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Live coverage

Paris - Roubaix 2012


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from Paris-Roubaix.

Welcome to Hell! Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North – and for many riders and fans, the biggest one-day race of the year.

Susan here, to get us started on the day's journey.

The race starts at 10:10, with the "sharp" start at 10:20.

195 riders are ready to take to the road -- and cobbles -- under sunny skies but cool temperatures.

Let's make that 194 riders.  The race's official website tells us that Francisco Ventoso of Movistar did not start.  No reason given.

This is one of the oldest races around, having first been run in 1896. From then until 1967 – now you may find this hard to believe – it started in Paris and ended in Roubaix. Since then, however, it has started in Compiègne, but yes, still ends in Roubaix.

And they're off!  The flag has dropped, and the race has begun.Who will be the first to attack?

254km remaining from 257km

Movistar may be short-handed today, but that isn't stopping them. Jesus Herrada is one of the first to jump at 3 km.

Herrada's attempt didn't work out, and Markel Irizar of RadioShack is the next to give it a try.

249km remaining from 257km

Lucas Haedo of Saxo Bank went with Irizar, but the peloton has caught them now.

Who had the first idea for the race? Two textile manufactures in Roubaix, who just coincidentally had built a velodrome....

There are 25 teams here today. That is all 18 WorldTour teams, and seven wildcards: Cofidis, Saus-Sojasun, Bretagne-Schuller, Europcar, NetApp, Argos-Shimano, and Farnese Vini.

The race this year is being held on Easter Sunday. The first race was allegedly scheduled to be held on Easter Sunday, with much protest from the Roman Catholic Church. However, the race was run two weeks after Easter, and it is not clear whther the whole story is false or whehter the date of the race was indeed changed.

However, in 1897, the race was indeed held on Easter.

239km remaining from 257km

The next unsuccessful escape attempt has been made, by Guillame Van Keirsbulck of Omega Pharma - QuickStep, who won the U23 race in 2009.

237km remaining from 257km

Federico Canuti of Liquigas has built up a 10 second lead!

Does Tom Boonen want to win here today? Now, isn't that a silly question? Of course he does.  And why does he love this race so much? "It's my preferred race because you have to keep fighting against yourself. It's a survival of the fittest, a day of saving your energy whenever you can to have all your energy when it's needed.”

232km remaining from 257km

Canuti's break was not to be.  Peloton together again.

The race did not get the nickname “Hell of the North” until 1919, when a group of organisers and reporters set off to see what damage had been done to the route by World War I. It was bad. It was so bad, as to sadly deserve the description of “hell”.

227km remaining from 257km

The next attempt is a group of five rides.  We don't know the names yet -- let's wait and see if they get any kind of a gap.

Andreas Klier of Garmin was the first to go, and he has been joined by Greg Henderson (Lotto), Jimmy Casper (AG2R),  Bert de Backer (Argos-Shimano) and Jeremie Galland (Saur-Sojasun). They have 10 seconds on the field.

Well, they had 10 seconds.  Now they don't.  All together again.

Frederic Guesdon of Fdj, 40 years old, was determined to end his career with today's race.  That plan almost didn't work out when he broke a hip in a crash at the Tour Down Under. But the Frenchman worked hard and was indeed at the start today. 

The first winner of Paris-Roubaix, way back in 1896, was German Josef Fischer. He is to date the only German to ever win here.

Fabian Cancellara's absence will mean a larger role for RadioShack-Nissan's Gregory Rast.  He talked to Cyclingnews about all of that recently.

Belgian riders have dominated this race, winning 54 times, followed by French riders with 28 wins. Italy has 13, the Netherlands 5, Switzerland 3, and Ireland 2.  Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden, Ukraine and Austrlia have one each.

207km remaining from 257km

A huge group of about 25 is now trying to get away.

You only get one guess as to what happened to that group...... yup, all together again.

Garmin, BMC, FDJ and GreenEdge all took to the cobbles this week to check out the course. Well, actually all the teams did, but here we can offer you a gallery of photos of the above-mentioned teams doing so.

Believe it or not, this is not the only race on today.  Let's take a look a bit further south. Who will win  the 58th Klasika Primavera-Amorebieta?... Alejandro Valverde, Samuel Sánchez, Joaquin Rodriguez ...

