Degenkolb wins Paris-Roubaix

Giant-Alpecin rider out-sprints Stybar and Van Avermaet in Roubaix velodrome

John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) rode a near-perfect race to take the 2015 edition of Paris-Roubaix in a sprint finish ahead of Zdeněk Štybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).

The German rider latched onto a dangerous move initiated by Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep), and even after the lead group swelled to seven riders he had more than enough to take his second Monument of the season after winning Milan-San Remo last month.

"This is the race I’ve always dreamt of winning," Degenkolb said before hugging his teammates at the finish.

In a race that ebbed and flowed with different dynamics and groups coming into play with each sector of cobbles, Degenkolb stood out, not just for his expected strong finish – he was second on the velodrome last year – but for his aggression and precision at key points in the race.

When Van Avermaet and Lampaert created a small buffer on the elite contenders inside the final 12 kilometres Degenkolb’s teammate Bert De Backer jumped clear. It created an opportunity for Degenkolb to follow just moments later and he quickly linked up with his teammate before forging clear and joining Van Avermaet and Lampaert.

When the Etixx rider understandably refused to work Degenkolb didn't panic. He and Van Avermaet continued to share the work as a move that included Stybar, Lars Boom and Jens Keukeleire joined up to form the final winning break inside the final few kilometres.

Coming into the velodrome it was Etixx who hit the front with Stybar in second wheel and Degenkolb riding in his slipstream. When the Milan-San Remo winner opened his sprint on the final banking there was little challenge from the rest of the break. Stybar hung on for second with Van Avermaet claimed yet another podium in a spring Monument.

"This is unbelievable. I can’t believe it, right now. I’ve had to work very hard for it and my team was there the whole day to hold the situation under control, until I could start my race. We knew that it was going to be hard and that a big group could go to the finish. I was in a situation that I had to go, otherwise I’d be in the same situation as last year [when he finished second behind lone winner Terpstra, ed.]. I had to invest something and I was not afraid to fail. That was the key.

"When you are probably the fastest guy, nobody wants to work with you and bring you to the finish. That’s why I decided to go by myself. I think it was the right decision and at the right moment. It was really, really hard but I’m just so happy and proud."

The 2015 Paris-Roubaix podium: Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep), John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)

How it unfolded

In stark contrast to the grey clouds, wind and rain that featured in Compiègne on Saturday, the 200 riders who lined up at the start line on Sunday were treated to sun and a favourable tailwind that blew them towards the first of 27 sectors of pavé.

A blistering fast hour of racing at an average of 50 km/h featured a lot of attacks and despite the high-speed nine riders managed to power away. They were Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Grégory Rast (Trek Factory Racing), Alexis Gougéard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Adam Blythe (Orica-GreenEdge), Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Ralf Matzka (Bora-Argon 18) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

After 75 kilometres of racing the nine had a maximum lead of 10 minutes over the peloton with Team Sky and Katusha starting to pick up the speed.

The gap slowly started to come down on the third sector of pavé while heading towards the first monstrous sector of Arenberg. Just before the forest team Sky’s Geraint Thomas flatted, forcing him to start the Arenberg at the back of the peloton.

BMC led the main field over the first part of the Arenberg, about five minutes behind the leaders.

Possibly due to the dry weather conditions, there were few incidents and a large group exited the forest at more than five minutes from the leaders, where Sean De Bie punctured. Bradley Wiggins was among the riders who was distanced but he quickly returned.

On a railroad crossing after the Arenberg forest, a major incident occurred with train barriers coming down with three quarters of the peloton ignoring the lights and slaloming over the tracks shortly before a TGV-train passed through. A little later, the race jury placed motorbikes in front of the peloton to make them wait for the riders who were held up.

The peloton rides through the Trouee d'Arenberg

The Etixx-QuickStep team made their first surge at sector 14 over the Tilloy – Sars-et-Rosières, after 180 kilometres of racing, while trailing the leaders by less than four minutes.

After coming off the sector the course turned briefly right, resulting in a section with crosswinds. Five Etixx–QuickStep riders featured at front of the peloton and created a lot of damage. Van Avermaet and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) were among the riders who were caught behind in a second echelon, and Wiggins even further behind, but they all managed to work their way back into the mix.

With just over 50 kilometres from the finish the peloton hit pavé sector 11 over the Auchy-lez-Orchies – Bersée at less than two minutes from the break. While Slovakian champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) accelerated, his teammate Matti Breschel and former winner Johan Vansummeren (AG2R-La Mondiale) were among the victims of a crash just before the Mons-en-Pévèle at sector 10.

The remains of the peloton – about 40 riders - hit the cobbles and Etixx–QuickStep made a second move with a fierce acceleration into crosswinds from Stijn Vandenbergh. In the peloton, FDJ took the initiative on sector 9 over the Mérignies – Avelin with Yoann Offredo leading out French champion Arnaud Démare. The FDJ-led field was about 15 seconds down on Vandenbergh, who was a minute down on the five leaders.

Wiggins lived up to his role of favourite by emerging alone at Moulin de Vertain. The former Tour de France winner quickly caught up with Vandenbergh, and Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) and Stybar also bridged across.

