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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of Paris-Roubaix.
Bonjour from the Hell of the North. We are just 20 minutes away from the start of the 112th edition of Paris-Roubaix.
The riders are currently getting off their team buses and heading to the start area. Many are signing autographs and checking their bikes for a final time before the start.
The sky is grey in Compeigne but there is little chance of rain today. It is almost certain to be yet another dry Paris-Roubaix.
Team Sky has captured the moment before the start and celebrated Gabriel Rasch's final race with a team selfie photo.
Tom Boonen has signed on. He is targeting a record breaking fifth win.
This year's Paris-Roubaix will be the final showdown on the cobbles between Tom Boonen (OPQS), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
Other names to watch for include Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), and perhaps Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky).
This years race is 257km long, with 28 sectors of pave, adding up to a total of 51.1km on the cobbles.
As riders line-up for the start, Cancellara takes a moment to focus his mind before the race. With his arms on the tops of his bars, he lowers his head in a kind of pray or moment of meditation.
Before the start Boonen spoke briefly to the journalists in Compeigne.
"There's always a bit of tension at the start but I'm relaxed, more relaxed than before the Tour of Flanders. Maybe because this race
suits me so well and maybe because I'm in better form than last week," he said.
And they're off! The riders have rolled out of the square in Compiegne.
The race heads out of town for the official race start.
25 teams and 199 riders have officially started Paris-Roubaix from kilometre 0.
After the flag is dropped, three rider immediately go on the attack.
The peloton is lined out, with many riders wearing leg warmers and gilet. It is only 9C but fortunately the roads are dry.
The riders face 97.5km on normal roads before the first section of pave at Troisvilles à Inchy.
Race radio informs us that there now eight riders on the attack, while Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) stay near the back of the peloton.
The eight riders have been caught. The peloton is back together.
The average speed so far, as the first break tries to get away, is 48km/h.
We have another attack at the head of the peloton.
There are eight riders in the move and they have a 25-second lead.
The eight attackers are: David Boucher (FDJ.fr), Kenny de Haes (Lotto Belisol), Andreas Schillinger (NetApp-Endura), Michael Kolar (Tinkoff-Saxo), Clément Koretzky (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Tim De Troyer (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) and John Murphy (UnitedHealthCare).
They now have a lead of 1:00.
The eight now lead by 2:20. The peloton has settled into steady pursuit mode as the first hour of racing comes to an end.
In the last few days Cyclingnews has attended all the big-name rider press conferences and followed riders in training.We also captured the rider's thoughts at the start and during Saturday's team presentation.
Fabian Cancellara has won Paris-Roubaix three times. He revealed that he keeps his cobblestone trophy in three special windows in his sauna. He is ready to call in the builders if he wins for a fourth time.
Cancellara is also chasing a record breaking third Tour of Flanders - Paris-Roubaix double and a second consecutive double after dominating the cobbles in 2013.
"I know that I can make history if I win, but in the end I’m just thinking about the race itself and I’ll give my maximum possible to do the race well," Cancellara said.
"I have nothing to lose because I won last weekend. It’s the really more the others who are under a bit of pressure. I won the Tour of Flanders so I can stay a bit more relaxed, and maybe it’s up to the others to make the race. I have a few cards to play."
The riders have covered 48.6km in the first hour. The pace has now eased slightly, with the break of eight extending its lead to 4:40.
The peloton has eased but the breakaways have pressed on, extending their lead to 9:10 after 50km of racing.
The riders are just 30km from the first sector of pave.
This year there are 28 sectors of pave for a total of 51.1km. Each one is rated by stars, from one (the easiest) to five (the hardest).
Race orgsanisers ASO confirmed this year's route after studying the cobbles last week. Read about the cobbled sections and see their star ranking of difficulty here.
The most difficult sectors of the cobbles come in the final part of the race. The sectors count down from 1 to 28, with the last symbolic 300m sector coming just a kilometre from the finish in the Roubaix velodrome.
The early sectors test the riders legs and shake out some of the weaker riders. The Forest of Arenberg (sector 18) traditionally marks the start of the real racing and opens the gates the Hell of the North.
As the riders saw during their training rides on Thursday and Friday, the cobbles are dry and dusty with some sheltered sectors, like the Forest of Arenberg, surrounded by grass, which could raise the risk of crashes.
Tom Boonen knows the cobbles like the back of his hand. He is looking for a record breaking fifth Paris-Roubaix title today.
He took his last victory in the famous velodrome two years ago, with an audacious solo break. He would love to do it again this time around.
His build-up hasn’t been ideal and he didn’t have the legs at the Tour of Flanders.
