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O'Grady the great!

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A picture-perfect moment

A picture-perfect moment
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Boonen lead his group

Boonen lead his group
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Leukemans leads the chasers

Leukemans leads the chasers
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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The peloton

The peloton
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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O'Grady lead the early break

O'Grady lead the early break
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Wesemann on the attack

Wesemann on the attack
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Putting in the effort

Putting in the effort
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Kiss the cobble!

Kiss the cobble!
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Stuart O'Grady (CSC) wins the 105th Paris-Roubaix

Stuart O'Grady (CSC) wins the 105th Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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O'Grady has time to celebrate as he rounds the velodrome solo

O'Grady has time to celebrate as he rounds the velodrome solo
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Stuart O'Grady the first Australian to win Paris-Roubaix

Stuart O'Grady the first Australian to win Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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O'Grady shows the determination that allowed him to win

O'Grady shows the determination that allowed him to win
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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O'Grady concentrates on one of the final cobbled sectors

O'Grady concentrates on one of the final cobbled sectors
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Crashes were frequent even in the dry conditions

Crashes were frequent even in the dry conditions
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fabio Baldato (Lampre) rode a solid race

Fabio Baldato (Lampre) rode a solid race
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A picture-perfect moment

A picture-perfect moment
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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O'Grady and his cobble

O'Grady and his cobble
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Flecha takes second

Flecha takes second
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Boonen leads his group

Boonen leads his group
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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O'Grady had tons of time to enjoy the moment

O'Grady had tons of time to enjoy the moment
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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The traditional salute

The traditional salute
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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O'Grady points upwards

O'Grady points upwards
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Not sure whether to laugh, cry or scream with joy

Not sure whether to laugh, cry or scream with joy
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Stuey shows the exhaustion of 259km

Stuey shows the exhaustion of 259km
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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O'Grady grits his teeth

O'Grady grits his teeth
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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O'Grady making his move on the cobbles

O'Grady making his move on the cobbles
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Kevin van Impe (Quickstep) covered in dust

Kevin van Impe (Quickstep) covered in dust
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Devolder at the front of a chasing bunch

Devolder at the front of a chasing bunch
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Leif Hoste (Predictor-Lotto)

Leif Hoste (Predictor-Lotto)
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Leukemans leads the chasers on the velodrome

Leukemans leads the chasers on the velodrome
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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O'Grady hoists the cobble trophy

O'Grady hoists the cobble trophy
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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O'Grady gets support from his crew

O'Grady gets support from his crew
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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There's nothing like it the first moments after the biggest win in O'Grady's career

There's nothing like it the first moments after the biggest win in O'Grady's career
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
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Putting in the effort like no one else, O'Grady powers to the win

Putting in the effort like no one else, O'Grady powers to the win
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Roberto Petito (Liquigas) was the best placed Italian

Roberto Petito (Liquigas) was the best placed Italian
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Michelsen crashes!

Michelsen crashes!
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Michelsen (CSC) hit the deck after switching to a bike with deep rims…

Michelsen (CSC) hit the deck after switching to a bike with deep rims…
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Enrico Franzoi (Lampre) with jersey unzipped - unusual for a spring classic!

Enrico Franzoi (Lampre) with jersey unzipped - unusual for a spring classic!
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Yes! O'Grady did it!

Yes! O'Grady did it!
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Kisses for the winner

Kisses for the winner
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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O'Grady and family

O'Grady and family
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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O'Grady covered in dust from the dry conditions

O'Grady covered in dust from the dry conditions
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Chasers come through the Arenberg sector

Chasers come through the Arenberg sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Franzoi in the Arenberg forest

Franzoi in the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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O'Grady trying to return after flatting in Arenberg

O'Grady trying to return after flatting in Arenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Wesemann on the attack in Arenberg

Wesemann on the attack in Arenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lars Michaelsen rides next to Boonen in Arenberg

Lars Michaelsen rides next to Boonen in Arenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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O'Grady with a look of pure satisfaction

O'Grady with a look of pure satisfaction
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Kiss the cobble! O'Grady puckers up

Kiss the cobble! O'Grady puckers up
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Flecha, O'Grady and Wesemann on the podium

Flecha, O'Grady and Wesemann on the podium
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ballan heads to sign in

Ballan heads to sign in
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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O'Grady leads the escape of more than 30 riders

