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Van Petegem wins Paris-Roubaix

Peter Van Petegem proved that his fortitude is harder than the cobbles of northern France in a dramatic victory in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) had better luck than most in a day dominated with crashes and punctures and becomes the first rider to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year since Roger de Vlaeminck in 1977. Dario Pieri (Saeco) earned a well-deserved second-place while Viatcheslav Ekimov scored the second consecutive third-place podium finish for the U.S. Postal Service team in cycling’s "Hell of the North."

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By Andrew Hood

Photo: AFP

Peter Van Petegem proved that his fortitude is harder than the cobbles of northern France in a dramatic victory in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) had better luck than most in a day dominated with crashes and punctures and becomes the first rider to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year since Roger de Vlaeminck in 1977.

Dario Pieri (Saeco) earned a well-deserved second-place while Viatcheslav Ekimov scored the second consecutive third-place podium finish for the U.S. Postal Service team in cycling’s “Hell of the North.”

Van Petegem made a bold move when he bridged up to Pieri and Ekimov with 15km to go and won the three-up sprint in Roubaix’s velodrome in front of thousands of cheering fans.

“I knew at the Carrefour de l’Arbe cobbled section, I had to go for it,” Van Petegem said, who won in 6 hours, 11 minutes, 35 seconds. “I had kept Pieri and Ekimov close, about 35 seconds, so I knew I could count on closing down the gap in about two kilometers.”

Like Van Petegem, Ekimov put down a spectacular counter-attack with 23km to go to bridge out to Pieri and Telekom’s Rolf Aldag, who were dangling 32 seconds ahead of a group of eight leading riders. Ekimov went after the Bourghelles cobbles and worked against brisk cross-winds to catch Pieri and Aldag just before Pevele cobbles at 19km to go.

“I was the strongest over the cobbles in the final 30 kilometers,” Ekimov said. “I had a very good feeling about myself and I knew against such a large group, my only chance to win would be to attack and force a selection.”

Eki' makes the bridge

Eki’ makes the bridge

Photo: Graham Watson

Paris-Roubaix turned into a high-speed drag race as riders flew over the cobbles with brisk tail- and cross-winds to push them along. Riders pushed through billowing clouds of dust during the 49km of dried cobbled roads.

Just 15km into the race, American Tony Cruz (U.S. Postal Service) was among 14 riders who broke away. Joining Cruz were Davide Bramati (Quick Step), Aldag (Telekom), Rubens Bertogliati and Alberto Loddo (Lampre), Julien Laidoun (Ag2r), Damien Nazon (Brioches La Boulangere), Corey Sweet and Cedric Herve (Credit Agricole), Vicente Garcia Acosta (, Ludovic Capelle (Landbouwkrediet), Eddy Soigneur (Jean Delatour) and Malte Urban (Coast).

That early break

That early break

Photo: Graham Watson

The break hit the first of 26 cobbled sections at Troisville with a 3:30 lead on the main group. Things were going well for Cruz until he flatted once and crashed twice. He later abandoned.

“I saw the break going and I said, ‘This is the move.’ Things were going great,” said Cruz, making his third Paris-Roubaix start. “I flatted on the pave and I had a wheel change from the Mavic support, but I think the tires were different and I slipped out on a corner.”

The carnage continued in the ensuing cobbled sections and no less than 22 riders were treated for cuts, abrasions and other injuries suffered in falls. Of the 190 starters in Compiegne, only 63 arrived in the velodrome in Roubaix some six hours and 261 kilometers later.

Pre-race favorites Frank Vandenbroucke and Tom Boonen crashed before the day’s first feed, with Vandenbroucke abandoning and Boonen aggravating injuries caused in his finish-line crash at Gent-Wevelgem on Wednsday.

At the cobbles at Monchaux sur Ecaillon with 121km to go, CSC’s Andrea Tafi suffered the first of his four flats and 10 riders remained in the lead group. Five riders counter-attacked, including Serguei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo), Nicolas Jalabert (CSC), Mark Wauters (Rabobank), Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo) and Tom Steels (Landouwkediet).

Wheels, wheels, wheels and finally a bike change for Tafi

Wheels, wheels, wheels and finally a bike change for Tafi

Photo: Graham Watson

Tafi fought back on coming into the Haspres cobbles with 115km to go and immediately went on an acceleration to string out the lead group. Jalabert flatted out of the second group while Quick Step rode at the front of the main bunch.

From there, things went sour for Quick Step. Tafi drove the peloton through the Haveluy cobbles with 102km to go and hit the famed cobbles at Foret d’Arenberg at full-speed. The second chase group was brought back and the lead group was strung out. While Museeuw would stay close, he would eventually lose contact with Tafi and Van Petegem coming through the next 40km.