Perhaps there won't be any escapes today!  Perhaps they will all huddle together like a flock of sheep the whole way!

No, that doesn't really seem all that likely....

The record for most wins here is four, held by Roger De Vlaeminck (1972, 1974, 1975, 1977).  Tom Boonen has won three times (2005, 2008, and 2009), so a win here today would move him up in a tie at the top.

It is perhaps Thor Hushovd's greatest dream to win this race, and while he has been on the podium in the past, he has never achieved the top step. This year again he is aiming for that win, and believes he can beat Boonen.

“I think I can follow Tom on the cobbles and also I know that I can beat him in the sprint,” Hushovd told reporters in Kortrijk on Thursday. “That’s not that I say I can beat him every time but I think also he is afraid of me in a sprint on the velodrome.”

There is a lot of nothing happening in the race right now, so we are using the time to catch up on some history and check out some news stories.

Boonen is one of seven riders who has won here three times, but the only active rider. The others are : Octave Lapize (1909, 1910, 1911), Gaston Rebry (1931, 1934, 1935), Rik van Looy (1961, 1962, 1965), Eddy Merckx (1968, 1970, 1973), Francesco Moser (1978, 1979, 1980), and Johan Museeuw (1996, 2000, 2002). Yes, “that” Johan Bruyneel.

Taylor Phinney is riding a BMC Granfondo here today.  He showed it to Cyclingnews and talked about it here.

187km remaining from 257km

Do we finally have action? The first cobbles will appear in 20km or so, and we have a new escape attempt.  12 riders are trying to split off.

Let's take a look at the list of cobbles. Here are the first 12, thanks to

27. Troisvilles (after 97.5 km - 2,200 m)
26. Viesly (after 104 km - 1,800 m)
25. Quievy (after 106.5 km - 3,700 m)
24. Saint-Python (after 111.5 km - 1,500 m)
23. Vertain (after 119.5 km - 2,300 m)
22. Capelle-sur-Ecaillon - Le Buat (after 126 km - 1,700 m)
21. Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes - Famars (after 142 km - 2,600 m)
20. Famars - Quérénaing (after 145.5 km - 1,200 m)
19. Quérénaing – Maing (after 149 km - 2,500 m)
18. Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (after 152 km - 1,600 m)
17. Haveluy (after 163.5 km - 2,500 m)
16.Trouée d’Arenberg (after 172 km - 2,400 m)


190km remaining from 257km

Will this break survive? We now have 30 seconds for Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (OPQ), Yaroslav Popovych (RNT), Kenny De Haes (LTB), Frederik Veuchelen (VCD), Bert Jan Lindeman (VCD), David Boucher (FDJ), Michael Morkov (SAX), David Veilleux (EUC), Dominic Klemme (ARG), Laurent Mangel (SAU). Aleksejs Saramotins (COF). and Grischa Janorschke (APP).

75km remaining from 257km

Yes, it looks like this will be the break of the day. They have a gap of up to a minute, partially because the peloton behind them stopped to heed the call of nature (so to speak).

179km remaining from 257km

And here the list of riders with all the proper team names.

Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Nissan), Kenny De Haes (Lotto-Belisol), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM), Bert Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM). David Boucher (FDJ-Big Mat). Michael Morkov (Team Saxo Bank), David Veilleux (Team Europcar), Dominic Klemme (Argos-Shimano), Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun),
Aleksejs Saramotins (Cofidis) and Grischa Janorschke (Team NetApp).

The gap is now 1:45.

Just for the record, here are the rest of the cobbled sections:

15. Millonfosse - Bousiginies (after 178.5 km - 1,400 m)
14. Brillon to Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes (after 183 km - 1,100 m)
Tilloy - Sars-et-Rosières (after 185.5 km - 2,400 m)
13. Beuvry-la-Forêt - Orchies (after 192 km - 1,400m)
12. Orchies (after 197 km - 1,700 m)
11. Auchy-lez-Orchies - Bersée (after 203 km - 2,600 m)
10. Mons-en-Pévèle (after 208.5 km - 3,000 m)
9. Mérignies - Avelin (after 215 km - 700 m)
8. Pont-Thibaut (after 218 km - 1,400 m)
7. Templeuve l’Epinette (after 223.5 km - 200 m)
Le Moulin de Vertain (after 224 km - 500 m)
6. Cysoing - Bourghelles (after 230,5 km - 1,300 m)
Bourghelles - Wannehain (after 233 km - 1,100 m)
5. Camphin-en-Pévèle (after 237.5 km – 1,800 m)
4. Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (after 240.5 km - 2,100 m)
3. Gruson (after 242.5 km - 1,100 m)
2. Hem (after 249.5 km - 1,400 m)
1. Roubaix (after 256.5 km - 300 m)

10 riders have won both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders in the same year. The two most recent are Tom Boonen (2005) and Fabian Cancellara (2010). Boonen has excellent chances to repeat that feat and become the first rider ever to accomplish it twice.

