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Live coverage

Paris - Roubaix 2013

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from Paris-Roubaix. Coverage starts at 9:30 CET.

Good morning and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from the 2013 Paris-Roubaix. We're at the start line in Compiegne, where temperatures are on the chilly side, minus 3 in fact, but there are still crowds gathering at the sign in area.

 

Cyclingnews will be bringing you complete race coverage throughout the race, so sit back, relax and enjoy what is undoubtedly the most popular one day race in the cycling calendar.

We're about 45 minutes away from the official start time, and the team buses have all parked up in the Place Charles de Gaulle in Compiègne. As you would expect the biggest crowds have gathered outside the RadioShack and Omega Pharma-QuickStep buses, while there's also interest outside the BMC and French teams' buses too.

A few riders are trickling off the warm buses and towards the official sign in. They'll be presented as teams  - just as they were yesterday - and then they'll be heading back to the buses before heading to the start line.

After last week's dominant showing at the Tour of Flanders there's was an immediate sense that Paris-Roubaix had almost already been won, that Cancellara would ride away from the peloton as he did in 2010, and seal his third race title here.

 

However a week is a long time in cycling and a fair amount has happened. The RadioShack leader has crashed twice  - once in racing, once in training - and teams have had time to prepare their strategies ahead of the race.

There's been talk about trying to anticipate the Cancellara express by throwing men up the road in the hope that it sticks, but also a possible attempt to isolate him from his team. Both strategies come with risk, as they all do, but it has worked before. In 2011 Cancellara was the strongest in the race but Garmin played their cards perfectly and came away with their first and only Monument.

Looks like I'm getting ready for a boxing match but hope it makes my hands and wrist a little less later... http://t.co/C2VnEeUCqX

@koendekort Sun, 7th Apr 2013 08:58:45

We've just had a quick word with Sebastien Turgot, who finished on the podium in last year's Paris-Roubaix.

“I’ve been improving in the classics over the past couple of seasons and I’d really like to win one in the next two or three years. It’s going to be very hard here and to beat Cancellara, I you’ll have to anticipate him. You can’t afford to wait for him.”
 

Turgot is part of the current crop of French riders who have risen through the ranks and start today as outside contenders for the title. Roubaix hasn't seen a French winner since 1997, and the nation hasn't won a Monument since Jalabert won Lombardia that same year. It's going to be a big ask for Turgot, Chavanel, and Offredo to beat Cancellara in a straight out fight but a podium place is certainly not a long shot.

The majority of the riders have signed in now and a few are starting to gather on the startline itself. The sun is out, but it's still bitterly cold at the moment. We're about 8 minutes away from the start of the race.

The route itself is largely untouched from last year with 27 cobbled sectors defining the course and few minor alterations here and there.

The first five sectors remain unchanged, but then the course takes a different route, avoiding the Capelle-sur-Écaillon à Ruesnes, Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes - Famars and Famars-Quérénaing, which were sectors 22, 21 and 20 last year

Troisvilles a Inchy, the first sector, is certainly not the most demanding on the legs but with 200 riders hurtling towards the first cobbled section at over 60 kilometres an hour, even in dry conditions there’s almost always a crash. If a leader is caught behind at this stage, there’s still time to come back but vital energy will be unnecessarily used.

 

After the first five sectors the race will divert after Vertain, giving the riders a 10km break before sector 22 in Verchain. The course then briefly picks up the 2012 route on the Quérénaing-Maing sector, which is number 21 this year.
 

Filippo Pozzato:

Boonen’s absence doesn’t change anything for me but it changes things for Cancellara because it means that he bears most of the responsibility for the race. It’s changed a lot for him because QuickStep would have taken hold of the race along with Cancellara but now it’s all falling onto Cancellara’s shoulders.

 

The Trouée d'Arenberg makes his grand entrance at kilometre 158, making it sector 18, rather than 16. The riders will have 3,600m fewer of pavé and 14km less of racing in their legs when they reach the first five-star set of cobbles in the Arenberg forest.

Even though the cobbles are expected to remain dry they're still incredibly dangerous. The lack of mud means that the moss in between the cobbles becomes incredibly slippery and this can cause carnage when the riders hit them at 60kph as they will as they enter the forest.

Haveluy, the sector which comes before the forest is often just as crucial as the forest itself as the fight for position starts well before the entrance to the Arenberg.

 

Exiting the Forest is also a treacherous stretch. The road is wide, open and flat but having pushed the pace through Arenberg riders tend to ease off, turn their heads as they assess the damage they’ve inflicted on the rest of the field. Looking backwards can lead to riders weaving over the road and crashing.

The race has now officially started. 254.5km of racing over some off the toughest terrain in the sport to come.

Geraint Thomas:

Fabian’s so strong that I don’t think anyone wants to wait for him to attack and then try to hold on to his wheel – and I don’t think anyone can either, so I guess it will be an aggressive race.”