“At the Tour of Flanders I was pretty good, until the last 30km. The last half hour I was on the limit, physically,” he explained.
“On Friday I felt really good on the cobblestones. I hope now that I will make it to the finish line. It’s all a little bit on the limit. I don’t really have anything to look at and say ok I am ready for this race, but I did the maximum possible. It’s not up to me any more. I just need to start and do my best.”
Boonen and Fabian Cancellara have been the two men that have dominated this race over the past decade. The pair have won seven of the last ten editions between them and are odds on to make it an eighth. But Boonen won’t just be keeping an eye out for Cancellara out there on the cobbles.
“Last year there was Sep Vanmarcke and he is one of the guys that will be there for the next few years. (Greg) van Avermaet is good on the cobblestones. It is the first time for Sagan and we will also have to look at him and I will be looking into his eyes to see what he can do here,” Boonen said.
Equipment plays a major role in Paris-Roubaix. A puncture can cost a rider his chance of victory and a bike needs to offer comfort and great handling while also allowing the riders to race at speed.
Cyclingnews bike tech expert James Huang is in France for Paris-Roubaix and has produced this detailed photo gallery of Fabian Cancellara's Trek Domane Classics bike for the race.
It has his custom Spartacus design.
Will this be he bike that dominates the pave today?
Check out the gallery here.
Back in the race, the break is just five kilometres from the first sector of pave.
Four teams have put riders at the front of the peloton to lead the chase: Omega Pharma Quick Step, Trek Factory, Belkin and Katusha.
They are working for their big-name team leaders.
After two hours of racing, the average speed is 46.1km. That is fast!
The break is on the cobbles.
The Cyclingnews reporters Barry Ryan, Brecht Decaluwé and Sadhbh O'Shea are on the race, with tech specialist James Huang and Sam Damsie from our sister site Bikeradar.com.
They captured many of the big-name riders at the start of the race for this special photo-gallery.
Click here to enjoy the images.
The break and the peloton made it over the first sector of pave without any major problems. Only 27 more sectors to go.
The riders have already covered 102km of the 257km race distance.
Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara are the big name rivals but Filippo Pozzato has often been the bridesmaid at Paris-Roubaix.
He is not having a great season but should not be ruled out. He spoke before the race.
"Vanmarcke who’s going very strongly and I think is one of the big favourites too. And there’s also a rider who I like a lot, the French rider Démare, who I think is the biggest talent out there in the peloton. So for the French there’s a very. very good rider who could do well."
"I hope I’ve found the strength I was missing last week. I’m confident because Paris-Roubaix is a race I like a lot and I finally have the sensations that I want, so I’ll leave it all out there because it’s the last race I have before the break before the Giro and I want to do well."
"I think there are some good young riders coming up, even if I think it will be the same names up there fighting it out for victory."
Can you improve in the space of a week?
"I think it’s possible, and since I’ve gone home I’ve analysed the race a bit to see what might have gone wrong in the build-up because I know that I worked really, really hard."
"I have an incredible foundation of work done but I missed a little bit to stay out in front and fight for the race. Maybe I made a bit of a mistake in not racing as much in the month before Tirreno and Roma Maxima because with a physique like mine, you need to work a lot on race rhythm. Maybe last Sunday was good for me mentally and by hanging on in there, it might give me a little something extra to be in front, we’ll see. I’m confident, a lot more confident than last week when I had a few doubts. But we’ll see how it goes."
The break has covered pave sectors 27 and 26, their lead has fallen to 7:30.
As the kilometres and sectors of pave countdown to the Forest of Arenberg, the tension in the race is starting to rise.
The eight attackers have a lead of 7:20 now.
The peloton has just completed sector 26 and riders grab bottles from their teams parked at the exit.
The break is passing through the feed one in Solesmes and collecting their lunch.
In the peloton Tom Boonen is at the back after dropping back to the OPQS team car.
Boonen apparently punctured. According to today's Gazzetta dello Sport, the Belgian had never punctured in his 14 rides at Paris-Roubaix and has only crashed once, in 2011.
Could this be an unlucky Roubaix for Boonen.
Demare (FDJ.fr) also punctured, as did a Europcar rider, who swapped bikes with a teammate.
This morning at the start in Compiègne there were a lot of people gathering around the Trek Factory Racing team to catch a glimpse of top favourite Fabian Cancellara.
The team's DS Dirk Demol looked back one more time at the late loss of Stijn Devolder from his team.
