had to step up today. I was up for the challenge and I think I did quite well despite the bad luck. I was into a good position going into every sector right from the start. It’s just a lesson learned and maybe we can do something a little bit better about the flats.”

The spring season now comes to an end for Coryn Labecki. It hasn’t been a great campaign so far for the Dutch team. Marianne Vos was runner-up in Gent-Wevelgem and seventh in Strade Bianche. Labecki scored two top-10 places in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Amstel Gold Race.

“I have a little bit of a break now. This was my last race of the spring. Now I go home to recover and reset. I should be in the UK by the end of May,” Labecki said, referring to the RideLondon Classique.