Complete Live Report
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' complete race coverage of Paris-Roubaix.
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- Paris-Roubaix start list
- Paris-Roubaix race preview
- Paris-Roubaix previous winner
- Peter Sagan saving his answers for Paris-Roubaix
- Paris-Roubaix: 12 top contenders
- Tom Boonen: The rise of a legend in Paris-Roubaix 2002
- Paris-Roubaix - Forum talk
- Cyclingnews Films - Trailer
- 1988 Paris-Roubaix: The day the breakaway won
- Paris-Roubaix: 29 cobble sectors rated
A very good morning to all our readers. We're in the French town of Compiègne for the start of the biggest one-day race of the year. It's Paris-Roubaix.
The riders are currently signing on, and we're around 55 minutes away from the official roll out. We'll be bringing you minute-by-minute coverage of the entire race, so sit back and enjoy the race.
A few things before we get started. At the top of the page you'll find all our quick-links to all the important pages, like our start list, run-down on contenders, main features, and route details. On the right hand side you'll find the complete list of pave sectors, and their rating in terms of difficulty. One * means easier, while ***** are reserved for the most difficult sectors. To help, I've highlighted in bold some of the key sectors. You're welcome.
Around 45 minutes until we head out from the start, and in terms of weather, we've blue skies with a bit of cloud cover. The forecast for later is that there might be some rain. We've not had a truly wet Roubaix since 2002, and while some of the sectors will be muddy, the majority should be dry, if the rain holds off. We'll bring you more on the conditions later on.
Teams are signing on at the moment and we've had Suweb and Mitchelton in the last few minutes. BMC Racing, and Bora are yet to appear but they'll be off their respective buses soon. The biggest crowds surround the Bora bus - for Sagan obviously - and Quick-Step Floors who have utterly dominated the Spring season so far. Can any stem the tide today? We'll find out. Lets hear from the defending champion, shall we.
Greg van Avermaet:
“It will always feel good to be back here”, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) stated on the eve of tackling Paris - Roubaix, where he claimed his first victory in a Monument last year. “I did the recon yesterday and it felt great to be back on the cobbles. I also did one lap on the track… I’ll always have great memories in the back of my mind when I come here.” Although he hasn’t won on the cobbles so far this year, the Olympic champion claims his shape is “pretty similar” to what it was last year. “I didn’t make the right choices so far but hopefully I can find the right tactics. First of all, I’ll take care of myself, try to control the race. I’ll try to be in the right moves and I have a good sprint also. I don’t have to go solo before the Vélodrome and that’s one of my strong points.”
Van Avermaet has not had that same zip this year, but he's still a genuine contender for the win today. He also had this to say last night.
"I think that sprint and punch are the same. If I have to sprint on the climbs then I can do it," Van Avermaet explained. "I think I'm strong enough, but I think that there are more guys focusing on me and not helping me to go. That is what has made the difference. I go a few metres, a bloc, and then they stop racing. That’s how it goes and then we have a counter from Quick-Step. It's hard because they have three cards to play and most of the time I have one. That's how I get in a bad situation afterwards."
You can read the full story on Van Avermaet's thoughts, right here.
“The best defence is a good offense. I have to stay calm and cool. We also have a good team and it’s up to us to invent a new tactic. Quick-Step dominated the first classics but we’re not done yet. To wear the rainbow jersey doesn’t put an extra weight on me. I’m serene. I’ll do my best. I’ve never won Paris - Roubaix but I’d love to cross the line first on the Vélodrome. It’s an interesting race and, to me, the most important one.”
Sagan has never won this race, he's never even made the podium and with only one Monument to his name, many fell that he's so far fallen short in the Classics. He has a chance today, but can he take on Quick-Step? Can he handle the cobbles? If you'd like a decent assessment of his chances, then read this story.
And Bahrain have just signed on. Haussler is the best chance for a top-ten result but also watch out for Cortina. He might be young but he was super strong in the break at Flanders and really caught the eye. Koren and/or Bozic for the break today?
191 Heinrich Haussler (Aus)
192 Borut Bozic (Slo)
193 Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa)
194 Kristijan Koren (Slo)
195 David Per (Slo)
196 Luka Pibernik (Slo)
197 Wang Meiyin (Chn)
Back to Sagan for a moment though, and one of the most interesting sub plots in the last few days has been the mind games between him and ex-Quick-Step rider, Tom Boonen. When Sagan talked about riders racing against him, rather than trying to win, here's what Boonen had to say.
"I don't think Sagan really should talk about a lack of cooperation. He is the one who always starts to drag. He looks to see what is going on, and then he comes forward once and starts waving his hand. If you do that you have to keep your mouth shut."
Boonen, who won the Tour of Flanders three times and Paris-Roubaix four times, added: "He always tries to benefit from the work of other teams. There is nothing wrong with that, but then you do not have to say afterwards 'they do not work with me'."
That full story is right here and we'll have to see if Sagan does indeed keep quiet during and after the race, and lets his legs do the talking.
A nation expects.... France has not won this race since Guesdon caught the main contenders by surprise in 1997. That was in FJD's debut season, and they're still going with Madiot hoping that Demare can win today. The French rider is in decent-enough form but will need to save his bullets for the finale. He has a strong team, that's for sure, and better sprint than most when it comes to the velodrome. Can the former Milan-San Remo winner take his second Monument?
Sep Vanmarcke is another hopeful looking to end QuickStep's run of success in the Spring Classics. Can he win? Yes. Will he win? Eh, not so sure but the podium is certainly a strong possibility if he can avoid crashes and bad luck. The Belgian made the cut in our preview of the top contenders. You can find that article, here.
Just over 15 minutes until the riders set out through the neutralized zone. The early, light cloud cover has burnt off and we're left with perfect blue skies and sunshine.
And Quick-Step have started to make their way to the startline. Huge pressure on their shoulders but they're in such good form, and have their tails up, it won't really effect them. Their line up is stacked with potential winners and you can take your pick for Gilbert, Terpstra, Lampaert, and Stybar. Even Keisse could play a really important role late on.
11 Niki Terpstra (Ned)
12 Tim Declercq (Bel)
13 Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
14 Iljo Keisse (Bel)
15 Yves Lampaert (Bel)
16 Florian Sénéchal (Fra)
17 Zdenek Stybar (Cze)
Key for Van Avermaet today is going to be Kung. If he can play a similar role to Daniel Oss from twelve months ago, then Van Avermaet has a much greater chance of defending his crown. Here's the BMC Racing line up. Kung, Schar and even Roelandts are the core of that team around Van Avermaet.
