Nils Politt’s Roubaix breakthrough
After coming fifth in Flanders last week and a seventh place in Roubaix last year, Nils Politt (25 years old) is not a surprise anymore. But to ride away from Peter Sagan, Sep Vanmarcke and Yves Lampaert and finish second in Roubaix? That’s a real breakthrough. Before he did the press conference, The Young Peloton got to ask him loads of questions about his Roubaix, about taking the next step and about the arising German talents Jonas Rutsch and Niklas Märkl.
Unbelievable, 25 years old and you're already second in Roubaix. You made an attack on a cobbled section at the end and Sagan couldn’t get across. How did that feel?
“They had already gone full gas on Carrefour de l’Arbre. Afterwards, on that cobbled section, I wanted to try something. I didn't want to go to the finish line with six riders, especially Sagan. And having two Deceuninck – Quick Step guys there, I knew they would attack in the final kilometres. So I just went for it and directly had a gap. Only Gilbert came back, so I knew I was at least getting podium.”
Already last year you came seventh in Roubaix and won the group sprint. Did it play a role for your sprint that Lampaert, another Deceuninck - Quick Step rider, was coming behind?
“For sure, Lampaert was coming and the gap was only 25 seconds. Gilbert gambled a little bit and took advantage of the situation. Then in the sprint, I wanted to start from the front. He was already next to me when I started. Philippe was just one second faster, but he was super super strong today.”
Do you think he was stronger than you? Or did his team make a big difference?
“I think we were the same. If you have your teammates still there and you can play with two cards, that’s better.”
Maybe this successful agressive riding started in the Tour of Germany last year. You finished second in the GC and won the last stage.
“Yeah, for sure. I had good legs in the Tour of Germany, my shape was still good from riding the Tour de France. After riding that Tour, I felt I had taken a step up again. Then this winter, I trained very hard again. And now that pays off, to finish second in Roubaix now is unbelievable.”
Team Katusha – Alpecin is not always where they want to be. This seems a very important day for the team.
“For sure, also for the sponsors. We did a really good classics season and finished top ten almost everywhere. That showed we’re not bad and we still have good riders. Now we have to continue with what we’re doing.”
How was it to ride into the Vélodrome for the victory?
“It’s supernice, to fight for victory in Roubaix...”
Were you nervous?
“Not nervous, but very focused.”
It’s not out of the blue that you’re taking this second place. You came fifth in the Tour of Flanders, what did you expect coming into this race?
“I was hoping for another top ten finish. I felt on training yesterday that my legs were good. It’s supernice that I can take a small stone with me today.” [his trophy – Ed.]
Who is the first person you’re going to call?
“My wife is here and she is the most important person for me. But once I’m on the bus, I’ll certainly call my parents.”
Is there someone who really believed in you and you want to thank?
“For sure. My trainer Robert Pawlowsky. for getting me in shape. He has been my trainer for almost ten years now.”
Are there German junior or U23 riders that you sometimes talk to? I talked to Jonas Rutsch and Nikias Märkl yesterday, for example. Do you know them?
“Of course. I trained with Märkl in Mallorca and I also know Rutsch. I believe both of them have the qualities to become pro riders.”
What advice would you give them?
“Keep going. You have to work hard, but both of them know that. With his win in Ghent-Wevelgem and his fifth place in Flanders yesterday, Jonas did very well. That's a sign that other German guys are coming.”