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Photo gallery: Carnage on the cobbles

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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) crashed and couldn't get a new bike because his team car had flatted.

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) crashed and couldn't get a new bike because his team car had flatted.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Maarten Neyens (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on the ground after his Paris-Roubaix crash

Maarten Neyens (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on the ground after his Paris-Roubaix crash
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Dmytro Krivtsov (Lampre-ISD) tries to get going again on the cobbles

Dmytro Krivtsov (Lampre-ISD) tries to get going again on the cobbles
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Medics attend to Maarten Neyens

Medics attend to Maarten Neyens
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Jonathan Castroviejo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) takes stock of his injuries

Jonathan Castroviejo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) takes stock of his injuries
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bjorn Leukemans was battered by three different crashes.

Bjorn Leukemans was battered by three different crashes.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Even Fabian Cancellara, "superman" was exhaused after Paris-Roubaix.

Even Fabian Cancellara, "superman" was exhaused after Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Dominic Klemme (Leopard Trek) doing a little bit of pavement surfing.

Dominic Klemme (Leopard Trek) doing a little bit of pavement surfing.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Saur Sojasun's Rony Martias, already sporting bandages from a previous crash, broke his fork right off his bike.

Saur Sojasun's Rony Martias, already sporting bandages from a previous crash, broke his fork right off his bike.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Many of the crashes came on the paved roads in between the cobbled sectors.

Many of the crashes came on the paved roads in between the cobbled sectors.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Adam Hansen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets a wheel change.

Adam Hansen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets a wheel change.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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It's a long, dangerous chase back on the cobbles, but a bottle-sling from the team car helps.

It's a long, dangerous chase back on the cobbles, but a bottle-sling from the team car helps.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Even those who finish the race need help - John Degenkolb examines the effects the cobbles had on his hands.

Even those who finish the race need help - John Degenkolb examines the effects the cobbles had on his hands.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Baden Cooke has a Coke and rues his broken cleat.

Baden Cooke has a Coke and rues his broken cleat.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mathew Hayman looks more like a coal miner than bike racer after Paris-Roubaix.

Mathew Hayman looks more like a coal miner than bike racer after Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) with a thick muck mask after a dry and dusty Paris-Roubaix.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) with a thick muck mask after a dry and dusty Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Gorazd Stangelj (Astana) probably wondering where he went wrong.

Gorazd Stangelj (Astana) probably wondering where he went wrong.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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AG2R's Swiss champion Martin Elmiger coated in grime.

AG2R's Swiss champion Martin Elmiger coated in grime.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Kevin Ista (Cofidis) displays remarkable helmet hair and grime lines.

Kevin Ista (Cofidis) displays remarkable helmet hair and grime lines.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel apparently used up all his luck in Belgium, and crashed several times.

Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel apparently used up all his luck in Belgium, and crashed several times.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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One of three crashes which involved Vacansoleil's Bjorn Leukemans.

One of three crashes which involved Vacansoleil's Bjorn Leukemans.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen finally got a new bike and a push from the team mechanic.

Tom Boonen finally got a new bike and a push from the team mechanic.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas came to grief on the Arenberg forest.

Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas came to grief on the Arenberg forest.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Mavic neutral support car is there for when the team car isn't.

The Mavic neutral support car is there for when the team car isn't.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mavic provides neutral support, and there was plenty of need in Paris-Roubaix.

Mavic provides neutral support, and there was plenty of need in Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A good teammate stops to give a wheel to his captain.

A good teammate stops to give a wheel to his captain.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Kurt Alse-Arvesen (Sky) at least had a soft landing on this spill.

Kurt Alse-Arvesen (Sky) at least had a soft landing on this spill.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A Team NetApp rider falls into a recently ploughed field.

A Team NetApp rider falls into a recently ploughed field.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Photographers snapping, fans shouting, Boonen gets pushed back into the action.

Photographers snapping, fans shouting, Boonen gets pushed back into the action.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen had a problem with his bike in the Arenberg forest that left him stranded for what seemed an eternity.

Tom Boonen had a problem with his bike in the Arenberg forest that left him stranded for what seemed an eternity.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen's woes multiplied when he had a crash on pave sector 14

Tom Boonen's woes multiplied when he had a crash on pave sector 14
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad) shows a bit of the French countryside on his face.

John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad) shows a bit of the French countryside on his face.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

258 kilometres, 51.5 of which are the most primitive stretches of road that professional cyclists will ever face. That Paris-Roubaix is brutal is an unquestioned fact.

Even on an unusually warm, dry spring day, the ancient pavé proves treacherous. Rather than slick with mud, they become covered in talc-like dust that lead to sudden, unexpected and sometimes devastating crashes.

On the smooth, straight sections of pavement riders still aren't safe. A moment of inattention from one rider and three tumble down. Damage that started on the cobbles suddenly erupts into flat tires, broken wheels, broken bikes, broken bodies.

Even those lucky enough to make it to the velodrome in Roubaix, those who hadn't crashed, face days of recovery from muscles battered by jackhammering over the pavé and spent hacking up half the French countryside from their lungs.

It's all part of what goes into making Paris-Roubaix one of the most prestigious and desirable victories a professional rider can ever achieve - it's a tale of survival, perseverance and triumph.

As celebrated as the winner may be, the achievement would be nothing without his foes, so our gallery today is dedicated to the brave men who fell afoul of fate and failed to step onto that podium, wave flowers and hoist up trophies.

Saur Sojasun's Rony Martias, already sporting bandages from a previous crash, broke his fork right off his bike. Photo: Bettini

Kevin Ista (Cofidis) displays remarkable helmet hair and grime lines. Photo: Sirotti