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)
2 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux)
3 Stefan Kung (Swi)
4 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel)
5 Michael Schär (Swi)
6 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel)
7 Francisco Ventoso (Spa)
I'm also looking forward to seeing what Trek Segafredo can do today. They have a former winner in their ranks but Stuyven and Pedersen are the two riders with the best form. Rast has made the line up, too. He's competed in 14 editions of the race, and finished fourth in 2011, when he teammate Cancellara took second.
41 John Degenkolb (Ger)
42 Koen de Kort (Ned)
43 Ryan Mullen (Irl)
44 Mads Pedersen (Den)
45 Grégory Rast (Swi)
46 Jasper Stuyven (Bel)
47 Boy van Poppel (Ned)
#ParisRoubaix: Ten minutes to showtime
And what of Mitchelton Scott. Talk about Rast's record but Hayman has been in 17 editions of the race and won two years ago. This is more than likely his last outing but he's here with a strong-looking team. This race probably suits them more than Flanders, and they've got a couple of underdog cards to play in Durbridge and Trentin. Surely, Hayman will have a free role today, too, although it's unlikely he'll be allowed to go in the break again.
31 Mathew Hayman (Aus)
32 Jack Bauer (NZl)
33 Luke Durbridge (Aus)
34 Alex Edmondson (Aus)
35 Roger Kluge (Ger)
36 Luka Mezgec (Slo)
37 Matteo Trentin (Ita)
And we are officially rolling in the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix. Through the neutralized zone, as we see Van Avermaet give the TV crews a quick wave. Knees does the same, as we see Geraint Thomas call for the team car.
Team Sky and Katush are are on the front as we see Kittel is also back with his team car and having a natter with the Katusha DS. The flag will drop in just a few minutes as Evriti comes back from through the cars having needed a radio adjustment.
A compact group hits the first long stretch of flat roads, while the first sector of cobbles are still some way off. Here's a list of the first few sectors.
29 - Troisvilles (km 93.5 - 2.2 km) ***
28 - Briastre (km 100 - 3 km) ***
27 - Saint-Python (km 109 - 1.5 km) ***
26 - Quiévy (km 111.5 - 3.7 km) ****
25 - Saint-Vaast (km 119 - 1.5 km) ***
We've not mentioned him yet but he's still just stopped by the road side for a brief moment. It's Alexander Kristoff. Here's what he had to say this morning:
The form has been good but I’ve been sick from Paris-Nice a bit. I was hoping for more, for sure, but today is a day that I can change it. I don’t have too good a history in this race before but you never know with Paris-Roubaix and sometimes it’s a surprise winner and hopefully today that can be me.
What kind of race are you expecting?
Obviously, the weather conditions are good like they have been in the last years. I think we can expect it to be more or less like the past years. For sure, it will be a small group but it’s always like this because it’s such a hard race.
It is a different race to last year for you because you are the only leader in the team, how will that play out today?
For me, it’s a slightly new situation. I have a new team but the race will be more or less the same. I think that the pave that were the most important will be the same.
About 40 riders have come back through the cars having dropped of clothing and needed some changes. The flag is going to drop in just a few minutes and we'll have our first attacks of the day.
No real action to report just yet other than Kristoff is back with the bunch. Sagan is doing the same as we continue to tap out a gentle pace through the neutralized zone.
Many are lining the roads to commemorate the 1918 Armistice. The peloton passes through the crowds.
There's warm applause for the riders, but we're about to get underway with the racing.
Quick-Step have put two riders on the front, even before the flat is lowered.
We're hearing reports that there's rain at the Arenberg Forest, one of the key sector of cobbles in the race.
At the back of the bunch Haussler is in conversation with a rider from Mitchelton. Stybar is also back there.
The peloton bunches up... Prudhomme appears from his sunroof, waves his flag and we're racing at the 2018 Paris-Roubaix.
- 255km remaining from 257km
Just the small matter of 255km and 29 sectors of pave to go.
No attacks just yet but the pace has certainly increased. Dimension Data look keen on making it into any early move that goes clear, as they have two men near the front.
At the back of the bunch Diller has called for a team car and already Quick-Step are marking moves.
And Bora are marking Quick-Step.
One rider has skipped up the road but two more are starting to track the move down. The bunch are in no mood to sit up, however, and it's all going to come back together.
Another dose of attacks with Cofidis, Bora and Quick-Step in contention but nothing is getting off the front at the moment. 250km to go. We'll be in Roubaix in no time, at this pace.
The bunch hit BAILLY, with around 5km covered and Cofidis fire off another attack and it's matched by Bauer from Mitchelton. Movistar also want in on the action, and chase the two-man group down. All together once more.
Still those two Quick-Step riders near the front, and their job is to make sure that no one dangerous slips away. Stybar is still at the back, mind, and just keeping out of trouble as he talks to his former teammate Chavanel. The Frenchman's team didn't make it to Flanders but they're here today. As we see Movistar attack again but the move isn't going anyway and it's shut down right away. That Movistar rider didn't really put in a complete attack, he was just testing the waters to see if anyone else would go with him.
A rider from Veranda is on the front now, in that kit that looks a lot like the Columbia colours of 2008. Only nicer.
We get our first shots of Sagan in the race. He's mid-pack and just minding his own business. He has a man near the front who is covering the early moves as we see Dimension Data attack. Once again the move is brought back, and we're all together.
This looks good. Bahrain Merida have attacked but alas Movistar close the gap. Or do they? The Movistar man sits up and the pace drops. The Bahrain chap keeps his head down and he quickly joined by three other riders. This move is the first serious attack of the. Who is chasing? Quick-Step of course. They don't want a rider from Cofidis, UAE or Bahrain Merida to go up the road.
In fact that Quick-Step rider has now jumped, he's trying to join the attack. This causes a response from the main field, and we're all back together again.
- 240km remaining from 257km
And four move go clear with Dimension Data and Delko both in the mix. We've covered around 15km so far.
Cofidis are trying to get across by they might have missed out this time.
The four leaders have opened up a 15 second gap, and they're working well together. The shape of the bunch is key though. If they're spread out then the move has a chance. Alas it's not, and they're more in an arrowhead formation. The chase is still on.
And it's all back together with 236km to go. The tailwind conditions are helping with the super-fast start as we see one lone rider jump clear.
At the start this morning, Sadhbh O'Shea spoke to Langeveld, who was third here last year and rode a fine Tour of Flanders last week.
I’m feeling good. It’s one of the days that you’re looking forward to all year. The sun is out and there will probably be some muddy sections but the condition is good so I’m looking forward to it.
