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Paris-Roubaix: World champ Sagan adds a cobble to trophy case

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Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) attacked over 54 kilometers from the finish to win the 116th edition of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

Three-time world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took an emphatic victory at the 116th edition of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday in northern France.

The Slovakian attacked 54 kilometers from the finish and bridged alone to the day’s breakaway and drove the group to the finish. Swiss national road champion Silvan Dillier (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who was part of the day-long breakaway, was the only rider able to stay with Sagan as the kilometers ticked down. The duo came into the Roubaix Velodrome together and Sagan handily won the sprint. The victory is Sagan’s second “monument” after he won the Tour of Flanders in 2016.

“I feel amazing, I’m so tired, but I was involved in no crashes, had no flat tires and I just kept going,” said Sagan, who at one point was caught on camera using an Allen key to make some onboard repairs as he road along at 45kph.

2014 Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) finished alone in third. The Dutchman, who won the Tour of Flanders a week ago, jumped away from a select chase group in the final kilometers to take the podium spot. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) beat Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac) into fourth place.

American Taylor Phinney (EF Education First-Drapac) had a stellar ride in support of Vanmarcke and finished eighth.

Top 10

  • 1. Peter Sagan, BORA – HANSGROHE, in 05:54:06
  • 2. Silvan Dillier, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 0:00
  • 3. Niki Terpstra, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 0:57
  • 4. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:34
  • 5. Jasper Stuyven, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 1:34
  • 6. Sep Vanmarcke, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST-DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 1:34
  • 7. Nils Politt, TEAM KATUSHA – ALPECIN, at 2:31
  • 8. Taylor Phinney, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST-DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 2:31
  • 9. Zdenek Stybar, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 2:31
  • 10. Jens Debusschere, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 2:31

The 116th edition of the “Hell of the North,” Paris-Roubaix, began in Compiegne, which it has done so for roughly the last 40 years on Sunday. The 175-rider peloton faced 257 kilometers and 29 sectors of cobblestones between Compiegne and the finish in the famed Roubaix Velodrome. The cobblestone sectors accounted for 54.5 kilometers of the route and the first sector came 93.5 kilometers into the race.

Race organizer ASO numbered each “pavè” sector with the sectors counting down along the route. Each sector was given a difficulty rating from one to five stars with only three sectors earning a five-star rating in 2018 — Trouée d’Arenberg (sector #19), Mons-en-Pevele (#11), and Carrefour de l’Arbre (#4).

The start was nervous due to a brief rainstorm moving through the region overnight. Riders prayed the sectors would be dry by the time they reached them, but it looked most likely that a few sectors would be damp and muddy. Damp cobblestones meant the risk of crashes and chaos rose exponentially.

It took nearly an hour, but finally, a group of nine riders was able to slip up the road. Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates), Dillier, Marc Soler (Movistar), Ludovic Robeet and Jimmy Duquennoy (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Geoffrey Soupe (Cofidis), Gatis Smukulis (Delko Marseille Provence KTM), and Jay Thomson (Dimension Data) formed the lead group.

Approaching the first cobblestone sector at Troisvilles, the nervousness in the peloton was evident. Van Avermaet lost a key domestique in Stefan Küng (BMC Racing) a few kilometers before the sector, as Küng went down in a crash and abandoned the race.

After 93.5 kilometers of racing, the riders finally hit the famed cobblestones of northern France. The breakaway began the cobblestones at Troisvilles (#29) with about a seven-minute advantage over the peloton. A thin layer of mud covered the cobblestones on this sector, but the nine leaders went through the sector cleanly.

When the bunch came rumbling over the first cobblestones chaos ensued. A large crash about a third of the way down the peloton sent about a dozen riders tumbling to the ground and held-up any riders that were behind them. Geraint Thomas (Sky) went down and abandoned the race.

The peloton was down to around 40 riders when the riders emerged from the sector. Notably, top favorites Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale) were caught behind the pile-up. Both riders, after a considerable chase, rejoined the front group just before the Quiévy (#26) pavè with 145 kilometers to go.

