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Startt Gallery: The beauty of Paris-Roubaix

Dusty roads and lack of visibility made for a very different race than the previous edition of the ‘Hell of the North.’

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Paris-Roubaix, it has been said, always produces greatness. And little more than six months after the epic mudfest that was the memorable 2021 edition, one of the most aggressive races in history this past Sunday produced the fastest Paris-Roubaix ever.

Void of the autumn rains of 2021, this year’s race is marked by heat and dust. “That was by far the dustiest Paris-Roubaix ever,” said Adrien Petit, a French rider from the Roubaix region who finished fourth. “Sometimes I literally couldn’t see where I was going!” The dusty roads and lack of visibility also produced an overflow of crashes under the high speeds from early accelerations by some of the top teams like the British Ineos Grenadiers squad.

Also read: The winning bike of Paris-Roubaix  – Dylan van Baarle’s Pinarello Dogma F

Meanwhile, recent Milan-San Remo winner Matej Mahorič kept the pressure on all day long by forcing the pace in an early breakaway. But in the final kilometers, Ineos continued its strong spring classics campaign, launching Dutch rider Dylan Van Baarle in the final 30 kilometers. Catching the lead group, he then made a powerful solo attack prior to the often-decisive Carrefour de l’Arbre and simply rode away from what remained of the field.

Behind the losers were many. Wout van Aert could be happy to finish second. But coming on the heels of COVID, the Belgian must wonder what would have been possible if he was truly at 100 percent. And recent Tour of Flanders winner Matthieu van der Poel was reflective when he hit the old Roubaix showers, as he once again came up short in a race that was seemingly destined for him. But Roubaix is like that. It is a race that rarely produces gifts. But that’s why winning it is always so special.