What sort of race are you expecting?
There’s a bit of wind and it’s going to be a fast race. Like always in Roubaix, there will be a lot of things going on and I’ll try to stay out of trouble and see what the final brings.
What were the feelings after finishing third last year?
It was one of the highlights of my career. Last year, I had a super day, the condition was also good. The condition is good now and hopefully I can have a super day now be in the final.
How well can the team take it to the others?
We have two good guys. With Vanmarcke we have a guy who has already been on the podium here and a couple of times in the top-four so with me also we have some experience. I’ve done the final a couple of times also. On paper, we should do the final but it’s a one-day race and a lot can happen. I think we’re ready and I think at the end of the day we’ll ride for the victory and whatever it brings in the end it will be good.
Will you be looking to Quick-Step or riding your own race
For sure, they will play a role in the final because they have a super strong squad with four leaders but they are not the only team out there. For sure, we will take our responsibility but it’s not everybody against Quick-Step but they will play a factor. They have four strong guys and they have a winner with Terpstra so we will see what happens.
It's Brice Feillu on the attack. Once a Tour de France stag winner (back in 2009) but now 32 years of age, he's taken a flyer and he's clear of the bunch. I might be wrong but that 2009 stage win in the mountains might be his own ever pro win... he win in Andorra, and I think Nocentini took the yellow jersey that day, and held it for over a week before Contador took control. Good Tour that. Anyway in the time I've taken to write all this Brice Feillu has been caught.
- 229km remaining from 257km
Movistar, Cofidis and Dimension Data again in the thick of the action but now it's Mitchelton who attack. 229km to go.
It's Jack Bauer who leads the four-man move with Cofidis and Delko there as well.
The lead group has swelled to five riders, with a few more looking to make contact but the bunch are right there and have closed the gap once more. Almost 30km covered and the peloton is still together.
But now there's a split. The bunch fracture after catching the Bauer group but it allows for a gap to open up. It's eventually caught as we see Quick-Step, once more marked by Bora, and Katusha hit the front. The WorldTour team are starting to get involved a bit more now.
And as the peloton regroup it's Bauer again who goes off the front. One, then two riders go with him as we see Dillier and a rider from Dimension Data jump across. We're riding at 64kph at the moment and it's flat-out.
- 221km remaining from 257km
221km to and two riders have a gap. They have about 10 seconds on the bunch, and the gap goes out. It's Wallays, and Robeet. 220km to go.
Here a summary of last year's race:
Winner: Greg Van Avermaet
Winner's Quote: In the end I was a bit afraid of Stybar because he wasn’t working with us. I’m really happy to have finally won a Monument because I’ve had a long wait for this. I had a bit of bad luck before the Arenberg but the team did good work. Everybody was in the right place for me and Daniel Oss did really good work and everything came together for me.
Memorable moment: The decisive move took shape in installments over one of the least fearsome sectors of cobbles, at Templeneuve with 30 kilometres to go, as Van Avermaet, Stybar and Langeveld joined Gianni Moscon (Sky), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) in pursuit of earlier attacker Daniel Oss (BMC). A lone chase attempt by world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was interrupted by a puncture, and the septet out front quickly opened a lead of 30 seconds over the Boonen group behind.
Van Avermaet laid down a fierce acceleration on the jagged cobbles of the Carrefour de l'Arbre with 16 kilometres remaining and only Stybar and Langeveld were still with him out the other end, and that trio continued to augment its advantage over the rest of the field over the remaining three sectors of pavé.
Key sector(s): Mons-en-Pévéle, Templeneuve, Carrefour de l'Arbre
Best of the rest: Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) and Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac)
What we wrote at the time: For a time it seemed as though Van Avermaet was destined, like Raymond Poulidor at the Tour de France, to become synonymous with missing out on the wins he coveted the most. That has all changed, and at times the BMC man has appeared unstoppable this spring, with a string of top results culminating in his first Monument victory ahead of Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step) and Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac).
Complete top 10: 1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 5:41:07
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
3 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
4 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky
6 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 0:00:12
7 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
8 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9 Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
10 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
And Dillier has now joined the attack but I don't think Quick-Step are going to allow Naesen to have a teammate up the road. The gap is down to around 10 seconds as one more rider tries to make contact with the leading trio.
- 214km remaining from 257km
They're coming over in ones and twos but now have six leaders up the road, including Soler and Bystrom. The group have 20 seconds over the bunch with 214km to go.
Clearly a number of teams feel as though they've missed out and Cofidis and Astana try and fire men off the front of the bunch. Quick-Step are now setting the pace with the gap at 21 seconds.
Delko Marseille Provence KTM to the rescue? They've missed the break, so have sent a rider up the road. Dimension Data try the same but they're chased down. The leading six have 25 seconds, and that might be the early break.
Delko Marseille Provence KTM are clearly intent on showing off the best kit in the bunch, and have continued with this attack. The leaders are only at 21 seconds so bridging up isn't impossible. I always think of Dextro Energy tablets when I see the Delko kit/name.
Didn't see this but Jack Bauer has been in a crash. His shorts are torn and he's calling for the team car. He was in several early moves but now he's looking for help. Mitchelton Scott will need to change their game plan now. Get that man a Dextro.
How many Latvian nation time trial championships have you won because I bet it's not as many as Gatis Smukulis. He's won six and he's the Delko rider on the attack. Two more riders are chasing him down but the gap to the leading six is now at 40 seconds. 207km to go.
And Bauer is now with the medical car having treatment. He should be okay.
- 205km remaining from 257km
So after 50km of racing, we have six leaders. And they are:
Bystrøm, Dillier, Soler, Robeet, Duquennoy and Wallays. The bunch are at 50 seconds.
Thomson and Soupe have joined Gatis Smukulis in the chase group but the six leaders are now 1'50 ahead of the field with 202km to go.
I thought that Gatis might be the Latvian equivalent of Gavin. I should have known better though. There's no way on earth you'd get a pro rider called Gavin.
Gatis is a Latvian masculine given name borne by over 5,000 men in Latvia. The etymology of the name is disputed. Some of the suggestions include a possible relation to the Latvian word gatavs ("ready", "mature"). ... Another version suggests that the word is derived from the German name Gotthard.
A reminder of the six riders in the break:
Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates), Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale), Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Ludovic Robeet (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic), Jimmy Duquennoy (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic), and Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal).
Gilbert is doing the rounds. First he has a chat with Demol in the Trek car, now he's with his Quick-Step DS and sharing a few words. The bunch have eased off for the first time today, with the break clear by over two minutes, and the gap is only rising. Terptra is also at the back and taking on a drink as we see the three-man counter attack try and catch the leading six. They're closing, with the gap down to just 20 seconds.