177km remaining from 257km

And the gap is now up to three minutes.

The weather is always of major interest at this race, and Dan Benson, who is at the scene, just told us: "it was dry at the start but cloudy at the finish. it could rain."

171km remaining from 257km

86km and four minutes.  Sky and BMC are at the head of the peloton, but it's not really a chase at this point.

Remember Phinney's BMC Granfondo, our tech expert James Huang took a look at it and delivered his opinion here.

There is, of course, also an U23 version of this race, and you may well have heard of some of the winners: Thor Hushovd (1998) and Yaroslav Popovych (2001) for example.

Taylor Phinney actually won it twice, in 2009 and 2010. He will be taking on the “real” race this year for the first time.

We are approaching the first secton of cobblestones, the Troisvilles, which is 2200 metres long.

Let's take a look through the race rules on Did you know there is a time limit?  Riders must finish within 5% of the winner's time.

The escape group has now successfully conquered the first set of cobbles, with a gap of 4:10.

Money! That is always of interest. The winner gets €30,000, second place is €22,000 and third is €15,000. From there it goes down to €500 for places 16 to 20. The total purse is €91,000.

And the lead group is now over at least one more cobble passage.

Here is the list of winners here from the last ten years:

2011     Johan Vansummeren (Bel)            
2010     Fabian Cancellara (Swi)

2009     Tom Boonen (Bel)            
2008     Tom Boonen (Bel)            
2007     Stuart O'Grady (Aus)            
2006     Fabian Cancellara (Swi)

2005     Tom Boonen (Bel)            
2004     Magnus Backstedt (Swe)            
2003     Peter Van Petegem (Bel)            
2002     Johan Museeuw (Bel)

Patrick Lefevere has guided riders to 10 wins in Paris-Roubaix, from Franco Ballerini in 1995 to Tom Boonen in 2009. He takes a look back at each one of those, with some very interesting commentary. 

113km remaining from 257km

Four cobbled sections done now for the escapees.

We like this sentence from James Huang's story on how Paris-Roubaix bikes have evolved over the years: “Since the earliest days of the race, riders and teams have been searching for a mechanical advantage over their rivals or, at the very least, ways to merely keep their bikes from disintegrating.” 

James takes a look at a series of bikes – successes and failures – since 1991.

And we had the kms wrong way around there.  Just pretend to yourself that it actually reads: 144km remaining".

The surprise winner last year was Johan Vansummeren of Garmin-Cervelo. It was one of only two wins for him all year, with the other one being the Duo Normand in September, which he won with partner Thomas Dekker.

In 2012 he was on the winning team for the Tour of Qatar team time trial, and showed some  promise for the Classics by finishing 11th in Gent-Wevelgem.

Boonen and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates will all be on new bikes today, the Specialized Roubaix SL4. Of course James Huang had to investigate this, and tells all.

Gap still at just over four minutes, with Sky leading the field.

And here is Dan, to take you a bit futher into the cobbledy action!

129km remaining from 257km

129km remaining and the gap is 4.02 to the leaders. No rain (yet) but conditions could still change out on the road.

Cyclingnews - #Flecha #sky hopes for upper hand ahead of #Roubaix

@caluweski Sun, 8th Apr 2012 11:55:13

Garmin and Sky have both missed out on the break so they'll be the teams looking to start chasing. QuickStep dont have to work yet but they'll probably do so regardless of having a rider up the road. They'll want to make the race as hard as possible, thinning out Boonen's rivals. If they can drop him off a the Carrefour de l'Arbre with five or six rivals, they'll have done a good job.

The bunch are about to start section 22 of the cobbles.  = 1700 meters in length and rated as 3/5 stars.