 

If you missed it, here's the official race startlist. There are three former winners on the startline, Cancellara, Stuart O'Grady and Johan Vansummeren.

 

There a number of former riders in the team cars though. Marc Madiot (FDJ), Servains Knaven (Team  Sky) and Dirk Demol (RadioShack) to name a few.

One rider who certainly isn't starting today is Alexander Serebryakov. The 25-year-old returned a positive test from an out of competition control in March. Although the substance hasn't been named he has been thrown of the team. You can read all about that here.

 

The Euskaltel relaxed their stance on only hiring Basque riders this season and it's not going to plan.

The race has already passed through Janville and Thourotte and there have been a number of attacks. The first major break could take a while to form but that won't stop a number of riders attacking from the gun.

Back to the route, and the peloton will again divert from last year's course, exiting the forest to head south toward the Wallers sector, which returns after a five-season absence. The three-star sector, also known as Pont Gibus, cost Sylvain Chavanel his maillot jaune in the 2010 Tour de France.

 

What follows is a difficult portion of the course which lumps in four lengthy sectors: Hornaing (3.7km), Warlaing (2.4km), Tilloy (2.4km) and Beuvry-la-Foret (1.4km), in the space of 20km.
 

The riders will then be on familiar roads, with the route following the 2012 course straight through to the finish on the Roubaix velodrome.
 

The second five-star section comes at the Mons-en-Pévèle after 205km of racing (sector 10), and the third is the Carrefour de l'Arbre which has been the traditional launching pad of the final selection. It comes with 20km to go and is 2.1km in length.

A group of 14 riders attacked but they were immediately brought back by the peloton. A lot of teams clearly want to be in the early break this morning.

Ready.... #ParisRoubaix http://t.co/N1wve37lrj

@cedvasseur Sun, 7th Apr 2013 09:40:56

Now is probably as good a time as any to mention the plight of Omega Pharma Quick Step. The Belgian team haven't secured even a podium in the major one day spring races and they're up against it today.

 

Tom Boonen is out, Chavanel and Terpstra have been beaten by Cancellara and criticized by their own team boss, so it's difficult to see where a result could come from.

It's a similar situation the one Lefevere found themselves in, in 2001, when their best spring result coming into Roubaix was third with Roman Vainsteins at Milan-San Remo. Short of form and results, the team rallied to take a famous 1, 2, 3 in the Roubaix velodrome with Knaven leading home Museeuw and Vainsteins. Peters,  now in the team car, did so much work for them but was burnt out by the finish.

 

The point being that strength in numbers was key for them that day. They could have that today, but they don't really have a Museeuw figure to rely on.

In the race we've  seen a few more attacks from within the peloton but nothing is sticking at the moment. The bunch don't want to let any dangerous riders go but the problem is that there are so many and everyone has fresh legs so every single move is being marked.

That 2001 edition of the race took place in truly muddy conditions but the main hostilities kicked off when the peloton reached Troisvilles. Tchmill crashed and Domo - Lefevere's super team at the time  - upped the pace and started to show their strength.

 

They can't rely on the exact same tactic today because it would merely serve up a race for Cancellara to finish off, so Lefevere has to be canny and he has to make sure that one of his riders - at least one - is in every single group that goes clear.

Taylor Phinney:

Cycling is a very unpredictable sport although Fabian tries to make it relatively predictable by riding off the front. But if you have strength in numbers, we’ll see. For sure he’s the favourite. But we’re here to take that number one spot away from him and hopefully we can do that.

 

Phinney comes into the race as one of the rated favourites. This is only his second Roubaix in the pro ranks but he cracked the top 20 last year and pulled out a fine result in Milan-San Remo last month.

 

He missed Flanders due to a knee niggle but this is the big ambition race for him. BMC and even Phinney have stressed that Hushovd is the team leader, but going off form alone, Phinney has to assume that mantle.

For a full in depth look at Phinney's BMC bike, click here.

In the race we've now got a move of 13 riders up the road. We'll bring you the full  list of names as soon as we can.

Evaldas Siskevicius (Sojasun), Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale), Bjorn Thurau (Europcar), Bob Jungels (RadioShack Leopard), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma QuickStep), Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp), Jens Debuschere (Lotto), Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank), Eloy Teruel (Movistar), Clement Kortesky (Bretagne Seche) and Benjamin Lemontagner (Bretagne Seche).

223km remaining from 254km

After just over 30km of racing the break is clear by 30 seconds.

So Steegmans is the man driving the early tactics for Omega today. That's not a massive surprise because he's been a bit short of form and staying power in recent weeks, so the team clearly think that he can do a job in the first phase of the race.

 

No Shack riders in the move. Cancellara might want to save all his men for now, knowing that he and his teammates will have to do a lot of chasing later in the race.

No presence from Sky, Blanco or BMC though which is a bit of a surprise. This move might struggle to establish itself.

The leaders have just 35 seconds at the moment.