O'Grady leads the escape of more than 30 riders
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The bunch kicks up dust

The bunch kicks up dust
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton reaches the first cobbled sector, Troisvilles

The peloton reaches the first cobbled sector, Troisvilles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Clear blue skies above the peloton

Clear blue skies above the peloton
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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O'Grady spent a lot of time on the front

O'Grady spent a lot of time on the front
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Predictor-Lotto lead the peloton

Predictor-Lotto lead the peloton
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riders try to find a smooth spot to ride

Riders try to find a smooth spot to ride
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton strung out on the cobbles

The peloton strung out on the cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Dusty, dry and hot unusual conditions for the Hell of the North

Dusty, dry and hot unusual conditions for the Hell of the North
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lars Michaelsen leading the chase for Cancellara

Lars Michaelsen leading the chase for Cancellara
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Wesemann leads Magnus Backstedt before the big Swede punctured and was dropped

Wesemann leads Magnus Backstedt before the big Swede punctured and was dropped
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) brings up the rear

Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) brings up the rear
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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O'Grady alone on the cobblestones

O'Grady alone on the cobblestones
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tom Boonen (Quickstep) looking concentrated

Tom Boonen (Quickstep) looking concentrated
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The bunch kicks up dust on the cobbles

The bunch kicks up dust on the cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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O'Grady leads the peloton ahead of Cancellara

O'Grady leads the peloton ahead of Cancellara
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Boonen in the chasing bunch behind Burghardt

Boonen in the chasing bunch behind Burghardt
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) didn't show the form of Flanders

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) didn't show the form of Flanders
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Pozzato (Liquigas) was unlucky in the race

Pozzato (Liquigas) was unlucky in the race
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof) had a great race, and a bit of revenge on his former team

Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof) had a great race, and a bit of revenge on his former team
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Flecha follows Wesemann in the chase group

Flecha follows Wesemann in the chase group
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Roberto Petito (Liquigas) is interviewed

Roberto Petito (Liquigas) is interviewed
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Enrico Franzoi (Lampre) collapses with exhaustion and disappointment

Enrico Franzoi (Lampre) collapses with exhaustion and disappointment
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Filip Meirhaeghe (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) before the races starts.

Filip Meirhaeghe (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) before the races starts.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Peter Van Petegem (Quickstep-Innergetic) rolls up to the start.

Peter Van Petegem (Quickstep-Innergetic) rolls up to the start.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic) ready for Roubaix.

Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic) ready for Roubaix.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) has some injuries taken care of.

Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) has some injuries taken care of.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Pavé puts the 'hell' in the Hell of the North.

Pavé puts the 'hell' in the Hell of the North.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Fans having a good time on a warm Sunday in France.

Fans having a good time on a warm Sunday in France.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) powers along.

Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) powers along.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Luke Roberts (Team CSC) helped O'Grady to the win.

Luke Roberts (Team CSC) helped O'Grady to the win.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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The peloton hammers through sector 25.

The peloton hammers through sector 25.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Photographers ready for O'Grady's arrival.

Photographers ready for O'Grady's arrival.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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O'Grady wins on the Roubaix velodrome.

O'Grady wins on the Roubaix velodrome.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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A kiss from Mrs. O'Grady.

A kiss from Mrs. O'Grady.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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O'Grady has left his mark in Paris-Roubaix but also on his wife's forehead.

O'Grady has left his mark in Paris-Roubaix but also on his wife's forehead.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Scott Sunderland pleased with his rider's win.

Scott Sunderland pleased with his rider's win.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) finds his way to the showers.

Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) finds his way to the showers.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) did another huge day, following on last Sunday's Ronde.

Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) did another huge day, following on last Sunday's Ronde.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) crashed during the day.

Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) crashed during the day.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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O'Grady celebrates.

O'Grady celebrates.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof-Felt) finished third.

Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof-Felt) finished third.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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CSC takes a victory lap.

CSC takes a victory lap.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) cleaning up after finishing 2nd.

Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) cleaning up after finishing 2nd.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Servais Knaven (T-Mobile) in the showers.

Servais Knaven (T-Mobile) in the showers.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Maarten Den Bakker (Skil-Shimano) looked like he enjoyed his day.

Maarten Den Bakker (Skil-Shimano) looked like he enjoyed his day.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Julian Dean (Crédit Agricole) was part of the early escape but at the end of the day missed the race's time cut.