“I had some bad luck, but it’s not to be expected that you can have a perfect race year after year at Paris-Roubaix,” said Museeuw, who later finished 33rd at 4:33 back. “When the gap was still at 30 to 40 seconds, I was confident it was going to come back. But I am not the same Museeuw that won last year. I suffered a fall at Varegem and was sick before Flanders.”

With just under 60km to go, Tafi, Van Petegem, Servais Knaven (Quick Step) and Romans Vainsteins (Sidermec) chugged off the front the lead peloton. Riders were sliding up and back as riders came off the peloton and the front break dissolved.

With 40km to go, 13 riders controlled the race at the front, including Tafi, Van Petegem, Aldag, Danielle Nardello and Kai Hundertmarck (Telekom), Pieri, Ivanov, Marc Wauters (Rabobank), Vainsteins, Nazon, Ekimov and Max Van Heeswijk (USPS). By now, the Museeuw group was more than 1 minute in arrears.

Pieri and Aldag went slightly off the front with 35km to go and things were looking up for Postal until Van Heeswijk punctured then crashed on the cobbles at Moulin de Vertain with 31km to go.

“My front tire went flat and I had to step out of my pedal to stabilize my position and another rider (Ivanov) ran into me,” said Van Heeswijk, who finished 23rd at 2:28 back and later had a bandage on his right elbow as a souvenir. “I had great legs today, but I went to the war today and lost.”

Ekimov proved his class with one of the day’s most memorable moves. The 2000 Olympic time trial champion put his head down and fought through fierce cross-winds to bridge out to Pieri and Aldag. The German was struggling to hang on as Ekimov and Pieri continued to drive hard. Van Petegem sensed his time was running out, and when he jumped, Tafi was right on the Belgian’s wheel before flatting twice within 200 meters.

“I was very aggressive today and I had great legs, but I did not have great luck,” said the 1999 Paris-Roubaix champion who won a five-up sprint to take fifth. “I went at the maximum effort today, but when you have four flat tires and one crash, you will not win Paris-Roubaix.”

Van Petegem quickly bridged to Pieri and Ekimov and the trio drove it home to Roubaix’s famed velodrome. Ekimov tried to shake his rivals with 3km to go, but the three came in for 1.5 laps on the outdoor velodrome. Ekimov was in the enviable third position high on the wall, but Van Petegem was just too strong.

Under control: Van Petigem was confident coming into Roubaix

Under control: Van Petigem was confident coming into Roubaix

Photo: Graham Watson

“I had the entire situation under control,” Van Petegem surmised. “I had Pieri trapped on my right and I knew that I would beat Ekimov in the sprint. Now I will think about winning the World Cup title. After you win two out of three races, you’re obliged. Now I will try to secure points in the Ardennes.”

Pieri’s second-place is a well-deserved result for the strong Italian who promises there’s more to come. Pieri won last year’s GP E3 Harelbeke and finished second in the 2000 Tour of Flanders.

“I worked a lot to make it here today. Now I feel mixed emotions of happiness and disappointment,” Pieri said. “I can be satisfied today that only the strongest rider in the world at this moment beat me.”

For Ekimov, the podium is reflection of the Russian’s determination and class. He promised his U.S. Postal Service teammates and staff he would step up once it was known the reliable George Hincapie would miss this year’s classics.

“Today was my day. The third place is a big honor for me and for this team,” said Ekimov, now 37. “You can never say you’re old if you are still beating young guys who are 25. I proved today I am still strong, I can still fight.”

Race Notes

Team pinpoints Hincapie’s illness
U.S. Postal Service sport directeur Dirk Demol said tests have discovered what’s been ailing classics specialist George Hincapie. According to Demol, it’s a type of lung parasite that’s impaired his ability to breathe and recovery since January.

“Now we know what it is, it’s something that we can clear up quickly,” Demol said before the start of Paris-Roubaix in Compiegne. “Now we hope to get George ready for the Tour de France, that’s the most important thing.”

Hincapie has been back in the United States since late February just after he announced he would not be able to compete in the spring classics, the highlight of the year for the popular Postal rider.

“Without George here, it’s a completely different team,” Demol said. “We could always count on George. He’s a leader like Lance, he can take the team to a new level.”

Max Van Heeswijk and Viatcheslav Ekimov were the team’s top riders, with Ekimov delivering on a promise he’d be ready for the classics. The tough Russian finished fifth overall at De Panne and eighth in the Tour of Flanders before coming to Paris-Roubaix.

Blood tests
The UCI’s “vampires” swooped down on five teams Sunday morning in Compiegne before the start of the race. Thirty-eight riders from Domina Vacanze, Saeco, Credit Agricole, Ag2r and Team Coast were tested between 7 to 8 a.m. None were deemed unfit to start.

To see how today’s race unfolded clickhere to bring up our Live Update window.

