Going into Paris Arras, the third and final race of the team’s first European campaign, the guys were ready to take on the world. The stage win at Fleche du Sud and the win at Puivelde had proven that they could win against their euro counterparts.
Stage one of Paris Arras is a 179-kilometer dash from Margny-lès-Compiègne to the city of Arras in the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. Just 25km into the stage, Joey Rosskopf and 17 other riders formed a breakway off the front. Most of the big teams were represented in the move, so the peloton was content to let them get away. The tough rolling terrain of the course and battles for the KOM and Sprint points caused the break to slowly shed riders along the way.
Being only a two-day stage race it was important to gain time on your opponents. At 30 kilometers from the finish the attacks in the breakaway began. The strong survivors of the breakaway were unwilling to let another ride gain a single second. Once they hit the five-kilometer mark, Joey had had enough. He put his head down and turned the afterburners on, rocketing away from the break. In a span of five kilometers Joey put 19 seconds on the next guy behind him and rolled across the finish line with no one else in sight. Joey’s efforts earned him the win and the yellow jersey.
The team has worked several times this season to protect Joey’s General Classification position in a stage race. However, each time another team has always been in the lead, so the responsibility of controlling the race has always been left to the leader’s team. This time it was the Hincapie Devo Team who had the burden of controlling the race. They had to take charge and protect Joey’s yellow jersey.
50 kilometers into Stage Two, a breakaway had built up a one minute, fourty second gap on the field. The guys sensed the danger and the entire team went to the front of the peloton and spent the next 130 kilometers slowly reeling in the escaped riders. The entire time rain and wind pummeled the team, but they were not fazed by the elements. As they neared town the breakaway was captured and the sprinters’ teams began taking their turns on the front. The team had done an amazing job of protecting Joey’s lead and he safely rolled across the finish line with the yellow jersey intact. The team had won their first stage race plus won the Team Competition for the third stage race in a row!
This first European campaign had exceeded all expectations for the riders and staff. At Fleche du Sud they were award a Most Competitive Rider Jersey, won a stage, got third overall and won the Team General Classification. At Puivelde they astonished the Belgians with the win. At Paris Arras they won a stage, the overall classification and another Team Award. It has been an amazing trip and the team is now ready to return to the US where they can use their racing winning form against their countrymen at the US National Championships in Chattanooga.