Andrea Tafi abandons Paris-Roubaix return, scuppers Cycling Plus Big Ride feature

The 52-year-old had been on an improbable lookout for a team, 20 years on from his victory at the race

13-04-2003: Paris-Roubaix:, Andrea Tafi, Team CSC. (Photo by Lars Ronbog/FrontzoneSport via Getty Images)

Photo: Getty

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Our next issue, published this Thursday but hopefully in the hands of subscribers now, sees freelance writer Trevor Ward hit the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix for our Big Ride feature.

It was a trip inspired by the improbable re-emergence at the race of 1999 winner Andrea Tafi. The 52-year-old Italian, long since retired, has been talking up a return to the race, and had been attempting – without any success, it seemed – to get a ride with a team for what will be the 20thanniversary of his victory.

So we sent our own 50-something Trevor to the cobbles on a cold December morning last year. It was his first rendezvous on the French pave but fortunately he had an old hand to guide him, in the diminutive shape of Bertrand Boulenger, a journalist and member of Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix, the action group who play a big part in the upkeep of the cobbles.

SUR LA ROUTE DE PARIS-ROUBAIX / 18 DƒCEMBRE 2018 / PHOTO BRUNO BADE / TROUƒE D'ARENBERG / (2400 METRES ) /
Photo: Bruno Bade

The Tafi hook that got Trevor out there quickly turned into an education for Trevor, both in how to ride on cobbles and about the work of Les Amis.

Which is fortunate for us, as three days before the mag hits shelves Tafi abandoned his Paris-Roubaix plans.

In a race near his Tuscany home, Tafi broke a collar bone. Speaking to Cyclingnews.com, he said that “perhaps I wasn’t destined to ride Paris-Roubaix one last time.”

It seemed unlikely so late in the day that he’d have got a ride anyway, but did reveal to Cyclingnews that he’d been given permission to ride ahead of the peloton. He’ll still be there, as a VIP guest of organisers ASO, but his dream of a riding return was over.

As for Trevor, you can read all about his cobbles debut in issue 352 this Thursday. The feature sits alongside our mega 50-page 2019 Bike of the Year test.

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