Gavin Mannion! Of course.
And now we have nine leaders, with the two groups merging. 196km to go.
- 195km remaining from 257km
195km to go and the nine man group consists of:
Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates), Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale), Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Ludovic Robeet (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic), Jimmy Duquennoy (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Geoffrey Soupe (Cofidis, Solutions Credits), Gatis Smukulis (Delko Marseille Provence KTM), and Jay Robert Thomson (Dimension Data).
At the front of the bunch the AG2R look to protect Naesen but the pace has dropped off, with the break now 5'44 ahead of the main field.
And back in 2016:
Winner: Mathew Hayman
Winner's Quote: “I can’t believe it. I broke my arm five weeks ago and I missed all the racing, I raced in Spain last week,” Hayman said. “This is my favourite race. It is the race I dreamed of winning.”
Memorable moment: It was Hayman’s 16th appearance at the Hell of the North, previously finishing eighth in 2012, and he was the underdog in an elite five-man group that came to the line. The riders were already part of a select group that did not include pre-race favourites Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo). They went clear on the Camphin-en-Pévèl sector after an attack from Stannard distanced much of their group.
Key sector(s): Camphin-en-Pévèl. Carrefour de l’Arbe
Best of the rest: Tom Boonen, Iam Stannard
What we wrote at the time: He rightly celebrated on the podium as he lifted the cobblestone prize. Everyone else could only spit out the dirt from their lungs and fight the burning pain in their legs.
Complete top 10: 1 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 5:51:53
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
3 Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data 0:00:03
6 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling 0:01:00
7 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal
8 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling
9 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:07
10 Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie 0:02:20
Still near the back of the bunch is Haussler. We caught up with him yesterday, and this is what the Australian had to say:
It could even be a 10-12 guy sprint because the conditions are that good. I noticed on the recon yesterday there’s a lot of mud but it’s dried out, so it’s a lot smoother than normal. It depends on Quick-Step. I don’t think they’ll want to keep it together but if they do, it’s possible because there’s no real major parts where the wind will kick up from the side where you can split it. Every year is a different situation.
I’m missing a little bit already from last year. I don’t have the form so I need to follow, follow, follow. If Niki decides to smash it on the Carrefour, either I can hold the wheel or not.
Paris-Roubaix is different because it’s flat so if you’re doing 600 watts on the front, it’s 400 watts or 450 in the wheel. But in Flanders if Niki is doing, say 700 watts on the climb, then the guy following him also has to do 700 because it’s on a climb. You can save a lot of energy in this race just by sucking on a wheel or hiding yourself all day.
It may even be a little harder than having a headwind, but the weather report I saw said 7 or 9kph tailwind so that’s not going to make a big difference. If we had the 30kph wind from Friday, then sure it would be a crosswind in some places and it’d split to bits.
It's not every year that Paris-Nice winner makes the break in Paris-Roubaix but that's what we've got with 24-year-old Marc Soler, who put his hand up for this race.
- 184km remaining from 257km
The gap to the leaders has stretched to eight minutes with 183km to go. Naesen, Haussler, and Pedersen are all drifting along at the back of the main field.
Carrying on our look back at previous editions:
Winner: John Degenkolb
Winner's Quote: "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."
Memorable moment: 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.
Key sector(s): Le Carrefour de l’Arbre
Best of the rest: Zdeněk Štybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing)
Complete top 10:
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 5:49:51
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team
5 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
6 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge
7 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:07
8 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:28
9 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:29
10 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 0:00:31
We're about 10km from the first sector of pave at Troisvilles. Van Avermaet is near the back of the bunch but he'll want to move up pretty soon. The pace is about to jump up dramatically.
And just like that, Katusha, Bora, EF and Quick-Step hit the front of the bunch and line things out for their respective leaders.
This first sector is 2.2km in length and has been given a *** rating.
We riders sprinting out of corners, and then taking to the gutter just to move up a few places, as we prepare to hit the first sector.
Back in 2014
Winner: Niki Terpstra
Winner's Quote: "For me it’s the most beautiful classic of the year. It's a dream to win this. It was the big goal I was aiming for and I did it." Terpstra said after lifting the winner's cobble stone prize. We had Tom in the front group but the directeur sportif said it was good to do some attacks. I went after the cobbled section and it was the good one."
Memorable moment: The Dutchman took advantage as the other riders controlled each other after a nervous, tiring race in dry conditions and carved out a winning margin that allowed him cross the line alone and let a roar of celebration. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won the sprint finish for second place, some 20 seconds behind Terpstra. Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was third.
Terpstra attacked after the final sector of pave with six kilometres to go. Other riders hesitated in the headwind and so Terpstra got a gap and never looked back.
Vanmarcke led out, but Cancellara simply had more in the tank and had enough to win his third Roubaix title and his second Flanders and Roubaix double of his career.
Key sector(s): Terpstra attacked with 6km to go.
Best of the rest: John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing)
What we wrote at the time: The other riders hesitated for a vital few seconds in the headwind and Terpstra was away. He quickly opened a 15-second gap and never looked back. He handed the final symbolic sector of pave with ease and then entered the velodrome alone, with a roar from the packed crowd. He completed his lap and a half at a steady speed and then celebrated with a loud roar and with some emotional arm waving. He has learned how to ride the Classics at Omega Pharma-QuickStep in recent years and has stepped up to take the biggest victory of his career.
Complete top 10: 1 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 6:09:01
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:20
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
5 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
6 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
7 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
8 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin Sharp
9 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
10 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
A rider from Movistar has hit the deck, and he's hit the deck hard. He went over the bars, and at least landed on some of the grass but he's lying face down.
Up the road and Kung has quit the race. That's a blow for Van Avermaet.
- 162km remaining from 257km
I think that was Barbero for Movistar, but not entirely sure. Once we have more information, we'll pass that on.
At the front of the race the break are about to hit the first sector of cobbles. 162km to go.
Not sure what even caused that fall for the Movistar rider. It didn't look like there was a touch of wheels, but he stopped abruptly before coming down.
Most of the cobbles here are dry, but the corners still have some mud. Mercifully, this secteur is one of the more rideable ones, it has a gentle slope in the riders' favour and isn't too badly surfaced. Only when it takes a right angle left hander towards the village of Inchy does it start to rise gradually, but it's soon over and the course rejoins the modern world again.
Now we're on the hardest part of the sector, with the break lined out. The bunch are at 7'43.