Thanks for pointing out that Jungles races for Radioshack. He is in the break so Cancellara does have a man up the road.

Alexander Kristoff:

I finished once before out of three times and I was like 57th before so I’ve not been so good on the cobbles before now but his year, I’ve been a bit better. I felt good in Flanders and I hope I can be one of the contenders but I think I need a lot of luck.

 

Morkov is the man in the move for Saxo  Bank. Last year it was his teammate Matteo Tosatto but the Italian will today use his energies to look after Matti Breschel on the cobbles. The Dane really needs a strong performance this spring.

204km remaining from 254km

We've raced 50km and the gap has remained at around the 35 second mark for some time now, with Cofidis and Netapp doing most of the chasing. Sky are near the front but at the moment they seem content with how the race is developing.

We're still a way short from the first sector of pave but here's a brief look at the sector:

 

The route turns off the main road out of the picturesque village of Troisville on to a narrow track and first timers get a nice rude awakening as to why this race is so special.

 

Mercifully, this secteur is one of the more rideable ones, it has a gentle slope in the riders' favour and isn't too badly surfaced. Only when it takes a right angle left hander towards the village of Inchy does it start to rise gradually.

The 27 cobbled sectors of Paris–Roubaix
27: Troisvilles - km 98.5, (2,200 m) ***
26: Viesly - km 105, (1,800 m) ***
25: Quiévy - km 107.5, (3,700 m) ****
24: Saint-Python - km 112.5, (1,500 m) **
23: Vertain - km 120, (2,300 m) ***
22: Verchain-Maugré - km 130, (1,600 m) ***
21: Quérénaing - Maing - km 133, (2,500 m) ***
20: Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon - km 136.5, (1,600 m) ***
19: Haveluy - km 149.5, (2,500 m) ****
18: Trouée d'Arenberg - km 158, (2,400 m) *****
17: Wallers - Hélesmes, aka "Pont Gibus" - km 164, (1,600 m) ***
16: Hornaing - km 170.5, (3,700 m) ****
15: Warlaing - Brillon - km 178, (2,400 m) ***
14: Tilloy - Sars-et-Rosières - km 181.5, (2,400 m) ****
13: Beuvry-la-Forêt - Orchies - km 188, (1,400 m) ***
12: Orchies - km 193, (1,700 m) ***
11: Auchy-lez-Orchies - Bersée - km 199, (2,600 m) ****
10: Mons-en-Pévèle - km 205, (3,000 m) *****
9: Mérignies - Avelin - km 211, (700 m) **
8: Pont-Thibaut - km 214.5, (1,400 m) ***
7: Templeuve - Moulin de Vertain - km 220.5, (500 m) **
6a: Cysoing - Bourghelles - km 227, (1,300 m) ****
6b: Bourghelles - Wannehain - km 229.5, (1,100 m) ***
5: Camphin-en-Pévèle - km 234, (1,800 m) ****
4: Le Carrefour de l'Arbre - km 236.5, (2,100 m) *****
3: Gruson - km 239, (1,100 m) **
2: Hem - km 246, (1,400 m) **
1: Roubaix - km 256.5, (300 m) *
 

Veuchelen and Morkov were actually in the first major break of last year's race too. That took a lot longer to establish though, around 70km.

197km remaining from 254km

Race radio crackles through and the gap to the 13 leaders is just 25 seconds.

Smukulis, Lemontagner and Teruel have been dropped by the leading group on the road so we're down to 10 riders in the break. The pace is still high though and the break isn't getting any relief from the peloton. At this point last year the pace from the bunch began to drop as they steadied themselves before the race into the first section of pave.

Troisvilles is by no means a hard section of cobbles in itself but it's a graveyard for so many Roubaix ambitions.

200 riders, essentially sprinting into the same small space, always produces crashes and punctures. The race really starts a few kilometres before the section begins because team leaders will want to be in the first few places as the peloton reach the sector.

 

The best place is to be first or second. Yes, it means you'll be doing some work on the front but it means you'll be out of trouble and able to pick the line you want. Once you start going backwards down the line of riders the risk level rises. Fall or puncture at that moment and you might not see the front of the race again all day.

In the lead up to the race all the teams will have been out riding recon and it doesn't matter how many times a rider has raced or even won Paris-Roubaix the conditions can always change. The winter cold snap will have affected the cobbles in different ways - so there may not be as much grass or moss between the stones, and the ditches on either side may be easier or harder to ride in compared to last year.

 

Riders with immense experience like Flecha, Klier, Hayman, they'll all know the best lines to take and will measure and alter their approach to each sector accordingly.

The majority of the break has now been caught by the peloton and only Veuchelen and Kortesky remain clear of the field.

With two riders dangling off the front of the peloton, it's an opportune moment for a counter attack, and perhaps Blanco, BMC and Sky to play their first hands. All three teams didn't have men in the first moves but if they're trying to move ahead of Cancellara before the first sector of pave, now would be a perfect moment.