Julian Dean (Crédit Agricole) was part of the early escape but at the end of the day missed the race's time cut.
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Rick Flens (Rabobank) cleans up after the race

Rick Flens (Rabobank) cleans up after the race
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Ronde winner Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) signs before the race.

Ronde winner Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) signs before the race.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Discovery bike.

Discovery bike.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Clearance is big on the Discovery Channel front end.

Clearance is big on the Discovery Channel front end.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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The back suspension on the Discovery Channel bikes.

The back suspension on the Discovery Channel bikes.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Fumiyuki Beppu (Discovery Channel) is interviewed before Hell.

Fumiyuki Beppu (Discovery Channel) is interviewed before Hell.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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GPS unit on Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram) bike.

GPS unit on Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram) bike.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Steel fork on the Colnago of Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram).

Steel fork on the Colnago of Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram).
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram) waits for his Sunday in Hell.

Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram) waits for his Sunday in Hell.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Peter Van Petegem (Quickstep-Innergetic) smiles at the start.

Peter Van Petegem (Quickstep-Innergetic) smiles at the start.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) prepares.

Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) prepares.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Ready for a day in Hell.

Ready for a day in Hell.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic) relaxing.

Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic) relaxing.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Boonen's bike at the start line.

Boonen's bike at the start line.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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11 is the number the 2005 winner will use.

11 is the number the 2005 winner will use.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Start line of the 105th Paris-Roubaix.

Start line of the 105th Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile).

Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile).
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) smiles.

Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) smiles.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Paolo Fornaciari (Lampre-Fondital) eats before the start.

Paolo Fornaciari (Lampre-Fondital) eats before the start.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) is concentrated.

Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) is concentrated.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Boonen checks his bike.

Boonen checks his bike.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Arkaitz Durán of Saunier Duval.

Arkaitz Durán of Saunier Duval.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Charm on the helmet of Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).

Charm on the helmet of Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) is ready.

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) is ready.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Leon Van Bon (Rabobank) at the hot start in Compiègne.

Leon Van Bon (Rabobank) at the hot start in Compiègne.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) rode well in Gent-Wevelgem but was an early abandon in Roubaix.

Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) rode well in Gent-Wevelgem but was an early abandon in Roubaix.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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The sectors are marked on many riders' stems.

The sectors are marked on many riders' stems.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Eddy Merckx supplies the bikes for Belgian team Chocolade Jacques.

Eddy Merckx supplies the bikes for Belgian team Chocolade Jacques.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Special brakes allowing the riders maintain a comfortable hand position.

Special brakes allowing the riders maintain a comfortable hand position.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Mechanics carefully drill through the steam to fit cantilever brakes for extra clearance.

Mechanics carefully drill through the steam to fit cantilever brakes for extra clearance.
(Image credit: Hell of the North)
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Marcus Burghart (T-Mobile) salutes his fans before the start in Compiegne.

Marcus Burghart (T-Mobile) salutes his fans before the start in Compiegne.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Eventual winner Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) on the road to victory.

Eventual winner Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) on the road to victory.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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A lot of fans for Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) after his victory in the Tour of Flanders one week ago.

A lot of fans for Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) after his victory in the Tour of Flanders one week ago.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Not a good day for bikes...

Not a good day for bikes...
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Peter Van Petegem (Quick.Step) would be a great domestique on the cobbles for Tom Boonen.

Peter Van Petegem (Quick.Step) would be a great domestique on the cobbles for Tom Boonen.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Tom Boonen was looking relaxed before the start.

Tom Boonen was looking relaxed before the start.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Sarah Gillow (AIS Australia Women

Sarah Gillow (AIS Australia Women
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan National Team) crashes heavily on a slippery descent, as did defending champion Amber Halliday (bike but not rider pictured).

Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan National Team) crashes heavily on a slippery descent, as did defending champion Amber Halliday (bike but not rider pictured).
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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The escapees attack the cobbles.

The escapees attack the cobbles.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Local rider Fabien Baquet (Skil-Shimano) tried to escape.

Local rider Fabien Baquet (Skil-Shimano) tried to escape.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Ralf Grabsch (Team Milram) enters first into Arenberg.

Ralf Grabsch (Team Milram) enters first into Arenberg.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Stéphane Poulhies (Ar2R) leads a small group in Arenberg.

