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Degenkolb wins Paris-Roubaix

John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) rode a near-perfect race to take the 2015 edition of Paris-Roubaix in a sprint finish ahead of Zdeněk Štybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).

The German rider latched onto a dangerous move initiated by Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep), and even after the lead group swelled to seven riders he had more than enough to take his second Monument of the season after winning Milan-San Remo last month.

"This is the race I’ve always dreamt of winning," Degenkolb said before hugging his teammates at the finish.

In a race that ebbed and flowed with different dynamics and groups coming into play with each sector of cobbles, Degenkolb stood out, not just for his expected strong finish – he was second on the velodrome last year – but for his aggression and precision at key points in the race.

When Van Avermaet and Lampaert created a small buffer on the elite contenders inside the final 12 kilometres Degenkolb’s teammate Bert De Backer jumped clear. It created an opportunity for Degenkolb to follow just moments later and he quickly linked up with his teammate before forging clear and joining Van Avermaet and Lampaert.

When the Etixx rider understandably refused to work Degenkolb didn't panic. He and Van Avermaet continued to share the work as a move that included Stybar, Lars Boom and Jens Keukeleire joined up to form the final winning break inside the final few kilometres.

Coming into the velodrome it was Etixx who hit the front with Stybar in second wheel and Degenkolb riding in his slipstream. When the Milan-San Remo winner opened his sprint on the final banking there was little challenge from the rest of the break. Stybar hung on for second with Van Avermaet claimed yet another podium in a spring Monument.

"This is unbelievable. I can’t believe it, right now. I’ve had to work very hard for it and my team was there the whole day to hold the situation under control, until I could start my race. We knew that it was going to be hard and that a big group could go to the finish. I was in a situation that I had to go, otherwise I’d be in the same situation as last year [when he finished second behind lone winner Terpstra, ed.]. I had to invest something and I was not afraid to fail. That was the key.

"When you are probably the fastest guy, nobody wants to work with you and bring you to the finish. That’s why I decided to go by myself. I think it was the right decision and at the right moment. It was really, really hard but I’m just so happy and proud."

How it unfolded

In stark contrast to the grey clouds, wind and rain that featured in Compiègne on Saturday, the 200 riders who lined up at the start line on Sunday were treated to sun and a favourable tailwind that blew them towards the first of 27 sectors of pavé.

A blistering fast hour of racing at an average of 50 km/h featured a lot of attacks and despite the high-speed nine riders managed to power away. They were Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Grégory Rast (Trek Factory Racing), Alexis Gougéard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Adam Blythe (Orica-GreenEdge), Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Ralf Matzka (Bora-Argon 18) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

After 75 kilometres of racing the nine had a maximum lead of 10 minutes over the peloton with Team Sky and Katusha starting to pick up the speed.

The gap slowly started to come down on the third sector of pavé while heading towards the first monstrous sector of Arenberg. Just before the forest team Sky’s Geraint Thomas flatted, forcing him to start the Arenberg at the back of the peloton.

BMC led the main field over the first part of the Arenberg, about five minutes behind the leaders.

Possibly due to the dry weather conditions, there were few incidents and a large group exited the forest at more than five minutes from the leaders, where Sean De Bie punctured. Bradley Wiggins was among the riders who was distanced but he quickly returned.

On a railroad crossing after the Arenberg forest, a major incident occurred with train barriers coming down with three quarters of the peloton ignoring the lights and slaloming over the tracks shortly before a TGV-train passed through. A little later, the race jury placed motorbikes in front of the peloton to make them wait for the riders who were held up.

The Etixx-QuickStep team made their first surge at sector 14 over the Tilloy – Sars-et-Rosières, after 180 kilometres of racing, while trailing the leaders by less than four minutes.

After coming off the sector the course turned briefly right, resulting in a section with crosswinds. Five Etixx–QuickStep riders featured at front of the peloton and created a lot of damage. Van Avermaet and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) were among the riders who were caught behind in a second echelon, and Wiggins even further behind, but they all managed to work their way back into the mix.

With just over 50 kilometres from the finish the peloton hit pavé sector 11 over the Auchy-lez-Orchies – Bersée at less than two minutes from the break. While Slovakian champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) accelerated, his teammate Matti Breschel and former winner Johan Vansummeren (AG2R-La Mondiale) were among the victims of a crash just before the Mons-en-Pévèle at sector 10.

The remains of the peloton – about 40 riders - hit the cobbles and Etixx–QuickStep made a second move with a fierce acceleration into crosswinds from Stijn Vandenbergh. In the peloton, FDJ took the initiative on sector 9 over the Mérignies – Avelin with Yoann Offredo leading out French champion Arnaud Démare. The FDJ-led field was about 15 seconds down on Vandenbergh, who was a minute down on the five leaders.