Happy Birthday to Andrew Hampsten, 1988 Giro d'Italia winner and one of the Gavia's heroes! http://t.co/uif5Y84wNu (photo by @minihampsten)

@giroditalia Sun, 7th Apr 2013 11:09:40

In 2011, when Cancellara was last thwarted, the following riders made the decisive break.

 

Lars Boom (Rabobank), Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervélo), Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-Sungard), Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad), Matthew Hayman (Sky), Manuel Quinziato (BMC) and Fréderic Guesdon (FDJ).

 

The latter has since retired 'merci Frederic' but if a similar calibre of move goes this time, Cancellara will need to be attentive, either moving with it or placing a rider like Devolder in the move and instructing him to sit on.

With the gap to the previous break only reaching 35 seconds their chances were always slim. The increase in pace from the bunch as they prepare for the first sector of cobbles meant that the catch was always likely. As we have it, there are just two men left up front and we're less than 20km from the first sector of pave in this year's race.

Before the race we sat down with Fabian Cancellara and recorded this short video. He talks about his love for the pave, and his past rides. He talks about the importance of luck, time trialing to the finish, his 2010 win, and the damage he caused by winning Flanders the previous week.

169km remaining from 254km

The race is all back together now.

Fabian Cancellara:

On Wednesday I fell at 55km/h on the ground and yesterday I think was 20km/h," he said. "The differences with low speed you make more damage and I think that's what happened yesterday.

 

We've also put together this rather special gallery of images from the race, dating back to the 1930s.

There are a few sporadic attacks from the bunch but the pace is so high now that there's little chance of an escape this close to the first sector of pave.

Who is your dark horse for this year's race? Let us know on twitter, here.

Sky, BMC, Omega, IAM Cycling and RadioShack are all moving closer to the front in a bid to keep out of trouble ahead of the first sector of pave.

159km remaining from 254km

Rojas and Veelers briefly lead a four man move but they've been caught as quickly as they escaped. Less than 4 km to go until Troisvilles.

@dnlbenson I'm not sure if he's an outsider but Stannard is a complete hardman. #parisroubaix

@NeilAMatheson Sun, 7th Apr 2013 11:37:06

Le Tour report that Stannard has either crashed or had a mechanical but is chasing back to the bunch. This isn't a great time to be off the back of the bunch and Sky's team radios will be frantic right now.

 

And now the peloton has hit Troisvilles - km 98.5, (2,200 m) ***

@dnlbenson I'm cheering for Haussler here in Ballarat, Oz - or one of the greenedge boys of course! Go Heine #ParisRoubaix

@bb_projects Sun, 7th Apr 2013 11:43:07

Omega are back on the front foot with Stijn Vandenbergh off the front with Sieberg and De Backer. They have a lead of 10 seconds with the Omega rider on the front of the three-man move.

Sieberg was of course in one of the main moves in Flanders last week and Lotto had  great race, netting the final podium spot thanks to their aggressive racing.

As expected, there's been a crash in the sector and several riders have hit the deck.

Lars Bak is one of the riders the deck.

149km remaining from 254km

The crash took place on the second sector of pave, at Viesly.

The next sector is just around the corner at Quiévy and it has a four star rating.

Stannard has punctured but gets a quick wheel change and his chasing back to the main field.

Here's a reminder of the sectors of pave coming up in the next few kilometres:

 

25: Quiévy - km 107.5, (3,700 m) ****
24: Saint-Python - km 112.5, (1,500 m) **
23: Vertain - km 120, (2,300 m) ***
22: Verchain-Maugré - km 130, (1,600 m) ***
21: Quérénaing - Maing - km 133, (2,500 m) ***
20: Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon - km 136.5, (1,600 m) ***
 

The peloton now race through the feedzone with Thomas on the front of the peloton with Edvald Boasson Hagen for company.

Devolder was also in the earlier crash but he's made it back to the peloton.

Through the feedzone and Sky have started to up the pace with Thomas and Boassan Hagen, and BMC's Phinney in a small group that's 10 seconds ahead of the feed. The rest of the teams are starting to put pressure on RadioShack.

If Devolder can't make it back to the peloton that could really harm Cancellara's chances today. The Belgian rode a fantastic Tour of Flanders last week and was an integral part in Cancellara's win.

@dnlbenson my complete outsider for a top ten at least is lloyd mondory from Ag2R. Just back from injury but is hitting some form.

@oconnorAnton Sun, 7th Apr 2013 12:04:44

Onto the Saint-Python - km 112.5, (1,500 m) ** sector and the group has 8 seconds but it's putting an awful lot of pressure on the rider behind.

 

RadioShack are having to do all the chasing because they cant' let a group of Boasson Hagen, Thomas, Bozic, Phinney up the road.

The dust is being kicked up on the cobbles and the race is already beginning to stretch out.