Photo Gallery


1. Peter Van Petegem (B), Lotto-Domo, 6:11:35

2. Dario Pieri (I), Saeco, 00:00

3. Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus), U.S. Postal Service, 00:00

4. Marc Wauters (B), Rabobank, 00:15

5. Andrea Tafi (I), CSC, 00:36

6. Romans Vainsteins (LAT), Vini Calderola-Sidermec, 00:36

7. Servais Knaven (Nl), Quick Step-Davitamon, 00:36

8. Daniele Nardello (I), Telekom, 00:36

9. Rolf Aldag (G), Telekom, 00:36

10. Serguei Ivanov (Rus), Fassa Bortolo, 01:08

11. Fabio Baldato (I), ALS, 01:53

12. Frédéric Guesdon (F),, 01:56

13. Damien Nazon (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 02:09

14. Gianluca Bortolami (I), Vini Calderola-Sidermec, 02:09

15. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom, 02:09

16. Nicolas Portal (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 02:09

17. Roger Hammond (GB), PAL, 02:18

18. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Credit Agricole, 02:18

19. Nico Mattan (B), Cofidis, 02:18

20. Marco Serpellini (I), Lampre, 02:18

21. Tristan Hoffman (Nl), CSC, 02:18

22. Bernhard Eisel (A),, 02:28

23. Max Van Heeswijk (Nl), U.S. Postal Service, 02:28

24. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 02:28

25. Antonio Flecha Juan (Sp),, 02:28

26. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, 02:28

27. Jimmy Engoulvent (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 04:33

28. Bert Roesems (B), PAL, 04:33

29. Franck Renier (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 04:33

30. Chris Peers (B), Cofidis, 04:33

31. Wilfried Cretskens (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 04:33

32. Davide Bramati (I), Quick Step-Davitamon, 04:33

33. Johan Museeuw (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 04:33

34. Raphael Schweda (G), Coast, 04:37

35. Andy Flickinger (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 06:57

36. Philippe Gaumont (F), Cofidis, 06:57

37. Leif Hoste (B), Lotto-Domo, 07:00

38. Maximilian Sciandri (GB), Lampre, 07:00

39. Alessandro Cortinovis (I), Lampre, 07:00

40. Kai Hundertmarck (G), Telekom, 07:00

41. Ludovic Capelle (B), LAN, 07:05

42. Christophe Mengin (F),, 12:24

43. Jean-Patrick Nazon (F), Jean Delatour, 12:24

44. Xavier Florencio (Sp), ONCE – Eroski, 12:24

45. André Korff (G), Coast, 12:24

46. Wim Vansevenant (B), Lotto-Domo, 12:24

47. Gregory Rast (Swi), Phonak, 12:24

48. Lorenzo Bernucci (I), LAN, 12:24

49. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), Ag2R Prevoyance, 12:24

50. Bram Tankink (Nl), Quick Step-Davitamon, 12:24

51. Jan Schaffrath (G), Telekom, 13:31

52. Benoit Joachim (Lux), U.S. Postal Service, 14:03

53. Thomas Voeckler (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 16:44

54. Malte Urban (G), Coast, 16:44

55. Eddy Seigneur (F), Jean Delatour, 16:44

56. Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz), Quick Step-Davitamon, 19:03

