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The faces of a muddy Paris-Roubaix - Gallery

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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Detailed view of Sonny Colbrelli of Italy and Team Bahrain Victorious covered in mud celebrates winning in the Roubaix Velodrome Vlodrome Andr Ptrieux after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Bernard Papon PoolGetty Images

Sonny Colbrelli absorbing the moment (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Denain Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Stefan Bissegger SUI EF Education Nippo photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

Stefan Bissegger's bright pink EF-Nippo kit is barely visible (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Gianni Moscon of Italy and Team INEOS Grenadiers covered in mud attacks in the breakaway through cobblestones sector during the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers) makes what seemed to be the winning move (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Denain Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Nils Eekhoff NED Team DSM photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

Nils Eekhoff (Team DSM) covered in mud (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Denain Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Alexander Kristoff NOR UAE Team Emirates photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

That's Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) behind the mud mask (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Compiegne Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Sonny Colbrelli ITA Bahrain Victorious photo Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2021

The podium placers of Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), before the oder was decided (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Sonny Colbrelli of Italy and Team Bahrain Victorious covered in mud competes in the breakaway during the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Colbrelli leading the way (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Sonny Colbrelli of Italy and Team Bahrain Victorious covered in mud celebrates winning ahead of Florian Vermeersch of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal and Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix in the Roubaix Velodrome Vlodrome Andr Ptrieux during the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Colbrelli comes through the middle to capture the win, celebrating while a worn Van der Poel bows his head in disappointment (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 -118th Edition - Denain - Roubaix 257,7 km - 03/10/2021 - Sonny Colbrelli (ITA - Bahrain Victorious) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

A wave of emotion hits Sonny Colbrelli (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Compiegne Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Sonny Colbrelli ITA Bahrain Victorious photo Pool Etienne GarnierBettiniPhoto2021

Sonny Colbrelli (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Sonny Colbrelli of Italy and Team Bahrain Victorious covered in mud celebrates winning in the Roubaix Velodrome Vlodrome Andr Ptrieux after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Etienne Garnier PoolGetty Images

Colbrelli laughing, crying or perhaps both at the same time (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 -118th Edition - Denain - Roubaix 257,7 km - 03/10/2021 - Sonny Colbrelli (ITA - Bahrain Victorious) - photo Etienne Garnier/BettiniPhoto©2021.

The grass of Roubaix welcomed many exhausted riders on Sunday, but none before Colbrelli (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Florian Vermeersch of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal covered in mud cries after second place finish in the Roubaix Velodrome Vlodrome Andr Ptrieux during the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Bernard Papon PoolGetty Images

Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) ... so close. (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Compiegne Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Mathieu Van Der Poel NED AlpecinFenix photo POOL Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2021

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): "Even though it was my first edition I feel it’s one for the history books and never to forget." (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Firstplaced Bahrain Victorious Sonny Colbrelli L celebrates after crossing the finish to win the 118th edition of the ParisRoubaix oneday classic cycling race between Compiegne and Roubaix in the Velodrome stadium in Roubaix northern France on October 3 2021 Photo by Bernard PAPON various sources AFP Photo by BERNARD PAPONAFP via Getty Images

Sonny Colbrelli gets a hug from Heinrich Haussler who – racing in his 14th Paris-Roubaix – made it into the top ten (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Denain Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Sonny Colbrelli ITA Bahrain Victorious Heinrich Haussler AUS Bahrain Victorious photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

Teammates Haussler and Colbrelli (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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AG2R Citroen Team Stan Dewulf from Belgium reacts on the finishing area after competing in the 118th edition of the ParisRoubaix oneday classic cycling race between Compiegne and Roubaix in the Velodrome stadium in Roubaix northern France on October 3 2021 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT POOL AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATPOOLAFP via Getty Images

Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Trek Segafredo Jasper Stuyven from Belgium reacts on the finishing area after competing in the 118th edition of the ParisRoubaix oneday classic cycling race between Compiegne and Roubaix in the Velodrome stadium in Roubaix northern France on October 3 2021 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT POOL AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATPOOLAFP via Getty Images

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Jumbo Visma Wout Van Aert from Bellgium reacts on the finishing area after competing in the 118th edition of the ParisRoubaix oneday classic cycling race between Compiegne and Roubaix in the Velodrome stadium in Roubaix northern France on October 3 2021 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT various sources AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) clears the mud from his eyes (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Compiegne Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Wout Van Aert BEL Jumbo Visma photo POOL Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2021

Wout van Aert, who finished seventh, took his glasses off during the race: "That might have been the wrong choice." (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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AG2R Citroen Team Greg Van Avermaet from Belgium reacts on the finishing area after competing in the 118th edition of the ParisRoubaix oneday classic cycling race between Compiegne and Roubaix in the Velodrome stadium in Roubaix northern France on October 3 2021 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT various sources AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Greg van Avermaet has raced Paris-Roubaix 11 times and won it once but this was his first wet one (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Compiegne Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Greg Van Avermaet BEL AG2R Citroen Team photo POOL Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2021

