The Belgian sprinted to victory in the Roubaix velodrome ahead of a five-man group, with Quick-Step's Zdenek Stybar finishing second and Cannondale-Drapac's Sebastian Langeveld rounding out the podium in third. Stybar's teammate Tom Boonen, four times a champion in Roubaix, crossed the line in 13th to close out his illustrious career.
Crashes and mechanicals took their toll on several of the day's top favourites, including Van Avermaet, but most of the big names were still in the fight at the pointy end of the race when a split formed towards the head of affairs, with Van Avermaet, Stybar and Langeveld joining a select six-rider group with Sky's Gianni Moscon, Trek's Jasper Stuyven, and Lotto Soudal's Jürgen Roelandts in pursuit of a lone Daniel Oss (BMC) up the road. Before long, Boonen, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the rest of the surviving favourites were stuck chasing a seven-man group that refused to be pulled back in.
An injection of pace from Van Avermaet at the Carrefour de l'Arbre dropped all but Stybar and Langeveld. Moscon and Stuyven reconnected with the leaders in the velodrome and Moscon even tried to go long for the line but Stybar quickly responded and launched his sprint. It was Van Avermaet who pulled in front inside the final hundred metres, however, holding on to nab his first Paris-Roubaix title at the finish.
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel, click here