"He was very downhearted when he left the team hotel on Friday. He did so much for it. During the day of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne he trained for seven hours, not just riding along the canal but full on training. You know he didn't even touch one single bit of chocolat since New Year's Day? He lived one hundred percent for it and was more ready than ever to do well in Flanders and Roubaix," Demol told Cyclingnews.
Jimmy Engoulvent was the Europcar rider who swapped bikes. He is now back onto the peloton.
Tom Boonen is also back at the front of the peloton.
It is time for sector 22 from Verchain-Maugré à Quérénaing. It has 3 stars.
Demare seems to be having a tough day. He has been caught up in a crash at the rear of the peloton.
The dry weather means there are hundreds of thousands of spectators along the race route. It also means the race throws up a dust storm as the riders and team cars blast past.
Demare gets back on to the peloton yet again. Now he needs to move up to the front.
There is only 25km to go until the Forest of Arenberg.
The peloton hits sector 22. The cobbles are very rough and covered in dry mud.
Démare spoke briefly before the race.
"My goal is to gain experience and stay in contact as best I can with the strongest riders for as long as possible, people like Cancellara and Boonen. I’ll fight to stay in front for as long as I can." he said.
Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) finished second in 2013, beaten by Fabian Cancellara in a sprint in the velodrome. He is looking to take revenge on that defeat.
"I dream of a similar scenario to last year but this time finishing ahead of Fabian Cancellara," he said.
"I should have done a track stand to avoid doing the sprint from the front. I’ve learned a lot from my error and I’ve taken advice from my teammate Theo Bos to give me a better chance. I’m 25, which is young for a race like this but I’ve already done it four times and I think I have enough experience to finally win it."
The Omega Pharma-QuickStep team is at the front of the peloton. While Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) continues to ride at the back.
The Trek, Katusha and Belkin teams are also near the front as the speed rises in the peloton.
The peloton is about to hit sector 20: Maing à Monchaux-sur-Écaillon.
The eight breakaways are still working smoothly together but their leads is down to 6:00. The should make it to the Forest of Arenberg but the peloton is hunting them down.
BMC is working to bring Greg van Avermaet back up to the peloton. He seems to have suffered a puncture.
Race radio has warned the teams that a vehicles lost some oil near the entrance to Forest of Arenberg. The organisers are trying to clean up the spill but it could be another factor in a key point of the race.
Crash! Several riders go down as the peloton goes under a bridge.
Several riders are chasing, while more road furniture causes problems for the riders.
It has caused a split in the peloton.
The USA's John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare) is on the front of the break and looks strong.
Sagan has punctured. He's back chasing with a teammate but is off the back of the peloton.
Two other teammates are waiting for him but the peloton is about to hit sector 19.
The Forest of Arenberg is just 5km away. Well come to Hell!
Sagan is at the back of the peloton but have tome to move up before the Forest starts.
up front they're already fighting and sprinting for position before the Forest.
Team Sky has hit the front, with Wiggins also there.
The peloton is on sector 19. This is a 2.5km sector and the last before the Forest of Arenberg.
Geraint Thomas is leading the peloton.
Team Sky has taken control of the peloton. With all the big favourites tucked in behind them.
There is a strong side wind and with Thomas riding on the crown of the road, the other riders are forced to suffer in the wind.
The metal tower of the Arenberg mine is the sign that the Forest is approaching.
The approach to the Forest is slightly downhill, increasing the speed. A level crossing also throws up other problems.
The peloton enters the Forest of Arenberg!
The sector is 2.4km long and dead straight. Today i it packed with fans, packed on one side of the cobbled road.
The Forest is a 5-star sector, meaning it one of the hardest.
Several riders from the break have punctured, leaving just four riders up front.
Andreas Schillinger (Team NetApp-Endura) is leading and looks the strongest.
Now it's time for the peloton to hit the Forest of Arenberg.
The peloton is flying on the early part of the cobbles.
Riders are trying to take the centre of the cobbles to avoid the mossy parts between the cobbles.
Björn Leukemans (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) is leading the peloton.
A trek rider has stopped on the side of the cobbles, with a mechanical problem.
It's Gregory Rast. He seems to know his race is over.
Kristoff also needed a wheel from a teammate and is at the back of the peloton.
The peloton is leaving the Forest and taking on bidons. The riders are also studying who is well-placed and who is suffering.
The Forest of Arenberg has caused little damage with no major crashes or splits. This year's race is still wide open. However Kristoff is in a chase group, as some attacks go off the front of the peloton.
The race has been slowed by a level crossing. Boucher, who punctured in the Forest has been stopped.
Behind a crash on sector 17 of pave scatters the peloton for a moment.
The peloton has eased slightly but it surely won't last long.