And there's a crash, near the back of the field. A Liquigas rider and a rider from Argos on the floor. At the head of the bunch, Sky are leading the pack, setting the pace with BMC on their left. The British team squeeze them out and take charge again.

Filippo Pozzato is optimistic about his chances of beating Tom Boonen in a sprint on the Roubaix velodrome in spite of his defeat at the Tour of Flanders last week. Farnese Vini-Selle Italia directeur sportif Serge Parsani told Gazzetta dello Sport this morning that Pozzato’s penchant for training on the track at Montichiari could be a crucial marginal gain in the finale this afternoon.



“It would be better if Pippo could drop Boonen before the velodrome, but the track is different to the road. You need to be a bit more technical on the track, and know when to go. Pippo rode a lot on the track as a youngster, so if the occasion arises, hopefully he’s able to take advantage of that weapon. But Roubaix is a different race and sometimes the sprint is simply won by the rider who has the most energy left: think of Guesdon beating a big group of riders in the sprint in 1997, where he normally certainly wouldn’t have been the favourite in a sprint.”


Chris Sutton is the Sky rider on the front of the peloton. No rain, means lots of dust and the bunch are kicking it up. Grey skies overhead though.

While Tom Boonen is the top favorite coming into this race there’s more riders in the Belgian team who can play their card in the finale. Men like Niki Terpstra and Sylvain Chavanel already showed they have what it takes to ride over pavé. Chavanel, a 32 year-old, realized he was expected to shine in the hell of the north when he talked with the press right before the start. “I’ve got the good form, that’s for sure,” la Machine said. On paper we’re one of the strongest teams but there are other riders too. I want to avoid the flat tires and the crashes. And ideally an attack in the finale, anticipating the favorites would be the ideal scenario for me. Many riders will be marking my wheel. They’re looking at Tom Boonen but also Sylvain Chavanel. They’ll mark us but we’ll mark them as well,” Chavanel said.

Two Farnese riders leap onto the pavement in a bid to move up to the head of the bunch. Dangerous tactic after what happened to Langeveld in Flanders

Stijn Devolder grabs some lunch at the back of the bunch. He's got another 15km or so until the next sector of pave but he wont want to stay near the back for too long.

Vansummeren has been near the front of the bunch since the last sector of cobbles. No one seems to be marking him and he looks set on just staying out of trouble for now.

Meanwhile Popo sits at the back of the break.

The break reach the next sector, 21, which has a 5* rating for difficulty. Their advantage is now 4.44 with 117km left

Klemme taps through at the head of the bike race. He certainly looks distinctive with his white kit and bright green Felt bike.

Sky reach the section and again set the pace with BMC splintering their pace line.

Saramotins takes to the grass in order to get some rest from the cobbles. The rest of the break line out but they cant hold him and stick to the centre of the cobbles.

Once Saramotins gets a gap he moves back to the centre of the road. He'll surely wait for the riders behind him.

Boonen has Steegmans glued to his side back in the bunch.

And Phinney will lead us into the next section.

Saramotins is coming back to the break. Again he's in the gutter of the road and Poppo is hanging at the back. Saramotins has a flat.

110km remaining from 257km

110 to go and Saramotins gets a new wheel but there's a huge crash in the bunch.

It happened about 30 riders back. Riders are all over the road, some taking to the fields and running in order to get around.

Guesdon looks like he fell. he's back up and chasing though.

The Frenchman waits for a group of riders and slips into the paceline. He should be able to come back to the bunch from here.

It doesnt look like any of the favourites came down. Phinney continues to lead the bunch.
The crash seemed to occur when a rider went into the banking, his bike kicking back into the road and causing the pile up. Gallopin was in the crash too.

Two more BMC  henchmen move to the front and give Phinney a rest. Vansummeren keeps his frame out of the wind.

There are groups spread out over the road due to the crash as BMC lead us onto sector 20, which is rated as 2*. QuickStep and Garmin are helping BMC with the pace now.

Some of the chasing groups should make it back, with the BMC led bunch going through a feedzone and taking on bottles.

The BMC bunch is only about 30 strong. They have about 20 seconds on a group that's at least double in size. BMC need to be careful they dont burn all their matches too early.

@dnlbenson at the end of 20, the real has 3:45 or so

@dellisny Sun, 8th Apr 2012 12:39:49

That last tweet came in from Slipstream boss Doug Ellis who is helping his riders out on the road today.