Wiggins lived up to his role of favourite by emerging alone at Moulin de Vertain. The former Tour de France winner quickly caught up with Vandenbergh, and Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) and Stybar also bridged across.

Katusha worked hard in the peloton to bring the Wiggins-group back, which happened just before sector 6 through the Cysoing – Bourghelles. Lars Boom (Astana) led the peloton over the sector with the breakaway group within sight.

The move from Boom caused damage in the peloton and once off the cobbles Van Avermaet and Sagan kept the pace high.

On the following sector of Bourghelles - Wannehain, last year’s winner Niki Tersptra attacked. Once off the cobbles an select group bridged up to the breakaway. The pace dropped back and with 21 kilometres to go about 20 riders were together in front of the race.

In front Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) and Borut Bozic (Astana) attacked, however, on the cobbles of Camphin-en-Pévèle (sector 5) Roelandts dropped the Astana rider ahead of the typically crucial sector of Le Carrefour de l’Arbre.

Thought it was a strong late-race effort, the Lotto-Soudal rider was reeled in with 14 kilometres to go after a ferocious acceleration from Boom. Once caught, the lull in pace allowed Van Avermaet and Lampaert to jump clear.

With the pair still within sight, De Backer set up Degenkolb.

Even when Stybar, and then a trio of Boom, Elmiger and Keukeleire made it seven riders at the front of the race, Degenkolb remained composed. With Sagan and Kristoff out of the picture, he was undoubtedly the fastest finisher in the group.

He kept close to the front and survived the final and relatively gentle sector of cobbles in Roubaix, and rounded the track before doing what he does best — winning the sprint to the line.

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin5:49:51
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team
5Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
6Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge
7Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:07
8Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky0:00:28
9Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:29
10Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha0:00:31
11Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
12Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
13Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling
14Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
15Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step
16Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
17Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
18Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
19Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
20Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
21Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
22Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
23Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
24Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team0:01:38
25Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
26Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
27Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:02:21
28André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:02:55
29Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
30Tim De Troyer (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
31Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
32Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ.fr
33Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
34Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
35Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal
36Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:02:58
37Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr0:03:21
38Benoit Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
39Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
40Yannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar0:03:24
41Tim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
42Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
43Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
44Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha
45Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
46Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
47Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky0:03:29
48Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha0:06:05
49Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
50Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha
51Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step0:07:35
52Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:48
53Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:07:50
54Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - Qhubeka
55Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
56Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Team Europcar
57Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
58Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
59Frederico Zurlo (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
60Davide Frattini (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
61Nelson Oliveira (Por) Lampre-Merida
62Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
63Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team
64Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
65Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
66Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team
67Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
68Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
69Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18
70Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha
71Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky
72Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
73Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
74Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek Factory Racing
75Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
76Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
77Jack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:07:56
78Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
79John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team
80Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
81Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
82William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ.fr
83Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
84Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:13
85Adam Blythe (GBr) Orica GreenEdge0:08:24
86Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:10:53
87Thomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
88Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:11:59
89Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo0:12:25
90Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling0:13:06
91Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
92Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Bora-Argon 18
93Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo0:15:21
94Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling
95Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
96Ralf Matzka (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
97Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
98Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Bora-Argon 180:16:32
99Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
100Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
101Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement0:17:16
102Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge0:17:24
103Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
104David Boucher (Fra) FDJ.fr
105Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky
106Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
107Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
108Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
109Antoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar
110Gert Joeaar (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:17:27
111Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
112Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
113John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
114Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
115Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing0:17:32
116Pieter Van Speybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
117Simone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:17:34
118Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
119Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:17:39
120Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
121Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
122Christophe Laborie (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
123Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:24:54
124Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
125Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
126Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
127Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
128Julien Morice (Fra) Team Europcar
129Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
130Frédéric Brun (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
131Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:27:12
132Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge
133Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
OTLSam Bewley (NZl) Orica GreenEdge
OTLMorgan Lamoisson (Fra) Team Europcar
OTLDaniil Fominykh (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
OTLTanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
OTLIljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
OTLShane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Argon 18
OTLJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFAdrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFAndreas Stauff (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFGerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFMatt Brammeier (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFThéo Bos (Ned) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFYauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
DNFKenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFMurilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ.fr
DNFCyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFJonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFRuben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
DNFKristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
DNFClément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFKevin Ledanois (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
DNFJelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFGiovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFVincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFJames Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFJesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFAdriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team
DNFJose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFEnrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFJasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team
DNFChristoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
DNFDaniel Mclay (GBr) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
DNFRüdiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha
DNFVladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team Katusha
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFBram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky
DNFGeraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) FDJ.fr
DNFRobert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.fr
DNFMaxat Ayazbayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ.fr
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team
DNFJonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
DNFHayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing
DNFGert Steegmans (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) Orica GreenEdge
DNFHugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFChun Kai Feng (Tpe) Lampre-Merida
DNFManuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre-Merida
DNFAriel Maximiliano RICHEZE
DNFMatthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
DNFJérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling
DNFRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team

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