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Gregory Rast at Roubaix: So close, yet so far away

ROUBAIX, France (VN) — Gregory Rast (RadioShack) had the best Paris-Roubaix of his career, just missing the podium with fourth place in the charge to the line in the famed velodrome on Sunday. Rast had his best Paris-Roubaix ever ... but wanted just a little more. | Graham Watson photo…

ROUBAIX, France (VN) — Gregory Rast (RadioShack) had the best Paris-Roubaix of his career, just missing the podium with fourth place in the charge to the line in the famed velodrome on Sunday.

2011 Paris-Roubaix
Rast had his best Paris-Roubaix ever ... but wanted just a little more. | Graham Watson photo

Rast got edged out for a podium spot, with Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) taking second and Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank) nipping him for third.

“I felt pretty good when I started the sprint,” Rast said on RadioShack’s web site. “I was trying to beat Tjallingi because I knew he was fast so I needed a jump on him. So I started my sprint, but then Fabian came to my wheel and rode across me. So it didn’t work perfectly but the last 150m I was finished, no legs anymore.”

Rast’s run was a highlight for RadioShack, who started the Hell of the North with a team loaded with rookies and outsiders. Sport director Dirk Demol was overheard saying that this was the most relaxed Roubaix ever for the team, because the team had no real pre-race favorites.

That underdog status meant that the RadioShack starters had a free hand to attack and make the most of any opportunity. Rast stepped up and delivered a powerful performance that ended just short of an important podium placing.

Rast made it through the Arenberg sector in good position and followed a move that included eventual winner Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervélo) that bridged out to the day’s main breakaway.

“This morning I had no idea I could finish this well at Paris-Roubaix. This is a good race. I prefer Flanders but now I’m happy that I’ve achieved my best result in a big classic here at Roubaix,” Rast said.

“When Van Summeren went I tried to follow; everyone did. I would have followed if I could. In the beginning I was on his wheel and he was following the moto. I was a little bit angry because the moto was in the way but when the moto went ahead he was very fast.”