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Cancellara crowned king of the cobbled Classics

Brecht Decaluwé

Swiss master completes Flanders-Roubaix double

Fabian Cancellara stamped his absolute authority on the 2010 Classics season as he claimed his second Paris-Roubaix title in France on Sunday afternoon. In a sublime display, the Swiss champion simply rode his rivals off his wheel near the Mons-en-Pévèle sector, with still more than 50 kilometres-to-go. A little over an hour later he rode solo into the velodrome at Roubaix.

The peloton had held a minutes silence at the start of the race in Compiegne to honour the memory of two-time winner Franco Ballerini. After securing his first Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double, Cancellara paid his own homage to the man with whome he will now forever share the honour of multiple Roubaix titles.

"I wanted the double, I wanted to do something that left a mark in the history of cycling," said Cancellara after his win. "Many great riders have won this race and it’s an honour for me to now have won it twice like the late Franco Ballerini did. That's just one of the reasons why I wanted to do the double."

For the second week in a row, Cancellara was in a class of his own. The E3 Prijs-Harelbeke and Tour of Flanders Champion's race-winning surge gave way to a more than hour-long time trial, which, at points, saw him put three minutes into a select group of the best Classics riders on the planet.

"I hadn't planned to attack in that moment," said Cancellara, echoing his comments after Flanders a week prior. "But that's racing, it's important to seize the right moment and I got it exactly right. When I went, the gap was there and it was increasing, so I went full gas but with a little left just in case because there was a long way to go. But I made it."

Of those left in his wake, Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) proved the strongest as they rode clear of a six-man chase group on the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector of pavé to secure second and third.

Behind them, the chase group also fractured under the strain of almost 250 kilometres of racing. Hushovd's teammate Roger Hammond finished fourth, on the same time as pre-race favourite and defending Champion, Tom Boonen (Quick Step). Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) were the last to finish of the former six-man group.

There was a distinct sense of déjà vu as Cancellara stormed across the final 11 sectors alone. Despite a few bobbles on the uneven surface and one or two excursions onto the grass verges, his smooth style was reminiscent of a week earlier when he rode away from Boonen at the Tour of Flanders. However, he upped the ante this week to humble the men considered contenders in the lead-up to the weekend.

Overcome by emotion after crossing the finish line, the dust on Cancellara's face was broken by streams of tears as he embraced his wife and team management on the infield of the velodrome, which just moments before had erupted in celebration as he had swung left onto the track for his one-and-a-half laps of honour.

Cancellara became the first man in five years to claim both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix titles in the same season, Boonen the man to precede him, in 2005.

From Paris to the pavé

Some five hours earlier on a clear day in northern France, a large breakaway group had opened the first selection of the race. Nineteen riders featured in this leaders' group, including:

Romain Zingle (Cofidis), Maarten Wynants (Quick Step), Gorik Gardeyn (Vacansoleil), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), Jeremy Hunt (Cervélo TestTeam), Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Chris Sutton and Gregory Henderson (Sky), Matthew Goss and Adam Hansen (HTC-Columbia), Rick Flens and Tom Leezer (Rabobank), Yohann Gene (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Mitchell Docker and Roy Curvers (Skil-Shimano), Kasper Klostergaard (Saxo Bank), Stephane Poulhies and Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur Sojasun).

A strong head wind kept the race close to its slowest estimated time schedule, but upon reaching the first pavé sector after almost hundred kilometres of racing the gap to the leaders' had managed to carve out an advantage of more than four minutes. However, the arrival of the cobbles began the gradual grind on the leaders' advantage.

Despite the reduction in the gap, the lead group were still the first to enter the Arenberg forest (sector 17). Behind, Saxo Bank took the approach of the forest as their cue and increased the speed in the peloton - the gap on the leaders dropping below two minutes.

The Trouee Arenberg wasn't as slippery as it has been in previous editions and there much fewer crashes on the 2400 meters long pavé sector. However, it retained its ability to re-shape the race. Cancellara and Boonen led the peloton through the forest and by the time they appeared on the asphalt, the gap to the now nine remaining leaders was less than a minute.