Briastre is the next sector and the break will hit that in a few minutes. As Bora lead the peloton. Chavanel is at the front too, and we can see Terpstra, Sagan and Vanmarcke.
And FDJ take over and Demare is second wheel. Again they're taking up the pace work really early.
Bora take over as the cobbles begin and that's Rowe in second wheel. The peloton line out, and the pace is so high that we see the gap to the leaders drop down to 6'49.
And a huge crash.
Riders take the grass and try and go around but that's taken down well over a dozen riders.
A Katusha rider looks hurt, and Naesen was caught up in that too. Quick-Step have hit the front and it's Terpstra setting the pace.
Pedersen, Rowe, Oss, and around 30 riders are in the Terpstra group, but more and more riders are coming back. The break are now on the Briastre, another *** pave section.
The flatter section of mud have created a smoother line for the riders in the break, and they duly take advantage, with 154km to go.
At the front of the peloton it's QS and Team Sky who are setting the pace. It doesn't look like any of the genuine contenders lost time in that crash on the last sector. Kittel was dropped, actually and a number of BMC and Katusha riders. And Van Avermaet was caught out too. That's a massive surprise this early in the race. He was in a similar position last year but now QS, Bora and Team Sky are looking to put the defending champion out of contention. Kung out and then on the first sector of cobbles, Van Avermaet is caught behind a fall.
And the bunch hit the second sector, and it's all Quick-Step on the front. They want to put Van Avermaet under as much pressure as possible.
The Avermaet group is around 20 seconds down on the main contenders group.
Tony Martin starts to set the pace now, at the front of the Quick-Step group. That's going to make it that much harder for riders in the Van Avermaet group.
Van Baarle is slipping back. It doesn't look like he was in the fall but that's not a good sign as we see Martin create a gap.
- 148km remaining from 257km
And there's another big fall for a Veranda rider. Up ahead and Martin has forced a little split.
And Kristoff has been dropped already. That's a massive blow for the Norwegian.
At the front of the race, the break are about to hit the Saint-Python sector of cobbles.
It looks as though the peloton has come back together, so it's crisis over for Van Avermaet but he can't afford to get caught up like that again.
No! Van Avermaet still hasnt' made it. Race radio indicated that the re-grouping had taken place but there's the Olympic champion at the back of a group of BMC riders, trying to come back into contention. This could be long, long chase.
And now the main field hit the Saint-Python sector. The Martin group was caught it now, finally, looks like Van Avermaet is about to make contact. Naesen too for that matter.
Kristoff, not a single teammate with him, his chasing to get back on. Where are his UAE teammates?
⚠️ Magnus Cort Nielsen (AST) has retired. ⚠️ Abandon de Magnus Cort Nielsen. #ParisRoubaix
@Paris_Roubaix Sun, 8th Apr 2018 11:50:52
- 141km remaining from 257km
The leaders are now on sector 26 of Quiévy, our first **** sector of the race. It's 3.7km in length, as we see Kristoff make contact with the back of the bunch.
Is Demare in trouble? He's drifted to the back of the peloton on this sector of cobbles, and that's not where he should be. Even Kristoff has gone by him.
Flat. Demare has takes a new front wheel and that's why he drifted back. He's back on smooth roads, and the chase should be a lot easier for him.
And Naesen has the same problem, and takes a wheel from a teammate.
- 136km remaining from 257km
Crash and Moscon is down on a corner. Bora also involved as the break take on the Saint-Vaast sector.
The peloton are back on the tarmac and Moscon is going to have to chase. His shorts are ripped bur Doull is with him. The Italian should be okay, as at the front of the race, Quick-Step continue to set the pace.
Sagan and Van Avermaet are riding next to each other, as we see Kittel at the back of the peloton. The break's lead is down to 4'35.
Tony Martin again sets the pace at the front of the Quick-Step train as the bunch hit the Saint-Vaast sector. This is only the fifth sector of pave so far, as we see Martin power long the cobbles. Moscon is chasing and has Naesen and Demare for company - the latter two coming back from mechanicals.
- 131km remaining from 257km
Demare is in trouble here because the Moscon group have left him. He now has to chase on his own.
130km to go and so many of Quick-Step's riders have already been forced to play catch-up. Who hasn't? Peter Sagan.
Demare is the last rider to make contact but he should do it in the next few minutes as the pace drops slightly at the front of the peloton. Up ahead, and the break are about to hit sector 24, just a ** rating here.
Yesterday, Sadhbh O'Shea caught up with Lotto Soudal's Jens Keukeleire. The Belgian was originally ruled out of the race through illness.
Did you think that you would miss the race?
Normally, yes. I started having a fever after the day of Gent-Wevelgem, and I thought this is it. The sickness was already there for a couple of days and it just got worse. I thought that I would have to make a cross through the Classics season but on Thursday I started to feel a little bit better. I rang our team and said that I think that I might be able to make it, and he said that it was up to me. If I felt like I could be there at the start then they would take me on. I started training again this week and I was able to wait until the recon on Thursday to see how I felt and I felt good.
I’m realistic in knowing that I’m not 100 per cent. I don’t need any motivation at all to ride Paris-Roubaix so just to be here is already good and we’ll see how it goes.
What do the team do without Tiesj?
We don’t have one big leader but we are all guys who can get really far into the final and I think that is the card that we should play, just to try and be there with as many guys as possible for as long as possible and see whoever is the strongest.
- 123km remaining from 257km
It's all Quick-Step on the front of the bunch as they hit sector 24. The Belgian team have been on the front foot throughout the race so far but there's still a long way to go.
- 120km remaining from 257km
A few cracks in the break as we see a few gaps open up on the next sector of cobbles, as the gap continues drop to 3'46. We've 120km remaining in Paris-Roubaix.
And now we see the bunch hit the beginning of the Verchain-Maugré sector. Dust kicked up, these roads are dry in the centre, but there's is still a level of mud in the gutters.
And now Soupe leads the break onto sector 23 at Quérénaing. This has been a key sector in the past, will it be so again? BMC and AG2R lose a man each from the back of the peloton.
Sky and Katusha take up the pace setting as the bunch hits Quérénaing. That looks like Stannard on the front, setting the pace, as Lotto Soudal look to get into the mix as well. At the back we've a number of riders just hanging on for dear life.
At the front of the race, Soupe once again leads onto the next sector at Maing.
- 113km remaining from 257km
Tim Declercq finds himself at the back of the race, and is forced to chase, as the break complete the Maing sector.