Gallopin is around 800 meters back as the break hit sector 18.  Their lead is 3.24

@dnlbenson Do we know why Peter Sagan didn't start today? Did he just get swapped for his brother or was he ill?

@IrvinPChaos Sun, 8th Apr 2012 12:17:30

He was never set to start.

Phinney is on the front again, his hands over the bars as if he's riding Spinachi's. Garmin are assessing the situation at the moment, not committing to the pace setting just yet. Boonen is just keeping out of trouble

The bunch group have about 100,150 meters on the Gallopin/Rosseler group behind.

I can only think that Boonen has lost some teammates in the group behind and that's why BMC are driving so hard, in a bid to isolate him.

@dnlbenson - they don't want him risking a fall this year. He has plenty of time to win this one but takes a lot of risks here.

@rorymasini Sun, 8th Apr 2012 12:45:31

Thanks Rory (who works for Cannondale)

David Veilleux (Team Europcar), Our sole North Americin in the break made the break last year @dnlbenson

@namebutler Sun, 8th Apr 2012 12:47:29

Super Pip Pozzato moves up to the very front of the bunch and Boonen looks over.

And Greipel attacks.

With 6 or 7 BMC riders on the front, Greipel thinks it's a good time to attack.

He's certainly not holding back but the sprinter only has about 150 meters on the bunch. BMC in firm control of affairs for now, with the gap down to 2.38.


Greipel sits up.

With the bunch starting to come back together the pace eases slightly. There's still less than 100 riders present though.

GreenEdge start to shift to the front of the bunch, which still has BMC drilling the pace. I dont think Guesdon has made it back.

Chavanel, Boonen, Rast, are all here.

92km remaining from 257km

92 km to go and the gap to the break is 2.56 and the leaders are on sector 17, a four * strip of cobbles.

Saramotins is at the back of the break and struggling it seems. Keirsbulck has been told to work but guess what?  QuickStep have woken up in the bunch too. Lefevere and Peters are putting their plan into action.

QuickStep lead onto sector 17.

OmegaPharma-QuickStep, sorry.

Klemme leads the break out of the sector of cobbles, their lead 2.48

Sky's Eisel hits the front now and the pace jumps up.

Hushovd is in 5th wheel. We've not seen much of Ballan yet.

Eisel's pace is opening up some gaps though.

For those that find scrolling hard (I'm one of them). Here's the break again:


Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Nissan), Kenny De Haes (Lotto-Belisol), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM), Bert Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM). David Boucher (FDJ-Big Mat). Michael Morkov (Team Saxo Bank), David Veilleux (Team Europcar), Dominic Klemme (Argos-Shimano), Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun),
Aleksejs Saramotins (Cofidis) and Grischa Janorschke (Team NetApp).

Sky briefly joined Eisel on the front but BMC have assumed control once again.

85km remaining from 257km

The lead is down to 2.33.

The next section is the Arenberg.

the break enter the Arenberg and they crash. The Netapp rider is down so isKeirsbulck. It happened just in front of Klemme who was lucky/skilful to come around.

Now the peloton are about to enter the Forest.

They're racing towards it at 60kph.

Here we go.

Boonen leads us in.

Steegmans is with him.

I think that's Vansummeren in 3rd wheel. As Keirsbulck has waited from the break.

Chavanel taker over at the front for Omega. Rast is in difficulty.

Boonen leads Chavanel.

Chavanel on the front again. Hagen and Eisel and Vansummeren are near the front.

The French national champion is doing a great job, stringing it all out.

And the bunch are out of the Forest. They ease up slightly. Hincapie is not in the Boonen group. It looks like he's had a hard time in the Forest, perhaps a puncture.

79km remaining from 257km

79km to go and the gap is 1.39.

Rast and Hincapie are off the back of the Omega led bunch.

janorischki has been taken to hospital after that fall in the Arenberg. As soon as we know more we'll post an update.

Team Sky move to the front of the bunch as we head into sector 15. This is a crucial part of the race and Omega, Garmin and BMC will need to stay focussed.

It looks like 7 riders are clear, including Ballan.

Flecha is also in the Ballan group, Turgot, Casper, and a rider from Rabobank too. They have about 100 meters and Boonen sends his men to the front but the reaction isn't swift by any means.

Ballan and Flecha are leading this very dangerous counter attack.