Katusha worked hard in the peloton to bring the Wiggins-group back, which happened just before sector 6 through the Cysoing – Bourghelles. Lars Boom (Astana) led the peloton over the sector with the breakaway group within sight.

The move from Boom caused damage in the peloton and once off the cobbles Van Avermaet and Sagan kept the pace high.

On the following sector of Bourghelles - Wannehain, last year’s winner Niki Tersptra attacked. Once off the cobbles an select group bridged up to the breakaway. The pace dropped back and with 21 kilometres to go about 20 riders were together in front of the race.

Belgian cyclist Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing Team

In front Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) and Borut Bozic (Astana) attacked, however, on the cobbles of Camphin-en-Pévèle (sector 5) Roelandts dropped the Astana rider ahead of the typically crucial sector of Le Carrefour de l’Arbre.

Thought it was a strong late-race effort, the Lotto-Soudal rider was reeled in with 14 kilometres to go after a ferocious acceleration from Boom. Once caught, the lull in pace allowed Van Avermaet and Lampaert to jump clear.

With the pair still within sight, De Backer set up Degenkolb.

Even when Stybar, and then a trio of Boom, Elmiger and Keukeleire made it seven riders at the front of the race, Degenkolb remained composed. With Sagan and Kristoff out of the picture, he was undoubtedly the fastest finisher in the group.

He kept close to the front and survived the final and relatively gentle sector of cobbles in Roubaix, and rounded the track before doing what he does best — winning the sprint to the line.

John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) wins Paris-Roubaix


Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin5:49:51 
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step  
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
4Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
5Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling  
6Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge  
7Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:07 
8Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky0:00:28 
9Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:29 
10Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha0:00:31 
11Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
12Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
13Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling  
14Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team  
15Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step  
16Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
17Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
18Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky  
19Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
20Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing  
21Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
22Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
23Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo  
24Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team0:01:38 
25Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
26Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
27Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:02:21 
28André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:02:55 
29Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
30Tim De Troyer (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
31Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
32Yoann Offredo (Fra)  
33Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
34Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
35Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal  
36Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:02:58 
37Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr0:03:21 
38Benoit Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
39Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
40Yannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar0:03:24 
41Tim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
42Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
43Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
44Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha  
45Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing  
46Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
47Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky0:03:29 
48Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha0:06:05 
49Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
50Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha  
51Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step0:07:35 
52Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:48 
53Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:07:50 
54Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - Qhubeka  
55Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
56Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Team Europcar  
57Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
58Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
59Frederico Zurlo (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
60Davide Frattini (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
61Nelson Oliveira (Por) Lampre-Merida  
62Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
63Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
64Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
65Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
66Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team  
67Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
68Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
69Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18  
70Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha  
71Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky  
72Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
73Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team  
74Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek Factory Racing  
75Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
76Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
77Jack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:07:56 
78Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo  
79John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team  
80Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling  
81Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
82William Bonnet (Fra)  
83Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
84Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:13 
85Adam Blythe (GBr) Orica GreenEdge0:08:24 
86Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:10:53 
87Thomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
88Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:11:59 
89Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo0:12:25 
90Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling0:13:06 
91Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
92Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Bora-Argon 18  
93Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo0:15:21 
94Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling  
95Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
96Ralf Matzka (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
97Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
98Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Bora-Argon 180:16:32 
99Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
100Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
101Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement0:17:16 
102Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge0:17:24 
103Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
104David Boucher (Fra)  
105Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky  
106Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
107Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
108Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
109Antoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar  
110Gert Joeaar (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:17:27 
111Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale  
112Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
113John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
114Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
115Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing0:17:32 
116Pieter Van Speybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
117Simone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:17:34 
118Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
119Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:17:39 
120Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
121Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
122Christophe Laborie (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
123Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:24:54 
124Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
125Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
126Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
127Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
128Julien Morice (Fra) Team Europcar  
129Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo  
130Frédéric Brun (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
131Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:27:12 
132Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge  
133Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
OTLSam Bewley (NZl) Orica GreenEdge  
OTLMorgan Lamoisson (Fra) Team Europcar  
OTLDaniil Fominykh (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
OTLTanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
OTLIljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
OTLShane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Argon 18  
OTLJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFAdrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFAndreas Stauff (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFGerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFMatt Brammeier (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFThéo Bos (Ned) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFYauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
DNFKenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFMurilo Antonio Fischer (Bra)  
DNFCyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFJonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFRuben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFKristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFClément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFKevin Ledanois (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
DNFJelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFGiovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFVincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFJames Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFJesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFAdriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team  
DNFJose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFEnrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFJasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team  
DNFChristoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFDaniel Mclay (GBr) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFRüdiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha  
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha  
DNFVladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team Katusha  
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFBram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFGeraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMickael Delage (Fra)  
DNFRobert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra)  
DNFMaxat Ayazbayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra)  
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
DNFJonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling  
DNFHayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFGert Steegmans (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFHugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFChun Kai Feng (Tpe) Lampre-Merida  
DNFManuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre-Merida  
DNFAriel Maximiliano RICHEZE  
DNFMatthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling  
DNFJérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling  
DNFRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  

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