It looks like RadioShack are about to make contact with the leaders but that will have tired out at least one of their domestiques.

Just as one dangerous move is caught, another one escapes up the road. Four men have 10 seconds Steegmans, O'Grady, Hayman and Kortesky.

RadioShack continue to set the pace because even that group can't be given too much room. O'Grady may not be the rider he once was, but he's still a former winner. Steegmans is a threat too, as well as Hayman who started the spring strongly in Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

The four leaders have stretched their lead to 16 seconds though.

129km remaining from 254km

125km left to race.

The four leaders have 30 seconds now and Sky and Omega have played their cards well.

 

But back down the Offredo has crashed right into a traffic island. He was looking back at the time and he's still on the floor now. He's sitting up but it looks like his race is over.

Onto the Verchain-Maugré and Steegmans picks a line in the middle of the road and the rest of the break follow.

 

RadioShack, they continue to lead the field with five men right at the front.
 

With the dry conditions a lot of riders are able to ride in the gutters on either side of the road but Shack's train is riding right down the centre of the pave.

Mat Hayman leads the break through the final stretches of the sector as Klier puts his arm up, it looks like he might have punctured.

News filters through that Offredo is out of the race. That's a big blow for FDJ but they still have a few cards to play.

As the leaders stretch their advantage to 39 seconds as they hit Quérénaing - Maing.

Cancellara's men continue to set the pace and are making the rest of the peloton suffer. How long can they maintain this pace though?

42 seconds for the four leaders with Hayman still doing the majority of the pace setting.

Yaroslav Popovych who was in the final break at Gent-Wevelgem is on the front of the peloton working for Cancellara but the four leaders now have 55 seconds.

It looks like Greipel who backed out of a mid-week race in order to prepare for today is now on the attack. Lotto have missed the Steegmans move so they need to try and have a man up the road.

112km remaining from 254km

1'04 for the leaders with 112km to go.

Greipel has a tough task trying to catch the leaders but he'll be hoping that more riders come across to him in the next few kilometres.

Europcar have come to the front, Garmin too, with Klier trying to position his teammates before the next cobbled section.

Cancellara has dropped back to the team car to have a chat with Demol, another former winner of the race, as the lead for the foursome is up to 2 minutes.

Van Avermaet is also near the back of the bunch too.

And Hushovd needs a new bike. He'll be fine getting back to the bunch as they've started to sit up.

Saying that, Saxo Bank have moved to the front and their entire team is setting the pace.

As Greipel sits up and waits for the peloton.

The leaders reach Haveluy , another 4 star sector, with a gap of 1'59. Europcar with Turgot in their ranks move to the front and start working with Saxo Bank.

QuickStep come to the front, they're not chasing of course, they just want good position ahead of the next sector of pave.

Greipel is about to be caught as Saxo lead the peloton onto the dusty cobbles.

Another crash and it's a Blanco rider on the deck this time.

Hushovd still hasn't made it back to the bunch and what's telling is that he's not got any teammates around him. Is he really BMC's team leader?

The former world champion finally makes it back to the bunch but he'll have to weave and fight his way to the front of the peloton now and that's going to take out a lot of energy.

Gorgeous blue skies for the race, although it's still chilly out there. There's very little wind as well.

Riis is clearly confident in Breschel today because he's making the entire Saxo team sit on the front and set the pace for the Danish rider.

 

Breschel has had a couple of tough seasons with persistent injury problems and a lack of form effecting him.

95km remaining from 254km

The lead to the four leaders is now 1'30.

As they hit the approach the Arenberg.

Steegmans is first, O'Grady second.

The road narrows and now the peloton are coming up to the forest.

And the peloton hit the cobbles and it's BMC on the front at the moment.

The entire peloton is strung out and there's a split in the field.

The gap to the leaders is down to around 50 seconds with the bunch starting to close.

A BMC rider has been joined by a rider from Argos but no name checks yet I'm afraid. They have around 30 meters on the peloton. It might be Phinney.

As Thomas has a mechanical problem on the side of the road.

The four leaders now leave the section

It is Phinney who is leading the bunch through the Forest. He's doing all the work but the Forest hasn't been that decisive yet.

Phinney sits up as he exists the forest and takes a drink, allowing more riders to move back to the front of the peloton.

Lars Boom is near the front of the bunch, Chavanel too as BMC launch an attack.

The move is quickly shut down by Omega and Blanco though and there are around 40-50 riders in the main peloton.

This stop start pace  is playing into the hands of Cancellara who can sit tight for now. In 2010 he took off with around 50km to go, so it will be interesting to see if he does the same here today or wait for the final sector of cobbles.

Cofidis send a rider up the road now, and three riders counter the move.

The four leaders hit the Wallers - Hélesmes with a lead of 26 seconds.

@dnlbenson Dark Horse ? Everybody ! Too strong Fabian ! 1 name ? Daniel Oss (BMC)

@Uya5555 Sun, 7th Apr 2013 11:52:27

The four leaders have 24 seconds but there's a chase group of 7 just behind them.