Team Sky accelerated at sector 14 (Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières – at 167km), causing several riders – among them David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) – to get dropped from the peloton.

After passing the second feed zone at 68 kilometers from the finish the last four breakaway riders – Wynants, Hansen, Hunt and Sutton - were caught back by the now 30-rider front peloton. Boonen laid down several accelerations in the ten kilometers that followed, but the Belgian Champion's attacks were easily neutralized by Cancellara and the other favourites.

"Boonen's attacks didn’t bother me and I didn't want to play his game. He tried to do his race and I did mine," said Cancellara afterwards of Boonen's moves.

What didn't work for Boonen was no problem for three other riders. Leif Hoste (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) and Sebastien Hinault (Ag2R-La Mondiale) created a small gap over the favourites group – which was proceeding without Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) or Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank.

In between sector 11 and 10, Boonen took a breather at the back of the main group and that's when the race was decided. Cancellara sneaked away from the front and consolidated his sudden advantage on 3000 meters-long sector at Mons-en-Pévèle. The Swiss Champion quickly bridged up with Hoste, Hinault and Leukemans. Of the trio, only Leukemans was able to keep up with the Swiss champion, but in time he too was dislodged.

In the chase group, Boonen's attempt to bridge to Cancellara was unsuccessful in its major objective, but created a selection of eight men. Flecha, Leukemans, Pozzato, Hoste, Hushovd, Hammond and Hinault the men with the tickets to ride. Despite the organisation behind, by the time Cancellara entered the next pavé sector (Mérignies à Le Prez at 216km) his gap was already up to more than half a minute.

George Hincapie and three HTC-Columbia riders were trailing in the second group, but failed in their bid to bridge up to the eight chasers.

As the rest of the race scrambled to defend their position, Cancellara was forging ahead in an impromptu individual time trial, which saw him build a lead of more than two minutes as he commenced the last 20 kilometres.

In the chasing group Leukemans was dropped after suffering a flat tyre. An acceleration from Flecha saw the numbers in the chase group reduced even further, as both Pozzato and Hoste lost contact with the group.

Flecha's attack typified the apparent desperation of the chase group, who could do nothing to pull back time on the Swiss locomotive that was forging his own path across the pavé. The advantage wavered between 2:30 and 3:00, with almost all the momentum in Cancellara's favour.

When Cancellara hit the Carrefour de l’Arbre with 16 kilometres to race, he had almost three minutes advantage on the bunch. And when he hit sector 3 (Gruson at 244km) the buffer had grown to 3:12, and despite the grimace fixed to his dust covered face he looked every bit a man in control of the situation.

Behind, Pozzato and Leukemans had rejoined the chase group, but as they hit the Carrefour the race for places was reshaped. Flecha and Hushovd setting off together, as Boonen, Pozzato, Hammond and Leukemans formed a second chase group. Again, the acceleration behind had a momentary effect on the gap to the leader, but at 2:45, it was hardly any threat to the Swiss Champion.

With the final sector of cobbles negotiated, Cancellara sacrificed some of his advantage as he drifted across towards his team car to throw several well-earned high-fives. The little gold Angel trinket given to him by his wife and daughter prior to his Flanders win was again extracted from his jersey pocket as a broad grin stretched across his face.

Sweeping around the final right-hand turn and into the velodrome Cancellara rode his half lap with his hands firmly attached to his handlebars, but as the final loop began so did his celebrations. He first clutched his helmet in disbelief and then raised his arms to salute one of the most commanding Paris-Roubaix victories in recent years.

Two minutes later, Flecha led Hushovd into the velodrome. As expected, the Norwegian used his superior sprint prowess to swing inside on the final banking to grab second place from the exhausted Spaniard.