Stéphane Poulhies (Ar2R) leads a small group in Arenberg.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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New Zealand champion Julian Dean (Credit Agricole) struggles through Arenberg.

New Zealand champion Julian Dean (Credit Agricole) struggles through Arenberg.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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A lot of fans and plenty of chaos in Arenberg.

A lot of fans and plenty of chaos in Arenberg.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Tom Boonen exits the Arenberg sector.

Tom Boonen exits the Arenberg sector.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Magnus Backstedt and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).

Magnus Backstedt and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) had a technical problem in Arenberg.

Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) had a technical problem in Arenberg.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Hushovd needed some help with his rear wheel.

Hushovd needed some help with his rear wheel.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Laurent Mangel (Ag2R)

Laurent Mangel (Ag2R)
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Hard times for French champion Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne).

Hard times for French champion Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne).
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom) gets a new bike.

Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom) gets a new bike.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne) searching for the smoothest line.

Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne) searching for the smoothest line.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Stuart O'Grady takes a joyous victory Roubaix.

Stuart O'Grady takes a joyous victory Roubaix.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Juan Antonia Flecha (Rabobank) shows the agony of second place.

Juan Antonia Flecha (Rabobank) shows the agony of second place.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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It's a tough one to swallow for Flecha.

It's a tough one to swallow for Flecha.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Steffen Wesemann congratulates O'Grady on his victory.

Steffen Wesemann congratulates O'Grady on his victory.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Frédéric Guesdon (Française des Jeux) looking forward to a shower.

Frédéric Guesdon (Française des Jeux) looking forward to a shower.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Thor Hushovd gets a coke and a smile after finishing 43rd.

Thor Hushovd gets a coke and a smile after finishing 43rd.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Koen de Kort (Astana) shows off his Roubaix tan.

Koen de Kort (Astana) shows off his Roubaix tan.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Paris-Roubaix creates joy and anguish all at the same time.

Paris-Roubaix creates joy and anguish all at the same time.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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Stuart O'Grady on the podium.

Stuart O'Grady on the podium.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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The mythical cobblestone trophy given to each winner.

The mythical cobblestone trophy given to each winner.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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The podium (l-r): Flecha (2nd), O'Grady (1st) and Wesemann (3rd).

The podium (l-r): Flecha (2nd), O'Grady (1st) and Wesemann (3rd).
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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A special lap for Lars Michaelsen (centre) in his last race.

A special lap for Lars Michaelsen (centre) in his last race.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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I need a shower!

I need a shower!
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)
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The end for this year...

The end for this year...
(Image credit: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews)

105th Paris-Roubaix - PT

France, April 15, 2007

ProTour standings Video highlights

First Aussie to conquer Roubaix podium

Stuart O'Grady conquered the dry cobbles of the 105th Paris-Roubaix to become the first ever Australian in the race's top-three. The 33 year-old Team CSC man put in his bid for freedom with 240 kilometres to go when he formed part of an early 30-plus man escape. After watching his rivals all day he decided to show his cards in a solo attack with over 20 kilometres remaining.

"I was going to win today or die trying," declared O'Grady after crossing the line.

"It is hard to explain this victory," continued the Aussie, who finished fifth in Milano-Sanremo and tenth in Ronde van Vlaanderen this year. "'Relief' is probably the first word that comes to mind. I have a lot of people to thank in this team. It had been a difficult 18 months. The camaraderie in this team is way more than just winning races. Today was just a big thanks to everyone in the team for believing in me."

The move, which came on the heels of the Bourghelles sector, left pre-race favourite Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) chasing with three companions - Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof-Felt), Roberto Petito (Liquigas) and Predictor-Lotto's Björn Leukemans. Once O'Grady covered sector five, Camphin-en-Pévèle, and four, Carrefour, his victory seemed locked. He was flying the red and white colours of CSC to a second straight victory on the Roubaix velodrome.

2006 winner, Fabian Cancellara, who came in outside the top ten, was quick to congratulate his team-mate on a job well done. The Swiss launched his move last year with 16 kilometres remaining, but this year came home more than two minutes down. He quickly found O'Grady to embrace and congratulate him for a day of hard work under hot and dusty conditions.