The next phase of the race is critical:
21 - Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 140.5 - 1.6 km) ***
20 - Haveluy (km 153.5 - 2.5 km) ****
19 - Trouée d'Arenberg (km 162 - 2.4 km) *****
18 - Hélesmes (km 168 - 1.6 km) ***
17 - Wandignies (km 174.5 - 3.7 km) ****
16 - Brillon (km 182 - 2.4 km) ***
15 - Sars-et-Rosières (km 185.5 - 2.4 km) ****
Degenkolb is looking for a new bike, as the bunch lines out along the Maing sector. The race is well poised but Quick-Step continue to set the pace.
Vanmarcke, Sky, Sagan, are all well placed as we see Vanmarcke move into third wheel, behind two Quick-Step riders. The bunch has just completed the Maing sector.
Not a speck of dust on Gilbert or Terpstra yet. They've been so well guarded by their team. Stybar did have a mechanical earlier on in the race but the Belgian outfit are leading from the front. Are they over-confident?
While we wait for the next bit of action, please head over to our new Vimeo page and check out our film trailer. Our 'Holy Week' video is out next week.
Degenkolb has made it back to the bunch after his bike change. No teammates for the former winner. He really is a decent bet for today though, if it comes down to a sprint from a small group. All he has to do is follow for now...
- 107km remaining from 257km
107km to go and the break's lead is down to 2'43 Katusha attack, as they try and anticipate the moves for later. Smart move but that Katusha rider will want company. The pace has eased at the front of the peloton.
And check out Sadhbh O'Shea's excellent interview with Dirk Demol on his famous Paris-Roubaix victory.
We thought the pace had eased but Sky aren't having any of it, and smash their way to the front. They've motored to the front and begin to set a furious pace, and here come EF Education. It's all about the Haveluy sector, and positioning is key. That's why Sky are trying to take control.
The break hit this crucial sector, and they immediately line out. The bunch are coming though, they're just 2'38 down. This is one of the hardest sectors. ****.
- 99km remaining from 257km
And Tony Martin moves to the front and sets the pace once more. He lines out the entire field as we head into the final 100km.
Mitchelton have lost two riders there in the fall. It's Trentin I think.
He's talking but still on the deck. That's a huge blow for the Australian team. And out of the sector the bunch ease up.
We're closing in on the iconic and crucial sector of the Trouée d'Arenberg.
The Arenberg is a ***** sector and can totally define the race. It's long, 2,4km, the cobbles are atrocious, and the speed the peloton hit the sector is incredible. You have to be well-placed otherwise it could be game over.
It looks like I'm using expletives when I'm putting down these sector ratings, doesn't it.
Trentin and Langeveld caught up in a crash on Haveluy. Looks like their races could be done. #ParisRoubaix
@SadhbhOS Sun, 8th Apr 2018 12:57:30
The break are about to hit the Forest.
Wallays leads the break onto the cobbles and the crowds are huge today. Here we go!
That grass on either side, is going to be so slippery. Riders wisely take the middle of the pave.
The bunch are closing in on the Forest. They're about a minute away.
The main field is down to 50 riders and we're sprinting into the forest. Sprinting.
Burghardt hits the front, Sagan with him.
The crash in the previous sector has thinned out the field dramatically before the Arenberg as Sagan takes his own line through the sector.
- 91km remaining from 257km
Demare is struggling again at the back of the bunch as Seiberg takes over at the front. And now there's an attack from Sunweb, and it's matched by Gilbert in the Arenberg. Bora immediately goes to cover this with Oss chasing.
Gilbert, I think it's him, has a gap with this Sunweb rider and it's growing and growing. No response from Sagan yet.
Out of the Forest and Kristoff is still there.
Pedersen and then Oss try and counter the Gilbert move and now BMC come to live and start to chase. They can't give Gilbert this amount of room. The gap is about 10 seconds as we see Gilbert start to take a huge turn.
At the head of the race we now have:
Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale), Gatis Smukulis (Delko Marseille Provence KTM) and Marc Soler (Movistar Team)
Gilbert has 12 seconds and Katusha send a rider up the road. That's not the best approach but the bunch is slowing.
It's Teunissen with Gilbert. This move could be crucial.
It's Politt who has gone clear for Katusha. Gilbert will want the company, and the extra horsepower, as Bora again set the pace with BMC. We hit the next sector at Hélesmes.
Gilbert and Teunissen have 20 seconds on the Sagan group, as Lotto Soudal fire a rider up the road. It's Pedersen who chases from the front of the vastly reduced peloton, with Demare, Neasen, Sagan, Terpstra and others in there. We've heard now that Thomas has crashed out of the race.
It's in Teunissen's and Gilbert's interests to work together here, and they take on board some food, have a quick conversation and then swap turns. The race is on.
Brecht Decaluwe chatted with Mike Teunissen at Scheldeprijs and at yesterday's team presentation: "Roubaix is the one that I mostly looked forward to. It’s the highest level though. From that perspective, I marked out Dwars door Vlaanderen as a more realistic target. Roubaix is the most beautiful race and the one that suits me the most. I’m looking forward to it,” Teunissen told Cyclingnews as the start of the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday.
"I won the U23 edition of Paris-Roubaix, probably five years ago. It’s nice to have it on my palmarès. It’s not to be compared with the pro version though. I rode Paris-Roubaix two times and never managed to be a feature in the race. It’s much longer and more tough but I know the roads."
And Politt has made contact with the Gilbert group as Wout Van Aert looks to spring a counter-attack. 82km to go.
Will Politt work? He's allowed to recover but Gilbert gives him a look that suggest he wants some support. A good move from the Katusha rider.
We're onto the Wandignies - the longest sector in the race, as we see Gilbert's group catch the first part of the early breakaway.
It looks as though Trek are setting the pace at the moment and trying to bring Gilbert back into contention, with Degenkolb doing the work for Stuyven. Sagan, Vanmarcke are just waiting and waiting, while Terpstra can just sit tight for now.
Still around 20 seconds for Gilbert, who has now added Soupe to his collection of friends.
And that looks like Stuyven lifting the pace as once again Demare struggles at the back and is starting to lose contact again. He's been on the back-foot throughout the race and each sector is just a nail in the coffin.
And now it's Stannard who lifts the pace. If anything Gilbert's move is weakening a number of teams but the gap is down to less than 10 seconds as we come to the end of the sector.
And Drucker has made contact with the Gilbert group. Surely he'll just sit on and be as disruptive as possible. That was a nice move from the BMC Racing rider.
- 74km remaining from 257km
Oss is back on the front and he's brought the Gilbert group back. All the favourites are together, with Oss starting to work but now Stybar has attacked. Oss just turns around and lets him go.
And the remnants of the early break hits the Brillon sector. We've 74km to go.