O'Grady is pushing on but the bunch looks like it's going to catch the 7 man counter attack.

And RadioShack once again have come to the front of the peloton. They'll want to shut the counter attack down but they may leave the four leaders out there for a while yet.

The seven man move is caught as Hayman leads onto the Hornaing - km 170.5, (3,700 m) ****

The leaders only have 11 seconds though and this section could end their escape as Cancellara's men continue to speed up.

Michael Schär (BMC) has attacked from the peloton. Shack have given him a few seconds already.

The four leaders have split with Steegmans and Hayman going clear. The bunch are at 31 seconds with  Schar somewhere in between.

Steegmans and Hayman have extended their lead. Interesting, Lefevere talked about a possible alliance between his team and Sky coming into the race.

73km remaining from 254km

A large crash in the main field. Bozic, and Thomas both down.

The Sky rider is back up and chasing but that's certainly not going to help his chances as Kortesky punctures.

Schar has made it to O'Grady's wheel though so BMC have a rider well placed.

 

At least a dozen riders were caught up in that fall though, with several riders ending up in a ditch. It's caused total panic as De Backer and Klier are off the back. Pozzato was also held up by the crash and he's forced to chase as well.

It could be all over for Pozzato who is losing ground as up ahead RadioShack continue to do all the work on the front of the peloton.

O'Grady isn't giving the BMC rider any support though as Hayman and Steegmans move their advantage to one minute.

If Schar can catch the two leaders then I'm guessing O'Grady will start working again.

O'Grady simply doesn't have it and he's been left behind by Schar.

 

Back in the peloton and Hushovd has another puncture.

68km remaining from 254km

68km to go and the two leaders have 1'12 over the RadioShack led peloton. Cancellara still has three men with him as Vansummeren moves up to the front of the peloton for the first time.

As Hushovd makes it back to the peloton once more. Still, he had to do that all on his own with no teammates to help him. If Cancellara had a flat he'd been surrounded by teammates for the chase back.

64km remaining from 254km

Steegmans and Hayman tackle Beuvry-la-Forêt - Orchies - km 188, (1,400 m) *** and the Belgian sets the pace, with Schar doing a decent job of trying to close the gap.

The peloton are 1'13 down on the two leaders.

@dnlbenson Weird feeling that today could be @taylorphinney's date with destiny. This is Taylor-made for him. #parisroubaix

@jobilli85 Sun, 7th Apr 2013 13:38:13

As O'Grady is caught by the bunch as Maarten Wijnants (Blanco) goes on the attack.

At the moment RadioShack's plan is to keep every move within a minute or two, hold them and then wait for Cancellara to attack, safe in the knowledge that he can close the final gap himself.

The two-time winner is going to start to run out of teammates at some point though. It looks like he has two left at the moment.

It looks like the Blanco move was shut down but Gaudin has attacked but there's been another crash. Four riders hit the deck and FDJ's poor luck continues with Matthieu Ladagnous one of the riders caught up. He's on the bike and chasing, which is a good sign.

Visconti was also involved in the fall too.

Orchies where Cancellara has attacked before. It's a very tough section but Schar is cutting over the cobbles nicely here.

 

Stannard is near the front of the peloton for Sky now, Eisel too, as the race for the section begins.

Vacansoleil leading onto the cobbles, 58km to go

And Schar makes it three riders at the front of the race.

Will the BMC rider try and blast past them or will the three teams work together?

Gaudin is bashing away on the pedals but is style is at least effective. He grabs a bidon and then carries on his chase as O'Grady is dropped from the peloton.

An attack from Cannondale Boasson Hagen marks it, with a BMC rider on his wheel. Omega shut the move down and the favourites all look at each other. There are a lot of strong riders left.

Bonnet, Stannard and Breschel are in a counter attack with two other riders.Guarnieri and Elmiger are the other two men.

They only have about 50 meters and it doesn't look like the peloton will let them go.


Up the road and the three leaders are working well together.

Gaudin is still plugging away and he has the leaders at just 15 seconds.

51km remaining from 254km

The Breschel group is about to be caught and the gap to the leaders is down to 25 seconds. Cancellara is down to just one or two teammates and now Cancellara moves to the front.

He's brought about 30 riders with him.

Chavanel , Hushovd, Eisel they are all there. Cancellara has a major fight on his hands.

Cancellara upped the pace and he's causing major panic behind. The main favourites are all there though. Chavanel is second wheel and he looks good.

Turgot and Boom are there as Ramon Sinkeldam attacks.

Gaudin is about to catch the leaders too. And does so.

An attack from Blanco now as Cancellara takes his foot off the gas. Hushovd moves up and sits on the front with Vansummeren, a former teammate on his wheel.

The race is on a knife edge as a number of riders are trying to slip clear. Cancellara is trying to force the others into playing their cards too soon, perhaps.