Omega have only put one man on the front, with Ballan and co already holding a 20 second lead.

@dnlbenson anyone see Boonen? If it were me I wouldn't want Boom and Ballan up the road at this point. #roubaix

@Laura_Weislo Sun, 8th Apr 2012 13:26:56

He's in the bunch

Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) is the Rabo man in the counter attack. He was third last year. it's up to QuickStep and Garmin to chase this down.

Boonen's men have the bunch strung out, with the Ballan group taking another 2 seconds out of them. Chavanel is second in line, waiting to increase the pace at any moment.

Ok, here's the correct names of the counter attack.
Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Jimmy Casper (Ag2R), Maarten Wynants(RAB) and Sebastian Turgot (EUR)

At the back of the bunch, Hincapie is coming back. Greipel too.

The break are now on sector 14.

Steegmans grits his teeth. He needs to do a job for Boonen and neutralize this move. Chavanel still in second wheel.

Sector 14 and Steegmans is doing all the work and pulling the Ballan group back. Job done. Incredible.

Ah it's not done yet. He still has a bit more work to do but he's halved the lead in no time at all.

The Rabo rider is wynants. Not Sorenson, Ekimov, Bruyneel as we've been stating for the last 10 mins.

O'Grady is in a group a bit further back from the Boonen group. The morning break is about to be caught and it looks for the moment that it's all coming back together. 66km to go.

O'Grady is amazing. I have one plate in my arm and it aches He's broken as many as Evil Knievel and still pounding over cobbles in #roubaix

@Laura_Weislo Sun, 8th Apr 2012 13:32:20

66km to go and Chavanel attacks.

6 riders are coming up to him.

Pippo is at the back of the peloton

Chavanel has a look at the company' he's brought with him and then gets back to work.

Ballan is back with the Pippo, Boonen group.

Chavanel sits up and we're onto section 13.. 1300m long , 3* rating.

Turgot pushes on ahead as the rest of the Chavanel group are brought back.

The BMC rider in the Chavanel group doesnt want to give up yet and just before they're caught he stamps on the pedals.

Chavanel sees it and attacks again. Turgot is 6 seconds up the road.

Turgo is about to brought back and we have 5 leaders again. Names coming...

Omega wont chase this so Sky and Garmin will need to take over.

Schar, Mangel, Turgot and Ladagnous are the riders with Chavanel.

Vacansoleil are aiding Sky in the chase. Devolder must be in the group then.

There's a crash and Hushovd is down. Ripped shorts but he's up and chasing. On his own though.

That wasn't on cobbles, but a nice bit of flat roads as the bunch took a left hand corner.

The Chavanel group are just tapping through but they're not really riding together and they're about to be caught.

They hit sector 12 with a handful of seconds. Turgot goes clear again but he only has 3 seconds, the bunch a further 4 back.

Sebastien Turgot (Europcar), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Michael Schar (BMC), Mathieu Ladagnous (AG2R), and Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun)

Chavanel punctures and Boonen and Pozzato break clear and join up with Turgot.

57km to go and sector 12 proves to be crucial. Ballan makes it over to the leading trio.

Chavanel is only just had a wheel change.

Boonen has a teammate with him. So five leaders now.

It's Terpstra.

And right now both Omega riders are clear. Pozzato and Ballan have eased and the two QuickStep riders have ridden away from everyone.

55km to go and Boonen and Terpstra are clear of the entire field.

They have 10 seconds on the bunch.

If they hold on and win going 1,2.....

BMC are leading the chase, the lead is now 13 seconds. Boonen has no choice but to carry on here - all or nothing.

Terpstra has a huge job here. He has to stay with Boonen for as long as possible but he can't hold his leader up at all.

Sky join the BMC chase but the lead is now 19 seconds.

And Terpstra has gone. Either a puncture or he couldn't hold Boonen, who now has 21 seconds.

Back with the mortals and Chavanel is chasing hard to get back on terms with the remnants of the bunch. He has Rast on his wheel.

 Boonen has opened up a gap of 32 seconds.

Terpstra is on his own in no man's land and Pozzato crashes. He's back up and chasing but with no teammates....

50km for Boonen, and a 30 second lead. The race is far from over though. Not yet anyway.

There are 3 Sky riders chasing, and Terpstra has been brought back.

