#insideOGE: Sam Bewley, Paris-RoubaixThu 7 May 2015
Welcome to the second edition of new series - #insideOGE.
Uniquely captured by the magnificent lens of ‘Kramon’, we open up the doors to ORICA-GreenEDGE to bring you the stories you don’t otherwise see or hear.
#insideOGE will be a regular feature during the upcoming Giro d’Italia, but today’s edition is the second of two teasers from the recent Classics season to give you a little taste of what is to come.
Missed the opening edition featuring Luke Durbridge at Gent Wevelgem? Never fear, you can catch up here.
Welcome back #insideOGE. We hope you enjoy.
‘The Hell of the North’
‘A Sunday in Hell’
‘Queen of the Classics’
A race doesn’t adopt these names by chance.
No, it earns them. And Paris-Roubaix has certainly done that.
The above photo of the Arenberg Forest, captured by Kramon, was taken in the calm of the days before the storm that was Paris-Roubaix.
To the outside world it almost depicts a tranquil mystic. The rest of us, few more than Sam Bewley, know better.
Whilst ORICA-GreenEDGE celebrated it’s best ever cobbled Classic result, a sixth place courtesy of Jens Keukeleire, Bewley was still confronting his ‘Sunday in Hell’. Over 34minutes later, the 27-year-old completed his two laps of the famous Roubaix velodrome, well outside the time limit.
His is a tale of sacrifice. But one with much reward.
To some degree making it to the Arenberg was a feat in itself for the New Zealander after his debut attempt 12months earlier had been cut cruelly short by an incident that left him with a broken hand amongst a plethora of other injuries.
“I made it to the Forest in a better position than I did last year, obviously, because I made it there last year in the back of an ambulance,” Bewley said.
“It was my first Roubaix, I was excited to be racing, excited to be doing the cobbles for the first time and excited for the Arenberg Forest. Then just before it, I had a flat tire and when I was coming back through the cars, a team car turned out of the line and took me out. It ended my first Roubaix experience pretty quickly.
“So when I made it there this year, that was the first of the dreams for Roubaix coming true – making it to the Arenberg Forest, and in the first bunch as well.”
Any opportunity to enjoy the moment ended as he was snapped back to reality at the sight of his team leader in trouble ahead. Instincts kicked in.
“Half way through the Arenberg, Jens Keukeleire, our team leader had a flat tire, so it was up to me to help him out as the first on the scene,” Bewley recalled.
“Your reaction is very instinctive actually.
“Straight away you pull over, you don’t have any second thoughts, you give him your wheel and you try to get him going as quickly as possible. Luckily for him it worked out really well and he had a great result.”
Bewley’s day from there?
“Horrible. It was pretty rough.”
The mission to get another wheel was a long one, as is often the case at Paris-Roubaix, with team cars so far behind the action due to previous crashes and mechanicals.
“I needed to get to the end of the forest to get a spare wheel so I put Jens’ wheel in,” Bewley said. “There was probably still 600 to 700metres to go in the section and I rode a flat front wheel across the toughest cobbles in the world.
“Made it hard. The wheel is probably not in very good condition either.”
From there it was a 90km battle as the last rider on the road, pushing to make it to the esteemed velodrome even as spectators began to call it a day.
“By the time I got a wheel there was no one else around me, I was alone,” Bewley remembered.
“I managed to come back to one other guy and luckily it was another New Zealander, Shane Archbold. But it was a long way to go, still three hours in the race, 20 sections of cobbles, fans walking off the cobbles and leaving to get to the finish or go home.
“I could have stopped quite easily in that race, I wasn’t achieving anything by continuing, I was a long way behind and with only one companion with 90km to go.
“But the second dream of Roubaix is to make it to the velodrome.”
And make it to the velodrome he did, although not quite like he imagined.
“I was getting excited as I approached the velodrome for the crowd, but there was no one left,” Bewley said with amusement.
“It was a pretty horrible experience those hours but then the couple of minutes when I made the velodrome I actually felt pretty proud and glad that I made it there.”
Outside the time limit and despite the empty stands, Bewley and Archbold completed their two laps to officially conclude the 253.5km trek.
Asked if he would do it all again, and there was no hesitation.
“Yeh for sure,” he said.
“I’d love to go back to that race, be part of a team with luck with no crashes, no mechanicals and see how far I could go myself with the race and try to stay with the leaders through the last part of Paris-Roubaix.
“It was a great experience this year but I rode the last 90km basically the last guy on the road so it would be awesome to do it in the front bunch or closer to the front so you could experience all the fans on the side of the road still cheering everyone on rather than walking back to their cars.”