Terpstra hits the front with Paolini on his wheel because Vansummeren has a little gap with one other rider.

As Omega begin to close everything down with 48km to and onto the Mons-en-Pévèle - km 205, (3,000 m) *****

Terpstra has the race strung out and now the break has been caught.

Lars Boom is now on the front but he's not going at full speed. He sits up and allows the rest of the peloton to catch him, Vansummeren has a puncture.

The field is at about 20 rider as Flecha takes over and Boom gets on his wheel.

John Degenkolb is in trouble now and is dangling off the back  of the peloton.

Omega are really winding up the pace with Terpstra in second wheel.

They come through the sector and look back at the damage they've done.

There's a split in the field with Cancellara having made the use of Omega's tactics. Langeveld is there, Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh and a few others.

 

Hushovd,  Boasson Hagen, Stannard... they've been dropped and it could be race over because the gap is increasing.

Two groups are forming now at the front of the race and Chavanel is there, two from Europcar as well.

Haussler is there, and Paolini.

There is one Sky rider in the break, I think it's Eisel, Kristoff is there as well as they start the next section of cobbles with Omega , who have three riders, on the front.

41km remaining from 254km

Turgot who was in the lead group has a rear wheel flat. It's taking forever to change the wheel though.

BMC have just one man in the move and it's not Phinney or Hushovd. Gaudin is looking for Turgot but he can't sit up and wait for his leader.

Eisel is sticking on Cancellara's wheel and he's not moving one inch. The two former Mapei riders know each other so well.

And Chavanel needs a new bike.

As Stijn Vandenbergh  pushes on at the front as the leaders reach Pont-Thibaut - km 214.5, (1,400 m) ***

The Belgian is setting a furious pace on the front with Langeveld glued to his wheel. And Paolini has launched a move. Stybar is in the lead group, with Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh.

 

Chavanel is chasing with the second group.

The leaders are: Stybar, Terpstra et Vandenbergh (OPQ), Gaudin (EUC), Cancellara (RLT), Van Avermaet (BMC), Eisel (SKY), Boom et Vanmarcke (BLA), Paolini (KAT), Langeveld (OGE) and Flecha (VCD).

Van Avermaet is trying to get others to work with him but everyone is looking at each other, and especially Cancellara, who at the moment is just sitting in.

Pozzato is in a chase group with Haussler.

A reminder of the leaders: Stybar, Terpstra and Vandenbergh (OPQ), Gaudin (EUC), Cancellara (RLT), Van Avermaet (BMC), Eisel (SKY), Boom and Vanmarcke (BLA), Paolini (KAT), Langeveld (OGE) et Flecha (VCD).

Cancellara looks cooked. He's at the team car and even though he's being marked he looks to be in trouble.

The race is slipping away and Van Avermaet and Flecha are clear.

Half the group went back to the Shack car with Cancellara, they were that worried about marking him, but they may have lost the race now.

So in the lead now: Vandenbergh, Gaudin, Vanmarcke, Langeveld,

 

Then Stybar, Van Avermaet, Paolini and Flecha at 12 seconds,

 

Then Cancellara, Terpstra, Eisel and Boom at 20 seconds.

The Cancellara group look in trouble and the RadioShack rider, if he has anything left, needs to make a move on the next section of cobbles.

Cancellara is 20 seconds off the four leaders.

The two lead groups reform but behind Cancellara attacks and drops Terpstra, Boom and Eisel. That was a great move.

Cancellara has distanced three of his biggest rivals and with 30 km to go he's coming back to the leaders. Who are sitting up and waiting for him.

Vandenbergh doesnt want to wait and him and Vanmarcke are pushing on.

And Cancellara catches the leaders, slipping onto Flecha's wheel.

The new leaders are :

Vandenbergh and Vanmarcke and then

Stybar, OPQ), Gaudin (EUC), Cancellara (RLT), Van Avermaet (BMC), Paolini (KAT), Langeveld (OGE) and Flecha (VCD).

The two leaders have 10 seconds on the Cancellara group.

And now Terpstra has made it over to the Cancellara group too.

27km remaining from 254km

27km to and Gaudin is trying to make a move as well.

Cancellara is so relaxed. He's clearly strong but he's making everyone else do the chasing at the moment. The two leaders have 20 seconds.

Vanmarcke is having a great race though and is using the QuickStep tactics to help forge a decent lead.

30 seconds is the gap. How long before Cancellara makes a move?

Flecha is pushing the pace now

Here' s a review of the bike Cancellara is currently riding.

Flecha doesn't want the Chavanel group coming back but the two leaders up the road now have 40 seconds with 24km to go.

Flecha has the chasers strung out and Paolini has a puncture.

Gaudin attacks again. Terpstra is trying to bridge across.

Gaudin is caught as Flecha and Langeveld, two former Rabobank teammates talk at the back of the group.

And Cancellara hits the front with Stybar on his wheel.