Full Results
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 6:35:10  
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 0:02:00  
3 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
4 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervelo Test Team 0:03:14  
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step    
6 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 0:03:20  
7 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha 0:03:46  
8 Leif Hoste (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:05:16  
9 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:27  
10 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Team HTC - Columbia 0:06:59  
11 Grégory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack 0:07:00  
12 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne 0:07:05  
13 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
14 Dominic Klemme (Ger) Team Saxo Bank    
15 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step    
16 Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr) Team Katusha    
17 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
18 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team    
19 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
20 Mathieu Claude (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
21 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team HTC - Columbia    
22 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Transitions    
23 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo    
24 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
25 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
26 Michael Barry (Can) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
27 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
28 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
29 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team    
30 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team Radioshack    
31 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank    
32 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram    
33 Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervelo Test Team    
34 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
35 Frank Hoj (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
36 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank 0:07:21  
37 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha 0:07:27  
38 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team HTC - Columbia 0:09:33  
39 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
40 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:11:01  
41 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0:12:44  
42 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step    
43 Servais Knaven (Ned) Team Milram 0:12:47  
44 Robert Wagner (Ger) Skil - Shimano    
45 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
46 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne    
47 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano    
48 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Team Radioshack    
49 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Team Katusha    
50 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test Team    
51 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team Radioshack    
52 Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 0:14:00  
53 Theo Bos (Ned) Cervelo Test Team 0:14:32  
54 Rafai Chtioui (Tun) Acqua & Sapone    
55 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
56 Anthony Ravard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
57 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
58 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram    
59 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
60 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:14:36  
61 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
62 Yohann Gene (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
63 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
64 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:14:38  
65 Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
66 William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
67 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team    
68 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Team Milram    
69 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
70 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
71 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick Step    
72 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux 0:16:07  
73 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Team Katusha    
74 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank 0:16:32  
HD Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step    
HD Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step    
HD Marco Velo (Ita) Quick Step    
HD Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step    
HD Marco Bandiera (Ita) Team Katusha    
HD Laszlo Bodrogi (Fra) Team Katusha    
HD Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha    
HD Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team    
HD Adam Blyth (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
HD Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
HD Glenn d'Hollander (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
HD Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
HD Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
HD Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
HD Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
HD Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
HD Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank    
HD Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
HD Gustav Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank    
HD Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank    
HD Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
HD Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
HD Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo    
HD Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas-Doimo    
HD Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
HD Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
HD Timothy Gudsell (NZl) Française Des Jeux    
HD Arthur Vichot (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
HD Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram    
HD Thomas Fothen (Ger) Team Milram    
HD Roger Kluge (Ger) Team Milram    
HD Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram    
HD Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia    
HD Adam Hansen (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia    
DNF Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia    
DNF Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia    
DNF Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia    
DNF Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank    
DNF Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank    
DNF Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank    
DNF Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank    
DNF Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank    
DNF Alfredo Balloni (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
DNF Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
DNF Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
DNF Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
DNF Damien Gaudin (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
DNF Saïd Haddou (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
DNF Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
DNF Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne    
DNF Guillaume Blot (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne    
DNF Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne    
DNF Kevin Ista (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne    
DNF Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne    
DNF Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne    
DNF Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne    
DNF Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Mathieu Perget (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Joost Van Leijen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Robin Chaigneau (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Steve Houanard (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Steven Cozza (USA) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Ricardo Van Der Velde (Ned) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Nicolas Rousseau (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Andres Sergio De Lis (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team Radioshack    
DNF Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team Radioshack    
DNF Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team Radioshack    
DNF Bjorn Selander (USA) Team Radioshack    
DNF Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team    
DNF John Murphy (USA) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Jackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Jimmy Casper (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Cedric Coutouly (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Rony Martias (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Romain Matheou (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Stéphane Poulhies (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Francesco Di Paolo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Fantini Alessandro (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Reinier Honig (Ned) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Thomas Bertolini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Alberto Loddo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Damiano Margutti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Fabrice Piemontesi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Luca Solari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNS Fabio Taborre (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNS Cameron Wurf (Aus) Androni Giocattoli