Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) went into the Paris-Roubaix as a favourite but he could only managed 61st after two crashes spoiled his day. The Italian, winner of last weekend's Ronde van Vlaanderen, went down once on the exit of the Forest of Arenberg and again after another rider crashed in front of him.
"What suffering," he said after the race to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It happened at the exit of the Forest of Arenberg. I thought I had made it and then, in a moment of distraction, I touched wheels with my team-mates."
The 27 year-old was riding closely behind the wheel of Paolo Fornaciari when the crashed occurred. "I had a look around and at that moment my front wheel touched Fornaciari's rear wheel; and then I crashed.
"The time it took me to get back up and on my bike caused my race to be altered. I kept going. By chance I found myself near Fabio Baldato. He was there and pulled me for three kilometres at full speed, from the forest until we reached the head of the group.
"We were back in the group when another sector of pavé took me out. This time one rider crashed in front of me and I could not avoid him. I landed on the same part of my body as before. From that moment forward I just thought about finishing the race. I was really suffering."
Ballan will race in the next Classic, Amstel Gold. "I don't want to think about it, but only to heal my wounds."