Crash! Cancellara goes down.
A rider moved off the kerb and brought down Cancellara and a lot of other riders.
Cancellara didn't go down hard and is quickly aware but he's at the back of the peloton.
The crash will only raise the tension in the peloton.
It looked like Hayden Roulston (Trek Factory Racing) caused the crash by jumping from the kerb. He lost control of his bike and went down hard.
It seems Kristoff also went down. He's having a tough race.
Race radio has announced that Kristoff has retired. His race is over.
Behind Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) needed some help from his team mechanic.
Boonen is on the front of the peloton and trying to force a split. Gaps are opening.
Niki Terpstra is helping Boonen. This is a serious attack.
There are ten riders in a front group. Everyon e else is scattered across the pave.
Sagan is stuck behind, while Greg van Avermaet (BMC) is leading the attack.
There are still a lot of riders in the main peloton and so the race could come back together. Some chasers have already caught the Boonen move and Thor Hushovd (BMC) is trying his hand off the front.
The attack is pulled back but other riders try and Hushovd goes again. He looks strong.
John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team) is no longer in the break, which is down to three riders.
The peloton is about to start sector 14. This will surely cause more problems and splits.
There are still 60 or more riders in the peloton.
Behind Filippo Pozzato has punctured and Bradley Wiggins has been distanced after a puncture.
A Team Sky rider has crashed, going off into the grass at speed.
Up front Offredo (FDJ.fr) has made an attack and the peloton is splitting under the effort.
Degeonkolb is trying to get back on with Hayman and Durbridge but they have a lot of work to do.
After the cobbles, the peloton eases and then other attacks go off the front. The race is in a state of flux.
The peloton is feeding from the roadside, with Sagan at the back, in the cars.
Sector 13 and Boonen goes on the attack again. He's is clear alone.
Boonen is going across to some earlier attackers as a crash takes down Luca Paolini (Katusha).
A Cofidis rider also ends up in the ditch. This is Paris-Roubaix.
Boonen has joined what is a big group of adventurers. Thomas is in there too.
Fabian Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins are both in the peloton despite crashes and punctures.
Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ.fr) is also in the front group. They are now the front group after catching the trio up front.
There are 12 riders in the move. The peloton is only 20 seconds behind, with BMC leading the chase.
Thomas and Boonen are trying to drive the move but the other riders seem tired or unwilling to work.
The riders hit the Orchies sector, number 12, and so Boonen tries to split the group.
There are five BMC leading the chase behind.
Is Boonen sacrificing his chances for a teammate or trying to take control of the race?
After 200k of racing, the Boonen attack has 22 seconds but the Belgian does not seem convinced it is the right strategy.
Behind BMC, Team Sky also has four riders up front, with Boasson Hagen and Trek has several teammates to help Cancellara.
There are six riders in the Boonen move but the gap is falling. It is just 10 seconds now.
Boonen flicks his elbow to wave Thomas through but he seems frustrated that the move is about to fail.
The six hit sector 11, with the peloton breathing down their necks. Sagan is also up there.
As expected Boonen surges again, attacking on the grass on the side of the road.
Only Thomas seems able to go with Boonen into a stiff headwind.
Yannick Martinez (Team Europcar) is also there but the peloton is coming up to them.
Thor Hushovd (BMC) is coming across to the four upfront.
Bert De Backer (Giant-Shimano) is also with Boonen.
The pave sector has split the peloton and a group has caught Boonen's group.
However things will get very serious very soon. It's time for the Mons-en-Pévèle sector. It is 3km long and always shakes-up the race.
Here we go!
Hushovd leads the attack but the peloton can see them.
Boonen is on the front and is driving the pace. The arrival of Hushovd has changed the race and the chances of this move staying away.
BMC is no longer chasing behind, forcing Belkin and Trek to do the work.
Belkin has Bram Tankink in the Boonen attack but his teammates are working behind.
There are only 25 or so riders in the peloton now.
The six have opened a 30-second lead and feed quickly after the pave. Behind Trek takes up the chase for Cancellara.
Wiggins and Sagan are also in the peloton.
The race is a knife edge. It could either way. Boonen's attack could stay away. But chasers could soon come after them with conviction.
Gregory Rast is now working for Cancellara at the head of the peloton but the gap is still growing. It is now 45 seconds.
Could Cancellara try to go across the gap on his own?
Here we go! Sep Vanmarcke has surged clear and Cancellara has gone after him.
Boom is on Cancellara's wheel. They need to work together after they leave sector number 8. The gap is 30 seconds.
Other riders are coming across to form a serious chase group.