Van Avermaet is chasing but Cancellara is riding away with just Stybar for company at the moment.

Terpstra looks to have blown and he cant/wont chase with Stybar with Cancellara and Van Avermaet has blown too.

Cancellara is going to make it two Omega riders in the front group if he can close this gap. It's at 22 seconds.

Cancellara will want to make the catch before the Le Carrefour de l'Arbre.

The gap is down to 15 seconds. Cancellara, at the moment, is just picking apart his rivals one by one.

Cancellara has the gap at 11 seconds.

20km remaining from 254km

This is bit like watching Bartoli in the 1997 edition of Liege Bastogne Liege.

19km remaining from 254km

19km to go and now we have four leaders on the road.

The four leaders have 34 seconds on the Terpstra group as the start the Camphin-en-Pévèle - km 234, (1,800 m) ****

Stybar sits at the back, will Cancellara fear an attack from the Quickstep rider?

The second group is at 34 seconds.

Vanmarcke and Stybar are pretty handy in the sprint so Cancellara will want to attack on the next section, the hardest section between now and the finish.

On the most critical section left as Vanmarcke leads.

Vandenbergh who was struggling to keep up crashes into a fan.

Vanmarcke still leads with Cancellara on his wheel and Stybar there too.

Vanmarcke still  leads and Cancellara now stamps on the pedals.

The RadioShack rider can't get a gap.

And Vanmarcke hits the front once again.

Stybar isn't moving from Cancellara's wheel.

And now Stybar clips a fan and he's dropped as he just manages to keep upright. He's not going to come back. what bad luck for the Omega rider.

And now we just have two riders at the front of the race.

14km remaining from 254km

14km to go and Cancellara and Vanmarcke are sharing the pace.

The leading pair have 10 seconds on Stybar.

Vanmarcke is a good sprinter, he's beaten Boonen before. This is a much longer and more difficult race but it will be fascinating to see whether Cancellara tries to drop the Blanco rider before the finish.

Stybar now runs a corner wide. He's simply exhausted,  and needs to pull a foot from a pedal. He'll be caught by the Terpstra group soon.

Cancellara and Vanmarcke are sharing the work.

The leading duo have 28 seconds.

11km remaining from 254km

11km to go in the race.

The gap is at 32 seconds and continues to grow. Vanmarcke who has been plagued by injury throughout the spring is matching Cancellara pedal stroke for pedal stroke. The RadioShack rider gives his last rider a stare as he comes through and takes a turn.

There's just one section of cobbles left. Cancellara takes another long turn and Vanmarcke looks like he's struggling. Cancellara starts asking for help but it's not coming.

But Vanmarcke comes through, and is in a prime position for Cancellara to  attack him.

Cancellara is following.

The Blanco rider still on the front.

He even has a meter or two on Cancellara.

The gap is closed.

The gap is now at 1'21.

The Blanco rider is leading all the way through this section and Cancellara again appears to be suffering.

The RadioShack riders takes up the pace again, he didn't take a tap on the front in the last section of cobbles.

Stybar still has 30 seconds on the chase group of Terpstra and Flecha.

5km remaining from 254km

Just over 5km to go.

And out of no where Stybar has been joined by Flecha.

Stybar and Flecha have been caught.

And Cancellara attacks.

4km to go and the move is closed down.

Now Vanmarcke is glued to Cancellara, he taps through and takes a short, tentative turn, and then Cancellara follow.

As Flecha attacks but is caught again in the second group.

3km to go and the gap is at 1'19.

The pair are talking now and Cancellara drifts back before taking another short turn on the front. They'll be at the velodrome soon enough.

Cancellara has ridden everyone off his wheel today, but he's still got Vanmarcke with him.

Into the final km and they've slowed right down.

Cancellara is on the front as they come onto the track.

Vanmarcke comes down off the banking and will lead out.

The bell!

Vanmarcke leads...

Cancellara takes it.

Cancellara tried to come over the top but had to check his line, Vanmarcke dived onto the inside but the RadioShack rider just had enough to come through and take the win.

It looked like Terpstra took third.

Riders are still trickling over the line but we'll bring you the top ten as soon as we can.

1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Leopard 5:45:33
2 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team Blanco 0:00:00
3 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick Step 0:00:31
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC 0:00:31
5 Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:31
6 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma Quick Step 0:00:39
7 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:39
8 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM 0:00:39
9 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 0:00:50
10 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:50

So Cancellara seals his third Paris-Roubaix title in the most impressive fashion. He wasn't just the strongest today, he was also perhaps the smartest. The way in which he disposed of Boom, Eisel and Terpstra before jumping from group to group were the defining moments of an excellent Paris-Roubaix.

Luck  of course played a part with two QuickStep riders crashing into the crowd but take nothing away from Cancellara's win, and Sep Vanmarcke's ride too.

You can read our report, and results here. We're just uploading race images now too.

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