Michael Goolaerts (Vérandas Willems-Crelan) crashed heavily on sector #27. Reports came through that he suffered a cardiac arrest and was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition.

Coming off the cobblestones at Quiévy (#26), Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Naesen both stopped for wheel changes and Gianni Moscon (Sky) crashed on a corner going through town. Moscon was quick to remount, but the pace was on with Quick-Step Floors powering on the front. The Italian was forced to chase. Moscon would then stop again to change his bike.

Sectors 25 through 21 passed without much incident and then the four-star sector at Haveluy (#20) was upon the riders. Haveluy was a tough hors d’oeurve to the Trouée d’Arenberg (#19) that came after. A crash occurred midway down the peloton, which was greatly reduced by this point in the race. Naesen appeared to be the only top contender to be held up, but he was able to get around the crash quickly and did not go down.

The nine leaders entered the famed forest of Arenberg with 95 kilometers to go to an enormous roar from the crowd. The breakaway’s advantage had been reduced to only two and a half minutes. Though the breakaway would split into multiple groups during the 2.4-kilometer section of cobbles, they would come back together once on the pavement.

Sagan entered the forest sitting in third position with his teammate Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe) setting the pace. No more than 50 riders were part of the peloton at this point in the race.

Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) and Mike Teunissen (Sunweb) emerged from the Arenberg forest with a slight gap on the other riders and the duo kept pushing forward once back on the pavement. Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) bridged to the duo after sector #18 at Hélesmes/Pont Gibus.

Overall, the Arenberg sector was relatively calm for how rough the cobbles were. The battle for position in the forest may have been less fierce due to the very small peloton.

Gilbert and Co. were brought back with 75 kilometers remaining and Stybar immediately counterattacked. Only five riders — Bystrøm, Dillier, Soler, Robeet, and Wallays — remained of the original breakaway. The leaders were noticeably tiring while Stybar was powering along. The Czech national road champion picked up Soler, as he powered over the rough four-star cobbles of Sars-et-Rosières (#15). The chasing duo rode off the cobbles 40 seconds behind the five leaders.

After sector #14, just three riders remained out front with Walleys, Dillier, and Bystrøm forming the lead group. Behind, Soler’s legs finally gave out and Stybar was alone again chasing the leaders. Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) attacked out the peloton, but his move was quickly marked and shut down.

With 60 kilometers to go, the peloton powered onto the cobbles at Orchies (#13) under the guidance of Burghardt. Stybar had been brought back into the fold, meaning just three riders stood in front of the heavy favorites.

On the pavement between sectors 13 and 12, attacks flew left and right. Van Avermaet put in multiple attacks, but then the world champion made his move. Sagan counterattacked one of Van Avermaet’s moves and, surprisingly, no one followed him. He bridged to leaders on sector #12 and charged toward the second five-star sector of the day at Mons-en-Pévèle (#11).

Behind Sagan, former winners Matthew Hayman (Mitchelton-Scott) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) were being detached off the back of the peloton. The duo would rejoin once back onto the pavement.

Mons-en-Pévèle (#11) is a brutal five-start sector of cobbles. It is three kilometers of pain. Sagan drove the breakaway onto the cobbles, as chaos ensued in the group of favorites behind. Before the favorites hit the cobbles, a touch of wheels sent three riders tumbling to the ground. Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), and Luke Rowe (Sky) all crashed hard. Kristoff sat up clutching his left shoulder.

Off of the Mons-en-Pévèle, Bystrøm had been dropped from the lead group and a select chase had formed behind. The chase contained Stuyven, Wout van Aert (Vérandas Willems-Crelan), Phinney, Vanmarcke, Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal), Van Avermaet, and Terpstra. Gilbert originally made the split, but was then dropped from the group.

The sectors ticked down and Sagan continued to drive the leaders. The leaders held an advantage of a minute and a half when 20-kilometer marker came and went. Walleys had been dropped from the lead by this point, which meant Sagan only had Dillier for company. Meanwhile, Phinney was doing the bulk of the work on the front of the eight-rider chase group in support of Vanmarcke

Phinney would drop off the group on cobbles at Camphin-en-Pévèle (#5), as van Aert also lost contact due to a puncture. The riders powered over the four-star sector and charged toward the final five-star sector of the day, the Carrefour de L’Arbre (#4).

