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.
|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|