And again it's Trek who look to respond, and chase down Stybar who has opened up a gap all on his own. Second twice, is today his day?
Stybar has 30 seconds on the chase as two Trek riders continue to do all the work behind. At the front of the race it's Wallays who does the majority of the work but now Burghardt lifts the pace, and Sagan responds with Degenkolb but the move is countered by Quickstep. 71km to go and Stybar is closing on the leaders.
Sars-et-Rosières is **** and it's next up with the break starting the sector with 70km to go.
And Soler has been caught by Stybar on the sector, as a small Trek counter attack starts.
Soler is hanging onto Stybar as it looks like Degenkolb is coming over with two more riders. At the front of the bunch it's Haussler setting the pace.
Stybar now leaves Soler in the dust but he will not want Degenkolb making contact. That will surely kill the move.
Action from Tony Martin on the Sars-et-Rosières and Sagan is following. Quick-Step try and react but there are some tired legs in the race.
Soler is back with Stybar with 67km to go. There are four riders in the Degenkolb group, but it looks like the bunch are coming back. Degenkolb wants to keep the move going but it's almost all over.
Oss lifts the pace once more with the Degenkolb group caught. However, Stybar is still clear with Soler, with the four leaders 47 seconds ahead.
Onto the sector at Orchies and Stybar now drops Soler. He has 20 seconds on the favourites' group.
Martin again sets the pace at the front of the reduced peloton with 63km to go. Looking at the favourites, Terpstra still looks so, so fresh.
And there's a flat for Neasen. He has a man up the road but he'll have to chase back from this. We have just three men left in the break, Dillier, Bystrom and Wallays.
Oss is chased down after a short attack. Here are the remaining sectors in the race:
12 - Bersée (km 203 - 2.7 km) ****
11 - Mons-en-Pévèle (km 208.5 - 3 km) *****
10 - Avelin (km 214.5 - 0.7 km) **
9 - Ennevelin (km 218 - 1.4 km) ***
8 - Templeuve - L'Epinette (km 223.5 - 0.2 km) *
8 - Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain (km 224 - 0.5 km) **
7 - Cysoing (km 230.5 - 1.3 km) ***
6 - Bourghelles (km 233 - 1.1 km) ***
5 - Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 237.5 - 1.8 km) ****
4 - Carrefour de l'Arbre (km 240 - 2.1 km) *****
3 - Gruson (km 242.5 - 1.1 km) **
2 - Hem (km 249 - 1.4 km) ***
1 - Roubaix (km 256 - 0.3 km)
Stybar is looking back. His lead is holding but it's not unbridgeable at this stage. Sagan, Vanmarcke, Terpstra, they're all there and waiting for those final sectors of cobbles.
Stybar is being caught and it looks like Team Sky are bringing it back together. And we're on the Bersée sector. We just have three riders up the road, and then a large group of favourites. Quick-Step are not having it their own way today, and the race is well poised.
- 56km remaining from 257km
And it's Burghardt who lifts the pace, and it's Rowe who responds. The move is closed down and now it's Lotto Soudal who attack with Martin in hot pursuit with two other riders. This is a strong move, but no one from QS or Bora.
- 55km remaining from 257km
The Martin attack has been caught and with 55km to go there's an attack from BMC. It's Van Avermaet.
Terpstra chases, attack over.
Now Martin attacks, and Gilbert nullifies it.
And Van Avermaet attacks again. 55km to go. This a big attack and he has a gap but it's Van Aert who closes him down.
Although Van Avermaet didn't create a gap he did stretch the group and now Sagan has attacked.
- 54km remaining from 257km
54km to go and Sagan has attacked with 54km to go and it's really strong and well-timed acceleration.
Quick-Step have to chase this. They have the numbers.
Sagan is powering away from the favourites group and there's still no concerted chase from the rest of the group.
Sagan is about to catch the break with 51km to go. Meanwhile Stuyven has made a counter attack but there's nothing from Quick-Step.
Sagan has 21 seconds as he and the early break complete sector 14. Stuyven has now gone clear with Van Aert.
And now there's an attack from Taylor Phinney from EF Education. He's marked by AG2R.
So we have the early group and Sagan, and then a move of Van Aert and Stuyven and then the Quick-Step led peloton.
- 47km remaining from 257km
There's a huge crash, and Martin and Rowe, and Kristoff are all down. That was right in the middle of the peloton. I can't see any of them coming back.
47km to go and on Mons-en-Pévèle, Sagan has 48 seconds.
- 45km remaining from 257km
Sagan is driving the pace as Terpstra and Vanmarcke attack near the end of the Mons-en-Pévèle sector.
The gap to Sagan is 40 seconds and Terpstra has to react. He has brought a group with him that contains Gilbert, Phinney, Vanmarcke and two others.
The Terpstra group is closing on the Stuyven and Van Aert. Sagan is caught in a position where he has to drive this early break along and hope that they can survive for as long as possible. He can't drive too hard too soon.
Onto sector 10 and Van Avermaet is away with Phinney with 40km to go. Sagan is now dragging Dillier and Wallays with him. Bystrom has popped.
Van Avermaet and Phinney are now back with the Stuyven group.
- 37km remaining from 257km
Sagan now has 56 seconds on the Van Avermaet, Terpstra, van Aert, Stuyven, Phinney group.
AGR2 are chasing from the next group.
The Van Avermaet group only have nine seconds on the next group but Sagan has 59 seconds, and that's a huge gap to give the World champion.
- 33km remaining from 257km
The Terpstra/Van Avermaet group have found a few more seconds on the Gilbert group but the race is still so tightly poised. Sagan still has 59 seconds with 33km to go.
At the head of the race Sagan, Wallays and Dillier lead but it's the world champion who is doing most the work. Both AG2R and Lotto-Soudal would take a podium at this point, so they have to commit whatever they have left.
Were onto sector 8 now with 32km to go. Sagan leads. Is he heading for his second Monument?
And as the Terpstra group hit the same sector, the Quick-Step rider takes a huge pull on the front of the group. He reduces Sagan's lead to 46 seconds with 31km to go. With two riders in the break, EF have to commit to the chase as well.
Sagan has a problem with his stem and it needs attention. Not ideal at this point in the race but he still manages to come through and take his turn on the front of the break.
And the Van Avermaet/Terpstra group have almost a minute on the Gilbert group. Sagan's lead holds at around 50 seconds with 26km to go.
- 25km remaining from 257km
And we're onto sector seven of Cysoing, and it's Sagan who once again moves to the front. He's ridden the perfect race so far, but how much does he have left in the tank. and Wallays has cracked.