There are 15 riders in the chase group but they have lost speed.
Now Sagan tries to go across the gap. He's had a difficult race with a puncture before the forest of Arenberg but looks good now.
Upfront Boonen goes on the attack. He's trying to go clear alone from the rest of the breakaway.
Boonen is away and nobody seems to have the legs to go after him.
Thomas tries and drags back the group up to Boonen. That is not a good sign for Boonen.
The riders hit sector 7, with Sagan and a Belkin rider off the front of the chasers.
Boonen again waves his hand in frustration that nobody has the strength or desire to work with him.
Cancellara remains on the wheels in the chase group. Is he waiting or is he tired?
John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) is also in the chase group despite his problems earlier.
Borut Bozic (Astana Pro Team) changes bikes due a problem. He is in the chase group and so still has a chance.
Sagan and Maarten Wynants (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) are fading and the peloton can see them. They are 15 seconds from the attackers but only 10 seconds ahead of the peloton.
The riders hit the double whammy sector of Cysoing à Bourghelles and Bourghelles à Wannehain.
Boonen tries to inspire the attackers but the gap is down to ten seconds. however Sagan and Wylants have got across.
But Behind Cancellara is also giving it a go.
Crash! Greg van Avermaet (BMC) go down on a dusty corner.
The dust is incredible today, making it difficult for the riders to see the road in front of them.
As the riders return to normal roads, the peloton looks set to catch the Boonen group.
However Belkin now has three riders up front and Sagan goes again to kick live back into the attack. He goes away alone.
The group has failed to get organised behind Sagan.
The break can see Sagan and the peloton can see the break.
Sagan starts sector 5: Camphin-en-Pévèle.
Behind Vanmarcke and Cancellara have caught the Boonen group.
The 25-rider group now has Sagan in its sights as Vanmarcke begins the chase, with Cancellara on his wheel.
Other riders are fighting to stay with them.
With them are Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Stybar (OPQS).
Sagan hits the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector alone. But the chase is on behind.
Thomas has crossed to the Cancellara chase group.
Terpstra is trying to drag Boonen across too but he looks tired.
The chasers catch Sagan, with Vanmarcke upping the speed.
Wiggins is just behind Terpstra and looks good, better than Boonen.
Sagan has been dropped by the four up front, with Cancellara driving on the front but fights to get back on.
Behind Boonen, Terpstra, Wiggins and Thomas are leading the chase.
Sebastian Langeveld (Garmin-Sharp) is also there with the Wiggins group.
The five upfront have a 15-second lead.
Stybar logically refuses to work upfront. He has Boonen and Terpstra behind.
The final real sector of pave will be decisive.
All together. The five attackers did not work together and the chasers caught them.
The riders hit the Willems à Hem sector. There is just 8km to go.
There are 11 riders in the front group. Anyone of them could win this year's race.
Degenkolb has De Backer to help him in the finale, to control the attacks. He must be the favourite for a sprint finish on the velodrome.
Terpstra tries to go off the front as they hit the roundabout and begin the main road to Roubaix.
Thomas sets off in pursuit of Terpstra but the Dutchman has an 11-second lead.
What a finale!
Terpstra is gaining time. The race is slipping from the grasp of the other riders.
Everyone is tired behind.
Terpstra is using his time trial skills as he tries to stay away and reach the velodrome alone.
Everyone else seems ready to fight for second and third place. In modern cycling points are also important for team rankings and future rider salaries.
Terpstra is on the drops with his mouth open as he begins the final, symbolic sector of pave. He's almost at the velodrome.
He enters the track. A lap and half to a great solo victory.
The packed crowd gives him a huge cheer as the bell rings.
Tersptra sits up and wins Paris-Roubaix, waving his arms in celebration.
A few seconds behind, John Degenkolb wins the sprint for second place ahead of Geraint Thomas.
We stand corrected Fabian Cancellara finished third, taking the final place on the podium, 20 seconds behind Terpstra.
Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) finished fourth, with a tired Tom Boonen only tenth, behind Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) who proved he can race on the pave as well as in the Tour de France.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was sixth after an aggressive race.
This year's race saw the big riders cancel each other out, with different attacks and chases.
Terpstra was perhaps an outsider for victory but has been a key part of the Omega Pharma team. He took advantage of the riders controlling Boonen and Stybar.
The wind also played a major factor in the race, slowing attacks, helping the chasers and tiring the riders.
Thanks for joining us for our blow by blow live coverage today.
We'll have full coverage of the race, a huge photo gallery of all the action and special interviews with all the protagonists from the race very soon on Cyclingnews.