"Nothing wrong happened to me today," said Cancellara. "For sure I wasn't at the top of my condition, where I had to be. Also the hot temperature wasn't exactly what suited me the best. But today, the tactic has won and the best rider has won. As for myself, if everyone rides on my wheel, it's becomes difficult to win Paris-Roubaix again.

"As a defending champion, I'm very happy because I haven't lost it; we have won again as a team. I know what's on in Stuart's head now. It's a lot of joy. We'll celebrate it at the same hotel where we did it for me last year. In cycling, the sense of sacrifice must always be present. I already paired with Stuart in the finale of a classic last year in Zurich. It's a day of big cycling today; our whole team has done a great job."

In addition to first being the race's first Australian victor, O'Grady became the first English-speaking rider since the great Sean Kelly to win Paris-Roubaix, and not only the first Australian, but indeed the first cyclist from any Commonwealth country to win this race (Kelly is from Eire, which is not part of the Commonwealth). And the last time O'Grady won a race on a velodrome, it was nothing less than a Gold medal in the Madison at the Athens 2004 Olympics (with Graeme Brown).

"It was good team work, Stuart deserves it, the team deserves it," said CSC director Scott Sunderland. "Fabian was the top favourite, but in these conditions it was tough because he prefers cold and rain, not the heat; Stuart is used to the Australian heat. You saw that we had different cards to play, so it worked out."

"He attacked because he was the strongest. Our advantage is in the numbers, and so everyone can't follow all of our moves."

"CSC had really good tactics, so it was better to focus on second place for me," confirmed Wesemann after the finish. The German could not close down a late surge by Flecha but still was able to put himself on the podium.

"For a non-ProTour team I think we did really well by having the jersey on the television all day long. I did not get a contract with T-Mobile so this gives me an ego boast."

2005 Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Boonen never showed the dominance of the past two years, and while he was able to leave behind his chasing companions and catch the remainder of the breakaway, it was too late. Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital) and T-Mobile's Roger Hammond were too spent to throw their weight behind the chase, and while the trio came close, they never could catch the chasing group of four, and Boonen could only take the sprint for sixth.

How it unfolded

The 105th Paris-Roubaix departed in the best possible way - under 23°C temperatures and right on time, at 11.00. The temperatures were set to rise quickly as the riders made their way over the 259.5 kilometres from Compiègne to the Roubaix velodrome.

The day was kicked off with an attack from Frenchman Anthony Ravard (Agritubel); he was quickly joined by Ángel Gómez (Saunier Duval-Prodir). The duo enjoyed the fact that they were the first escape of the Hell of the North but their move was quickly quashed, and at kilometre five they were back with the peloton.

The riders faced more than fifty kilometres of pavé, with the first section coming at kilometre 98, the three star section of Troisvilles. The challenge ahead did not stop many riders from attacking before that sector, and and the pace in the first hour was a blistering 47.4 km/h. Within that first hour, a large escape group made its way off of the front just 20 kilometres into the race. More than 30 riders made this group, with imposing names such as Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC), Roger Hammond (T-Mobile), Tom Steels (Predictor-Lotto), who often attacks early in Roubaix, and Andreas Klier (T-Mobile). The group quickly built up a lead of two minutes over the chasing peloton.

The make-up of the breakaway was Matti Breschel, Stuart O'Grady, Luke Roberts (Team CSC), Matteo Tosatto, Kevin Van Impe (Quickstep-Innergetic), Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital), Bram De Groot (Rabobank), Ludovic Auger (Française Des Jeux), Bert Grabsch, Roger Hammond, Andreas Klier (T-Mobile), Tom Steels, Greg Van Avermaet (Predictor-Lotto), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis), Ralf Grabsch (Milram), Fabien Bacquet, Clément L'Hottelerie, Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano), Erki Pütsep (Bouygues Telecom), Volodymyr Bileka (Discovery Channel), Roberto Petito, Frederik Willems (Liquigas), Nicolas Portal, José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne), David Kopp, Tom Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Julian Dean, Jimmy Engoulvent (Crédit Agricole), Stéphane Poulhiès, Nicolas Rousseau (Ag2r Prévoyance), Iban Iriondo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Olaf Pollack (Wiesenhof-Felt), Robert Wagner (Wiesenhof-Felt) and Guennadi Mikhailov (Astana).

The first abandon came at kilometre 43 when Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) pulled over to the side of the road, leaving the main peloton. The Spaniard showed good legs in the Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday, but his wrist was bothering him after an earlier crash.