Make that 4 riders from Sky, and then help from Garmin and Rabobank. Ballan is on his own in the chase group though.

It's a dangerous game that Boonen is playing #roubaix

@julienpretotRTR Sun, 8th Apr 2012 13:59:48

Boonen heads onto section 10.

Pozzato is back with the medial car for treatment.

Medical, even.

Boonen has lost a couple of seconds from his lead, as Pozzato starts to come back through the cars.

Flecha puts the hammer down as he goes through the same section and Vansummeren leads behind him.

I'm a professional & even I'm amazed that TOMMEKE!TOMMEKE!TOMMEKE! can control the crazy variables of Roubaix.

@millarmind Sun, 8th Apr 2012 14:07:04

Hushovd and Chavanel are in another chase group further back.

Up ahead it looks like Ballan is dragging Flecha back.

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)

Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at 0:28

Chase group with Johan Vansummeren (Garmn-Barracuda)

The chase group behind Boonen is down to just 7 or so riders.

Two more Sky riders join the Flecha, Ballan chase. Realistically they're the only ones who can bring Boonen back now.

Boonen moves onto sector 9. It's fairly easy in comparison to some of the other sectors at just 2*.

Boom and Boasson Hagen are two riders with the Flecha group but there are another 6 or 7 riders further back who should latch on.

At the moment the chase consists of Johan Vansummeren (Garmn-Barracuda), Lars Boom (Rabobank), Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen, Matthew Hayman , Luca Paolini (Katusha), MathieuLadagnous (FDJ),  Sebastien Turgot (Europcar)

Boonen has 43 seconds on the chase. He still looks strong, still looks relaxed. We now have four Sky riders on the front of the chase group, with groups 2 and 3 merging with 39km to go.

Ian Stannard is the Sky rider leading the chase for Flecha and Boasson Hagen. Surely Ballan will rue using all of his teammates so early in the race?

Pozzato isnt in the chase from what I can see.

Boom does have a teammate though.

Terpstra just sits in second wheel to try and disrupt the chase as much as possible.

Peters drives alongside Boonen. Wonder if he remembers turning to the Leopard car last year in Flanders and saying 'your boy is too, strong, he's too strong' about Cancellara.

Boonen is flying now. His gap is 46 seconds.

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)

Johan Vansummeren (Garmn-Barracuda), Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Lars Boom (Rabobank), Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Juan Antonio Flecha, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Matthew Hayman and Ian Stannard (Sky), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Matteo Tosatto (Saxo), Sebastien Turgot (Europcar) and Jacobo Guarnieri (Astana) at 0:45

36km remaining from 257km

Still a 46 second lead with Sky on the front and chasing. They're not making any impression though.

Update on chase group: Johan Vansummeren (Garmn-Barracuda), Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Lars Boom and Martten Wynants (Rabobank), Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Juan Antonio Flecha, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Matthew Hayman and Ian Stannard (Sky), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Matteo Tosatto (Saxo), Sebastien Turgot (Europcar) and Jacobo Guarnieri (Astana) at 0:45

And Stannard has popped. That's him done for the day.

Boonen enters sector 7, his lead now 52 seconds.

Hayman takes over at the front of the chasing bunch.

Every time he goes through a corner Boonen simply pushes on the pedals again. He takes another gel and bottle from Peters and then carries on, his hands on the drop. The lead is almost a minute.

And with 29 km to go, it's back over to Susan.

Susan back, to bump along to the finish.

Vansummeren is moving up. Will he try something?

Boonen is looking very good -- strong and determined -- but there is still a ways to go, and he has been out there alone a long time already.

Boonen is now on the next cobbled section, and still has 58 seconds.

And he now has one minute, and the gap is climbing, second by second.

Hayman leads the chase group as they also are on the cobbles now.

25km remaining from 257km

Only 25km more for Boonen.

The chase group seems to be falling apart.

More cobbles for Boonen, and the chasing field.  Vansummeren leds the way.

Boonen happy to leave that section and get back on the pavement.

Boassan Hagen falls back out of the chase group. As does Heyman.

Boom and Ballan take the leald and pull a few meters on the group.  Terpstra movs to close the gap.

The chase group is not looking good.  It looks like some of the riders have realized they won't be catching Boonen and are losing interest.

20km remaining from 257km

1:08 now for Boonen.

Boom punctures.  Bad timing.