After the Carrefour de L’Arbre (#4), only four riders remained in the chase group. Terpstra led the group with Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke, and Stuyven following. The quartet trailed the leading duo by a mere minute.

With 10 kilometers and just two cobbled sectors remaining, the chasing quartet was just 45 seconds behind Sagan and Dillier. However, that would be as close as the chasers would get to the leaders.

Sagan forced Dillier to lead into the Roubaix Velodrome and calmly sat behind him, waiting for the perfect moment to launch his sprint. He used the banking to his advantage to get the jump on Dillier and the Swiss rider did not have the legs to come around the world champion.

Terpstra was the next to come into the Velodrome and did so alone, though nearly a minute behind Sagan. The Tour of Flanders champion was able to drop his other chasing companions to secure the final podium place. Van Avermaet won the sprint for fourth.

Paris-Roubaix is the conclusion of the 2018 cobble classics season. Quick-Step Floors was a force to be reckoned with this sprint, but Sagan was able to capture two cobble races in Gent-Wevelgem and Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix.

Full results

  • 1. Peter Sagan, (SVK) BORA – HANSGROHE, in 5:54:06
  • 2. Silvan Dillier, (SUI) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :00
  • 3. Niki Terpstra, (NED) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :57
  • 4. Greg Van Avermaet, (BEL) BMC RACING TEAM, at 01:34
  • 5. Jasper Stuyven, (BEL) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 01:34
  • 6. Sep Vanmarcke, (BEL) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 01:34
  • 7. Nils Politt, (GER) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 02:31
  • 8. Taylor Phinney, (USA) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 02:31
  • 9. Zdenek _tybar, (CZE) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 02:31
  • 10. Jens Debusschere, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 02:31
  • 11. Mike Teunissen, (NED) TEAM SUNWEB, at 02:31
  • 12. Oliver Naesen, (BEL) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 02:31
  • 13. Wout Van Aert, (BEL) VERANDA’S WILLEMS – CRELAN, at 02:31
  • 14. Jelle Wallays, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 02:37
  • 15. Philippe Gilbert, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 03:07
  • 16. Amund Grøndahl Jansen, (NOR) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 03:07
  • 17. John Degenkolb, (GER) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 03:07
  • 18. Marco Marcato, (ITA) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 03:07
  • 19. Dylan Van Baarle, (NED) TEAM SKY, at 03:07
  • 20. Heinrich Haussler, (AUS) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 03:07
  • 21. Bert De Backer, (BEL) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB, at 03:48
  • 22. Mathew Hayman, (AUS) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 03:48
  • 23. Jean-Pierre Drucker, (LUX) BMC RACING TEAM, at 03:48
  • 24. Edward Theuns, (BEL) TEAM SUNWEB, at 04:23
  • 25. Marcus Burghardt, (GER) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 04:23
  • 26. Marc Sarreau, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 04:23
  • 27. Sven Erik BystrØm, (NOR) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 04:23
  • 28. Yves Lampaert, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 04:23
  • 29. Nikolas Maes, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 04:23
  • 30. Imanol Erviti, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM, at 04:23
  • 31. Koen De Kort, (NED) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 04:23
  • 32. Stijn Vandenbergh, (BEL) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 07:10
  • 33. Truls KorsÆth, (NOR) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 07:10
  • 34. Edvald Boasson Hagen, (NOR) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 07:10
  • 35. Matti Breschel, (DEN) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 07:40
  • 36. Maarten Wynants, (BEL) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 07:40
  • 37. Frederik Frison, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 07:40
  • 38. Lars Bak Ytting, (DEN) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 07:40
  • 39. Marcel Sieberg, (GER) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 07:45
  • 40. Daniel Oss, (ITA) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 07:50
  • 41. Gianni Moscon, (ITA) TEAM SKY, at 07:50
  • 42. Tanguy Turgis, (FRA) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB, at 12:15
  • 43. Jimmy Turgis, (FRA) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 12:15
  • 44. Dylan Groenewegen, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 12:54