57. Aart Vierhouten (Nl), Lotto-Domo, 20:31

58. Leon Van Bon (Nl), Lotto-Domo, 20:31

59. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), Jean Delatour, 20:36

60. Sébastien Hinault (F), Credit Agricole, 20:36

61. Mikhail Timochine (Rus), LAN, 22:07

62. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Lampre, 22:50

63. Andreas Klier (G), Telekom, 24:14

Christoph Von Kleinsorgen (G), Coast

Sven Teutenberg (G), Coast

Steffen Radochla (G), Coast

Bekim Christensen (Dk), Coast

Stefan Adamsson (S), Coast

Danny Daelman (B), PAL

Hendrik Van Dyck (B), PAL

Frederik Penne (B), PAL

Fabien De Waele (B), PAL

Andy De Smet (B), PAL

Thierry De Groote (B), PAL

Bruno Thibout (F), Jean Delatour

Christophe Laurent (F), Jean Delatour

Sébastien Joly (F), Jean Delatour

Frédéric Finot (F), Jean Delatour

Samuel Dumoulin (F), Jean Delatour

Kurt Van Landeghem (B), LAN

Wesley Van Speybrock (B), LAN

Tom Steels (B), LAN

Bert De Waele (B), LAN

Tony Bracke (B), LAN

Ruben Plaza Molina (Sp),

Rafael Mateos (Sp),

Antonio Lopez Jos (Sp),

Pablo Lastras (Sp),

Ivan Gutierrez Jos (Sp),

Vicente Garcia Acosta (Sp),

Hugo Pena Victor (Col), U.S. Postal Service

Pavel Padrnos (Cz), U.S. Postal Service

Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus), U.S. Postal Service

Steffen Kjaergaard (Nor), U.S. Postal Service

Antonio Cruz (USA), U.S. Postal Service

Paul Van Hyfte (B), CSC

Geert Van Bondt (B), CSC

Arvis Piziks (LTU), CSC

Nicolas Jalabert (F), CSC

Thomas Eriksen (Dk), CSC

Julian Dean (NZl), CSC

Kévin Van Impe (B), Lotto-Domo

Gorik Gardeyn (B), Lotto-Domo

Nico Eeckhout (B), Lotto-Domo

Cédric Herve (F), Credit Agricole

Corey Sweet (Aus), Credit Agricole

Christopher Jenner (NZl), Credit Agricole

Lilian Jegou (F), Credit Agricole

Yohann Charpenteau (F), Credit Agricole

Stéphane Auge (F), Credit Agricole

Steffen Weigold (G), Gerolsteiner

Torsten Schmidt (G), Gerolsteiner

Michael Rich (G), Gerolsteiner

Olaf Pollack (G), Gerolsteiner

Sebastian Lang (G), Gerolsteiner

Uwe Hardter (G), Gerolsteiner

Robert F Rster (G), Gerolsteiner

Daniele Contrini (I), Gerolsteiner

Christophe Kern (F), Brioches La Boulangere

Anthony Geslin (F), Brioches La Boulangere

Sylvain Chavanel (F), Brioches La Boulangere

Emmanuel Magnien (F), Brioches La Boulangere

Mark Scanlon (IRL), Ag2R Prevoyance

Erki PÜpsep (Est), Ag2R Prevoyance

Julien Laidoun (F), Ag2R Prevoyance

Stéphane Berges (F), Ag2R Prevoyance

Lauri Aus (Est), Ag2R Prevoyance

Mikel Pradera (Sp), ONCE – Eroski

Alvaro Gonzalez Galdeano (Sp), ONCE – Eroski

Rafael Diaz (Sp), ONCE – Eroski

Allan Davis (Aus), ONCE – Eroski

Gorka Beloki (Sp), ONCE – Eroski

Alexandre Usov (Blr), Phonak

Bert Grabsch (G), Phonak

Fabrice Gougot (F), Phonak

Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak

Cyril Dessel (F), Phonak

Roger Beuchat (Swi), Phonak

Denis Bertolini (I), Phonak

Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr), DVE

Alberto Ongarato (I), DVE

Gianpaolo Mondini (I), DVE

Filip Meirhaeghe (B), DVE

Lorenzo Cardellini (I), DVE

Daniele Bennati (I), DVE

Janeck Tombak (Est), Cofidis

Robert Sassone (F), Cofidis

Jo Planckaert (B), Cofidis

Robert Hayles (GB), Cofidis

Tom Flammang (Lux), Cofidis

Zbigniew Spruch (Pol), Lampre

Manuel Quinziato (I), Lampre

Luciano Pagliarini (BRA), Lampre

Alberto Loddo (I), Lampre

Gianluca Sironi (I), Vini Calderola-Sidermec

Fred Rodriguez (USA), Vini Calderola-Sidermec

Marco Milesi (I), Vini Calderola-Sidermec

Mauro Gerosa (I), Vini Calderola-Sidermec

Gabriele Balducci (I), Vini Calderola-Sidermec

Massimo Apollonio (I), Vini Calderola-Sidermec

Roy Sentjens (Nl), Rabobank

Sven Nijs (B), Rabobank

Karsten Kroon (Nl), Rabobank

Robert Hunter (RSA), Rabobank

Steven De Jongh (Nl), Rabobank

Jan Boven (Nl), Rabobank

Alberto Vinale (I), ALS

Angelo Furlan (I), ALS

Davide Casarotto (I), ALS

Stefano Casagranda (I), ALS

Andrea Brognara (I), ALS

Matthew Wilson (Aus),

Bradley Wiggins (GB),

Jacky Durand (F),

David Derepas (F),

Jimmy Casper (F),

Marco Zanotti (I), Fassa Bortolo

Roberto Petito (I), Fassa Bortolo

Nicola Loda (I), Fassa Bortolo

Gustav Larsson (S), Fassa Bortolo

Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Fassa Bortolo

Nicola Gavazzi (I), Saeco

Stefano Zanini (I), Saeco

Christian Pepoli (I), Saeco

Jorg Ludewig (G), Saeco

Paolo Fornaciari (I), Saeco

Salvatore Commesso (I), Saeco

Giosuè Bonomi (I), Saeco

Dirk Reichl (G), Telekom

David Kopp (G), Telekom