Diller is just going to sit there now and hold on for as long as possible. The gap is 1'02 and Sagan knows that he has to do this almost entirely on his own.
It's Terpstra and Stuyven who are doing most of the chasing at the front of the second group, as the lead goes out to 1'10 with 24km to go.
- 22km remaining from 257km
Sagan is ticking through the cobble sectors as he heads to the velodrome. Dillier is still there but surely he must be a spent force, but the AG2R rider is still working. The gap is at 1'24 now. 22km to go.
Diller is gritting is teeth. He knows that if he can hold Sagan until Carrefour de l'Arbre then a podium place is surely his.
And it goes out to 1'25. Dillier takes another turn as we approach the Camphin-en-Pévèle. 20km to go.
Onto sector five and Dillier leads Sagan. The chase group have to respond, if they can. There' no time to lose.
And it's Phinney who leads the chase group onto sector five. The American is having a great race. The gap, however, is holding at 1'27.
We're almost at the end of the sector, with the Carrefour de l'Arbre the biggest obstacle remaining.
Sylvain Dillier's never finished Roubaix before. He could still win it #ParisRoubaix2018
@petercossins Sun, 8th Apr 2018 14:50:10
And Van Aert has a mechanical with 17km to go as Phinney commits to riding for Vanmarcke but here goes Terpstra, the gap at 1'23.
Vanmarcke marks Terpstra but Van Avermaet has lost ground.
And onto the Carrefour de l'Arbre the gap is at 1'15.
Sagan takes over, Dillier is giving it everything to hold on. 1'12 now.
Sagan want to win alone, and he's going for it on this sector in a bid to shed the AG2R rider.
- 14km remaining from 257km
Dillier is holding on, but Sagan pushes again. The AG2R rider is giving it everything as Terpstra, leads Vanmarcke, Stuyven, and Van Avermaet. These riders will decide the podium.
And the sector is complete. Can Dillier win this? He has a chance, and will finish second at least unless there's a dramatic change in the race. 14km to go, the gap at 1'04.
- 13km remaining from 257km
And Dillier takes the first turn in a while. Just two sectors remaining and the gap is under a minute for the first time in a while. 13km to go.
56 seconds for the two leaders, Dillier has been out there for around 200km but he's in with a chance of winning Paris-Roubaix. Nothing is certain here, we saw what happened with Hayman and Boonen two years ago.
The gap is coming down, it's at 46 seconds. on the flat roads the chasing quartet are working well together.
- 10km remaining from 257km
We're into the final 10km of the race and the gap is at 46 seconds.
43 seconds. It's coming down as they hit sector 2.
The two leaders share a few words, surely they know that they can decide the race as long as they hit the final few kms together.
Dillier is no pushover, having won a stage in the Giro last year. It's Sagan who leads onto the penultimate sector and the gap goes back out to 51 seconds.
- 6km remaining from 257km
6km to go. The gap is at 54 seconds.
Dillier gives Sagan a look, and comes through and takes another turn. He's put everything into this, and has matched Sagan pedal stroke for pedal stroke.
Into the final 5km of Paris-Roubaix and it's going to be between Sagan and Dillier.
Sagan is blowing, he's made a huge effort today but surely he's the fastest in a sprint on the velodrome. 4km to go.
The chase look a spent force but they'll fight it out for the final step of the podium.
And the gap goes out to almost a minute. 59 seconds, with 3.4km to go.
- 2km remaining from 257km
W'ere about to swing right and head into the velodrome, Sagan once again leads.
And it's going to be Dillier who leads into the velodrome.
Dillier looks back and watches Sagan, he moves to the high end of the banking. One lap to go.
Peter Sagan looks ready to pounce.
200m to go.
Sagan dives, down and hits the front. What can Dillier do?
Peter Sagan wins the 2018 Paris-Roubaix.
And it's Niki Terpstra who takes the final spot on the podium.
You can find our brief report, results, and photos, right here.
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 05:54:06
2 Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
3 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:57
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:01:34
5 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
7 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:02:31
8 Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
9 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
10 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
"This is amazing," Sagan said in a post-race flash interview. "I have to say that this year, I was never involved in a crash, I never flat tired, I saved energy and then just did one step forward; I attacked. I kept going until the finish.
"I, now, stayed much better this year than in all the other years that I have finished Paris-Roubaix, where I was much more tired than today.
"I am very happy. I have to say thank you to all my teammates because they did a great job. They kept the group all together from the start. I did my winning move with 50km to go and I'm very happy to come first. It's an amazing feeling."
At this point I'm reminded of Bjørge Lillelien and his famous commentary after Norway thumbed England. Replace Winston Churchill et al with Boonen, Terpstra, and you'll get the picture.
More riders are coming over the line, so we're updating our results as we go. Here's the latest.
I'm sorry we've not been able to bring you more information on the health of Michael Goolaerts. There were a number of falls in the race, and the action was non-stop today. We also don't want to flood the internet with unverified information and makes things worse for his family, and teammates. All we know at the moment is that the rider has been taken to hospital and will undergo scans. The story is obviously developing and I'm sure you've seen replayed footage of the crash on the internet. We have story on the site with the information we do have but of course we send our thoughts and prayers to Goolaerts, his family, friends and teammates.
ASO's Christian Prudhomme is at the finish and he has said regarding Goolaerts: "Paris-Roubaix is a day of strong sporting emotions but they are naturally dampened by an incident like this. We are awaiting further news. My thoughts are with his family."
Around about now we would normally start using our live coverage to post images from the finish, and the riders at Roubaix. It doesn't seem like the right moment to do that, as we continue to wait for more news on Goolaerts. If you wish to read our report, and catch up on the race, please click here.
Veranda's Willems have posted a message on Twitter:
"No update on Michael Goolaerts yet. We kindly ask to refrain from speculation as we wait for an update on his situation. Our thoughts are with his family and friends now. Thank you for the kind messages."
Peter Sagan, who of course would not have known about the crash or the seriousness of the situation, has said this in his press conference:
"I heard about it and I’m very sorry for him. I heard after the race. I’m sorry for him. I don’t know if he is stable or not."
Dillier has added this:
"I just heard a guy crashed very badly. I don’t really know much about it, but it’s a very serious situation. It’s sad that stuff like this happens in cycling. We’re competing but we want to compete safely. I’m very sorry to hear this."
A reminder of our top-10 today. We'll have full results up on the website shortly.
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 5:54:06
2 Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
3 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:57
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:01:34
5 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
7 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:31
8 Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
9 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
10 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
Complete results are now online, and within our report. They're right here.