Greg van Avermaet ended up finishing 32nd (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Czech Zdenek Stybar of Deceuninck QuickStep pictured after the men elite race of the ParisRoubaix cycling event 2577km from Compiegne to Roubaix France on Sunday 03 October 2021 BELGA PHOTO POOL TIM DE WAELE Photo by POOL TIM DE WAELEBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-Quickstep) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Team Qhubeka Nexthash Maximilian Richard Walscheid from Germany reacts on the finishing area after competing in the 118th edition of the ParisRoubaix oneday classic cycling race between Compiegne and Roubaix in the Velodrome stadium in Roubaix northern France on October 3 2021 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT various sources AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Max Walscheid collapsed on the infield, having survived more than one crash (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 LR Zdenek Stybar of Czech Republic and Team Deceuninck QuickStep and John Degenkolb of Germany and Team Lotto Soudal covered in mud pose for a photograph after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal) found a reason to smile (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Jasper Stuyven of Belgium and Team Trek Segafredo covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) after finishing 25th (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Christophe Laporte of France and Team Cofidis covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) made it to the finish despite having mechanical problems, at some stages of the race using his foot on the rear wheel to brake (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 EDITORS NOTE Image contains graphic content An injury of Max Walscheid of Germany and Team Qhubeka Nexthash covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Blood dripping from Max Walscheid's elbow, with the Qhubeka Nexthash rider finishing 12th despite the damage (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Detailed view of broken glove of Max Walscheid of Germany Team Qhubeka Nexthash covered with mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Max Walscheid's hand (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Ivan Garcia Cortina of Spain and Movistar Team covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Ivan Garcia Cortina (Movistar) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Toms Skujins of Latvia and Team Trek Segafredo covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Arnaud Demare of France and Team Groupama FDJ covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) seemed upbeat after making it over the line in 34th place (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Michal Golas of Poland and Team INEOS Grenadiers covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

A memorable race to retire on for Michal Golas (Ineos) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Michal Golas of Poland and Team INEOS Grenadiers covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Laugh about (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Michal Golas of Poland and Team INEOS Grenadiers covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

And reflect on. (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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ROUBAIX, FRANCE - OCTOBER 03: Guillaume Boivin of Canada and Team Israel Start-Up Nation covered in mud after the 118th Paris-Roubaix 2021 - Men's Eilte a 257,7km race from Compiègne to Roubaix / #ParisRoubaix / on October 03, 2021 in Roubaix, France. (Photo by Fred Mons - Pool/Getty Images)

Guillaume Boivin put in a huge ride (Image credit: Getty Images)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Tom Bohli of Switzerland and Team Cofidis covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Fred Mons PoolGetty Images

Some were able to muster a smile (Image credit: Getty Images)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Detailed view of Sonny Colbrelli of Italy and Team Bahrain Victorious covered in mud celebrates winning in the Roubaix Velodrome Vlodrome Andr Ptrieux after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Bernard Papon PoolGetty Images

The winner with mud everywhere (Image credit: Getty Images)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix covered in mud disappointed by his third place after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Bernard Papon PoolGetty Images

Van der Poel soaks up the disappointment (Image credit: Getty Images)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Anthony Turgis of France and Team Total Energies covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Anthony Turgis (Image credit: Getty Images)
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ROUBAIX, FRANCE - OCTOBER 03: Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team Alpecin-Fenix covered in mud disappointed by his third place after the 118th Paris-Roubaix 2021 - Men's Eilte a 257,7km race from Compiègne to Roubaix / #ParisRoubaix / on October 03, 2021 in Roubaix, France. (Photo by Fred Mons - Pool/Getty Images)

Van der Poel at the finish (Image credit: Getty Images)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Bert Van Lerberghe of Belgium and Team Deceuninck QuickStep covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Bert Van Lergberghe (Image credit: Getty Images)
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ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Max Walscheid of Germany and Team Qhubeka Nexthash covered in mud after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Max Walscheid had a rough day out (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Denain Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Sonny Colbrelli ITA Bahrain Victorious Mathieu Van Der Poel NED AlpecinFenix Florian Vermeersch BEL Lotto Soudal photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

The podium with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) first, Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) in second and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) in third (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Firstplaced Bahrain Victorious Sonny Colbrelli from Italy celebrates on the podium after competing in the 118th edition of the ParisRoubaix oneday classic cycling race between Compiegne and Roubaix northern France on October 3 2021 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Sonny Colbrelli overcome with emotion on the podium (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Paris Roubaix 2021 118th Edition Denain Roubaix 2577 km 03102021 Sonny Colbrelli ITA Bahrain Victorious photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

A day to remember for just more than Sonny Colbrelli (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Paris-Roubaix is no normal race, with the titles of 'Queen of the Classics' and 'Hell of the North' only worthy of one with the toughest of reputations. Even by those standards, this was no normal Sunday in hell.

A coating of mud soon made the usually multicoloured mass of riders a uniform brown, the decisive moves came early while both the smooth roads and challenging cobbles were at times as slippery as skating rinks and home to crash after crash.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) emerged through all this, in his first Paris-Roubaix, as the victor. The 31-year-old made it into the right move and then, when in it, stuck to the wheel of a master of muddy conditions, world cyclo-cross champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). 

As a result, Colbrelli rode into the hallowed Roubaix velodrome in a group of three, at that stage almost guaranteed a podium spot alongside Van der Poel and Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal). Through the mud and cobbles, the sprinter Colbrelli had now moved into the territory that played to his strengths as the trio vied for the top step, although there was no telling what could happen in a dash for the line after the arduous 258 kilometres the trio of race debutants had experienced in hellish conditions.

The youngest went first, with 22-year-old Vermeersch launching from behind with a half a lap to go and surging ahead. Colbrelli and Van der Poel were closing on the right, the trio lined up beside each other as they charged through the final metres and then the experienced Italian managed to hit the front just when he needed to. 

There was no mistaking the depth of Colbrelli’s emotion at capturing the victory. Excitedly leaping off his bike and holding it into the air and then crashing to the ground with exhaustion-filled, yet joyful, sobs as the gravity of the moment washed over him. Colbrelli, after all, had just taken the biggest win of his career in a dramatic edition of the Paris-Roubaix that will be long remembered. 

Click or swipe through our gallery of photos above to see the mud, pain and joy on the faces of the riders after the first wet Paris-Roubaix since 2002. You can also find a gallery filled with action from out on the road in our race report.

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