  • 45. Rick Zabel, (GER) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 12:54
  • 46. Adrien Petit, (FRA) DIRECT ENERGIE, at 12:54
  • 47. Jenthe Biermans, (BEL) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 12:54
  • 48. Boy Van Poppel, (NED) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 12:54
  • 49. Owain Doull, (GBR) TEAM SKY, at 12:54
  • 50. Iljo Keisse, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 12:54
  • 51. Michael SchÄr, (SUI) BMC RACING TEAM, at 12:54
  • 52. Maximilian Richard Walscheid, (GER) TEAM SUNWEB, at 12:54
  • 53. Julien Morice, (FRA) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB, at 12:54
  • 54. Jay Robert Thomson, (RSA) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 12:54
  • 55. Tony Gallopin, (FRA) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 12:54
  • 56. Jimmy Duquennoy, (BEL) WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 12:54
  • 57. Alexander Kristoff, (NOR) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 12:54
  • 58. Juraj Sagan, (SVK) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 12:54
  • 59. Luke Durbridge, (AUS) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 12:54
  • 60. Gregory Rast, (SUI) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 12:54
  • 61. Arnaud Demare, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 12:54
  • 62. Ramon Sinkeldam, (NED) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 12:54
  • 63. Mitchell Docker, (AUS) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 12:54
  • 64. Tom Scully, (NZL) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 12:54
  • 65. Jacopo Guarnieri, (ITA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 12:54
  • 66. Ignatas Konovalovas, (LTU) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 12:54
  • 67. Jens Keukeleire, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 12:54
  • 68. Christophe Laporte, (FRA) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 12:54
  • 69. Roger Kluge, (GER) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 12:54
  • 70. Bert Van Lerberghe, (BEL) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 12:54
  • 71. Mads Pedersen, (DEN) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 12:54
  • 72. Tony Martin, (GER) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 13:01
  • 73. Ludovic Robeet, (BEL) WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 13:11
  • 74. Geoffrey Soupe, (FRA) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 14:46
  • 75. Gatis Smukulis, (LAT) DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 14:46
  • 76. Bram Tankink, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 14:48
  • 77. Brice Feillu, (FRA) TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC, at 14:49
  • 78. Phil Bauhaus, (GER) TEAM SUNWEB, at 14:56
  • 79. Hugo Hofstetter, (FRA) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 14:56
  • 80. Sylvain Chavanel, (FRA) DIRECT ENERGIE, at 15:00
  • 81. Pascal Eenkhoorn, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 15:00
  • 82. Jos Van Emden, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 15:00
  • 83. Jonas Van Genechten, (BEL) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB, at 15:02
  • 84. Hugo Houle, (CAN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 15:02
  • 85. Dmitriy Gruzdev, (KAZ) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 15:02
  • 86. Kenneth Vanbilsen, (BEL) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 15:02
  • 87. Christian Knees, (GER) TEAM SKY, at 15:04
  • 88. Cyril Lemoine, (FRA) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 15:04
  • 89. Pierre Luc Perichon, (FRA) TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC, at 17:41
  • 90. Marco Haller, (AUT) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 17:41
  • 91. Nuno Matos, (POR) MOVISTAR TEAM, at 17:41
  • 92. Julien Stassen, (BEL) WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 17:47
  • 93. Kenny Dehaes, (BEL) WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 17:47
  • 94. Dries De Bondt, (BEL) VERANDA’S WILLEMS – CRELAN, at 20:12
  • 95. Johann Van Zyl, (RSA) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 20:47
  • 96. Nico Denz, (GER) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 23:01
  • 97. Jack Bauer, (NZL) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 23:01
  • 98. Julien Trarieux, (FRA) DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 23:01
  • 99. Iuri Filosi, (ITA) DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 23:01
  • 100. Luka Pibernik, (SLO) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 23:01
  • 101. Simone Consonni, (ITA) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 26:54

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