Boonen now hitting Section 4 of the "paves."  And a 1:2 gap for him!

Anyone else thinking about Fabian Cancellara? This is the sort of move we expect from him.  But from Boonen?

The chase group again looks to be splitting on the next cobbled section. And a puncture for Heyman, who had caught up again.

Carrefour de l'Arbre -- a five-star cobbled section for Boonen.

As much as possible he rides along the side, but isn't afraid to go right down the middle of the cobblestones himself. 

Boom has taken off from the group and is now 1:10 behind Boonen. Ballan is now leading a small chase group.

Boonen continues to lead by 1:09 over Boom, with Ballan, Ladagnous and Flecha behind.

What a huge crowd! Boonen not only has to fight the cobbles but must look that he has a free path.

14km remaining from 257km

Boonen with 1:12 over Boom, who in turn has about 10 seconds on the Ballan group.

Cobbles,cobbles, more cobbles for Boonen. But now he is looking forward to getting one of those cobbles as his reward for winning this race.

The Ballan group catches Boom.

Ballan tries to take off and has a few meters on the other. We think he left it too late.

Ladagnous punctures and falls out of the chase group.

Ballan, Flecha, Boom all together. Now the three of them will be fighting it out for the final two podium places.

Ladagnous is now together with Paolini, giving chase.

10km remaining from 257km

Boonen can smell the win now and once again gives gas. 1:22 is the gap with 10km to go.

Boonen still looks cool and determined.

The three chasers are sharing the lead work, hoping against hope.

Boonen is on the next to last cobble section.

7km remaining from 257km

The gap has grown again, now at 1:36.

The chasers are now on those cobbles as well. This is a long section, some 1400 metres.

Boonen is on pavement again. He has only 300 metres of cobbles ahead of him.

With only five km or so to go, one has to start wondering what the three chasers will do. Who will attack first? Who is the best sprinter

Boonen's win will give him four Paris-Roubaix victories, making him only the second man ever to accomplish that feat.

4km remaining from 257km

4km and 1:32. And exactly 5 km for the chasers.

Boonen realizes he has this now and winks at the camera.

He rides through the cheering fans on the roads in Roubaix, smilng and waving.

Last kilometer for Boonen!

He enters the velodrome to a roaring welcome.

Once around he goes....

He waves and celebrates.

He takes one last look behind him and sits up, waving both hands in victory as he crosses the finish line.

The three chasers are still out there! We doubt they will continue to work together so well for much longer.

They are in the velodrome, and now the games will begin.

Boom leads the way into the final lap, and they are joined by Terpstra and Ladagnous.

Not him of course, but Turgot, who goes in a photo finish with Ballan for second.

The third group now enters the velodrome.

And they too sprint to the finish. And why not?

Wow, the Ballan/Turgot finish couldn't be much closer! We wouldn't like to call it. But we understand, unofficially, that the nod is going to Turgot.

They crossed the line at 1:39 behind Boonen.

More and more groups are coming into the velodrome. Congratulations to all riders who finish this race!

What a spring Boonen has had! We have to do some research, but are willing to bet that he is the first rider to have won Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Prijs, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix all in the same year.

Needless to say, he has built up his lead in the UCI's WorldTour rankings, as well.

It was a stunning display today. Tom Boonen took off from the group, and his rivals either couldn't follow or gabled that he wouldn't make it.

They were wrong. A 53km solo flight for "Tornado Tom", who has so clearly established himself as not only back in the spotlight, but as the dominant rider of this new season.

The top twenty in the 2012 Paris-Roubaix:

1  Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  5:55:22  
2  Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar  0:01:39  
3  Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team     
4  Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling     
5  Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep     
6  Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  0:01:43  
7  Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo Bank  0:03:31  
8  Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling     
9  Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda     
10  Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team     
11  Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team     
12  Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat     
13  Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan  0:04:23  
14  Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team     
15  Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team  0:04:37  
16  Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat     
17  Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia     
18  Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne     
19  Jimmy Casper (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale     
20  Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

What an exciting day! What a race! It is always great, but while the winner is not really a surprise, the method in which he did so was surely unexpected.

Congratulations once again to not only Boonen, Turgot and Balland, but also to all the riders who took on the cobblestones today.

That's it for today.  Thanks for joining us and be sure to stay tuned for the upcoming Ardennes Classics!

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