As the leaders extended their advantage, Guennadi Mikhailov (Astana) bridged up to the escape, making it 34 riders, just before kilometre 55, and the main escape seemed to have formed for the day. While T-Mobile had a strong contigent up front, with Grabsch, Hammond and Klier, Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt had crashed.

As in the Ronde van Vlaanderen one week before, Lampre-Fondital had Enrico Franzoi in the escape, but by kilometre 85 the Italian squad had taken over the bulk of the work in the peloton. The gap was nearly 4'00" but the team worked to make sure its leader Ballan was safely in front for the cobbled sectors.

Up ahead, the cobbles were taking their toll on the lead group, and by sector 25, Saint-Python, the escape started to see some casualties of war; Luke Roberts, Fabien Bacquet, Andreas Klier and Nicolas Portal were shelled, and while Roberts and Bacquet joined forces in the chase, they continued to lose ground on the escape. The gap, at kilometre 132.5, was now at 4'30".

Klier was really struggling under the high speeds and hot French sun; he succumbed and was caught before the race entered sector 21, Quérénaing. The opposite was true for Ralf Grabsch. The German had worked his way off the front of the escape, powered through the four and five star Haveluy (19) and Tranchée d'Arenberg (18) sectors, and extended his lead to more than a minute.

Grabsch held his advantage through the infamous Arenberg Forest, but behind him, the race began to explode, and as Boonen led the chasing peloton over the sector, and the breakaway shattered. The torturous pavé ripped the back-end of the group while the favourites rode up front. Out of the sector, Boonen led a group that was downsized to near 25 riders, and only two and a half minutes behind the leaders. There with Boonen were such favourites as Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital), Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas), Leif Hoste (Predictor-Lotto) and, after a flat change, Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC), as well as later winner Stuart O'Grady, who had punctured in the chase group, and got picked up by the Boonen group coming out of Arenberg.

Grabsch's escape ended in the Wallers sector, but the four star sector paved the way for David Kopp to make his move. He was joined by Kevin Van Impe and Olaf Pollack. The three leaders hit the Orchies section with one minute over an ever-changing chase group. By sector six (Cysoing), a group of eleven riders including Petito (Liquigas), Flecha (Rabobank), Michaelsen and Breschel (CSC), Leukemans (Predictor), Grabsch (Milram), Franzoi (Lampre) picked up Pollack, leaving only Van Impe and Kopp off the front.

As the gap from the Flecha group to the chasing bunch including Boonen and O'Grady fell to around one minute, sector seven proved to be the decisive moment with 34 kilometres to go. Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof) attacked his group as it was coming out of the section, and T-Mobile's Roger Hammond as well as Stuart O'Grady joined him, leaving Boonen behind to chase with Leif Hoste (Predictor), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis) and Baldato (Lampre).

As O'Grady motored up to Flecha's group, Hammond could not hold on, and only O'Grady and Wesemann made it to the first chase as the two leaders, Kopp and Van Impe, were in the process of being reeled in. Wesemann then attacked, and O'Grady followed and then dropped the German, and with 23 kilometres to go, was on his own.

With two seriously difficult cobbled sectors, the Camphin-en-Pévèle (sector 5) and Carrefour de l'Arbre (4), O'Grady extended his lead first to 30 seconds, then to nearly one minute at the exit of the Carrefour sector, while behind the Flecha group, Boonen's group was trying to come to terms 40 seconds in arrears.

As O'Grady pushed on alone, the Flecha group was being whittled down, and the Rabobank rider had only Wesemann, Leukmans, and Petito while Franzoi and Hammond, who had been off the front all day, took up with Boonen, who had left his companions behind in solo pursuit of the front of the race.

On the section of Hem, at seven kilometres remaining, O'Grady was still pushing hard, and the man from Adelaide held on to his minute over the four behind. He covered the dry 1400 metres flawlessly and pushed for the final sector of Roubaix. He floated over the 300 metres and headed towards the mythical velodrome in Roubaix.

On the entrance he knew the victory was his and pumped his fist. Nearly a minute behind, came Flecha's group. The Spaniard attacked with a half lap to go of the one and half laps. He held off German Steffen Wesemann for second. Boonen's group of three nearly closed down the Flecha-four, but was unable to make contact, and Boonen took the scraps in sixth place.

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