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Van Avermaet wins Paris-Roubaix

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) finally has his Monument after claiming victory in a breathless edition of Paris-Roubaix, the fastest in the race's history.

At various junctures, the cause seemed lost, and even on the final lap of the velodrome, it briefly appeared as though the Belgian had squandered his chance. This time, however, Van Avermaet was not to be denied, as he saw off Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) and Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac) in the finishing sprint to shake off the very last vestiges of his nearly-man tag.

Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors), riding in his final race as a professional, was prominent throughout and part of the key selection that formed after Mons-en-Pévéle, but he was caught on the wrong side when the leading group split with 30 kilometres remaining. Despite showing flashes of his force of old on the Carrefour de l'Arbre, where he was willed on by an expectant public, he was unable to close the gap. He finished the race in the large chasing group that came home 12 seconds down on Van Avermaet, and ends his career level with Roger De Vlaeminck on four Paris-Roubaix victories.

The decisive move took shape in installments over one of the least fearsome sectors of cobbles, at Templeneuve with 30 kilometres to go, as Van Avermaet, Stybar and Langeveld joined Gianni Moscon (Sky), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) in pursuit of earlier attacker Daniel Oss (BMC). A lone chase attempt by world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was interrupted by a puncture, and the septet out front quickly opened a lead of 30 seconds over the Boonen group behind.

Van Avermaet laid down a fierce acceleration on the jagged cobbles of the Carrefour de l'Arbre with 16 kilometres remaining and only Stybar and Langeveld were still with him out the other end, and that trio continued to augment its advantage over the rest of the field over the remaining three sectors of pavé.

Not even Stybar's repeated refusal to contribute could stall their progress. When Stybar attacked his companions four kilometres from the velodrome, however, Van Avermaet's ire was obvious as he shut down the move and then forced the Quick-Step man to close down Langeveld's subsequent attack.

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Perhaps unbeknownst to the three leaders, they had begun to fritter away their healthy lead over a chasing Moscon and Stuyven amid the ensuing game of cat and mouse. Van Avermaet led into the velodrome, and when Stybar almost brought them to a halt as he soft-pedalled to the top of the banking, Moscon and Stuyven were suddenly upon them.

Moscon had the gumption to attack immediately, and were it not for his obvious fatigue, his might have been a winning gap. Instead Stybar swooped down the banking in pursuit and then launched his sprint, but Stybar's effort served only to lead out Van Avermaet, who claimed a decisive win, punching the air in relief as much as in joy as he crossed the line. The Olympic champion has been in a rich vein of form this spring, winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and now Paris-Roubaix, and placing second at the Tour of Flanders for good measure.

"I didn't think Paris-Roubaix was going to be the Monument for me," Van Avermaet said afterwards. "In the end I was a bit afraid of Stybar because he wasn't working with us. I'm really happy to have finally won a Monument because I've had a long wait for this."

The Boonen chasing group swelled in size on the run-in and reached the finish just 12 seconds down on Van Avermaet, with Arnaud Démare (FDJ) winning the sprint for sixth ahead of André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo).

Van Avermaet's average speed of 45.204kph was the fastest in the history of the race, outstripping the longstanding record set by Peter Post in 1964, when the race featured far fewer cobbled kilometres. The peloton was puffed along by a strong tailwind early on, but it was still a brutally difficult day of racing. No early break gained any real purchase before the first cobbles at Troisvilles, and there was scarcely a lull in the entire 260 kilometres.

Van Avermaet's win was all the more notable given that he went down in a crash shortly before the Arenberg Forest, replaced his bike and then spent more than 20 kilometres chasing back on as Quick-Step turned the screws up ahead. Not for the first time this spring, he seemed to have ample energy to spare. "I had a bit of bad luck before the Arenberg but the team did good work," he said. "Everybody was in the right place for me and Daniel Oss did really good work and everything came together for me."

How it unfolded

The peloton left the Place Charles de Gaulle in Compiègne under pleasant sunshine and was puffed along by a tailwind that had seen the start delayed by 15 minutes in a bid to keep the finish to its originally scheduled time. More than 50.5 kilometres were covered in the first hour of racing as no break established itself and there was little let-up thereafter. The first break, featuring Yannick Martinez (Delko Marseille), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) and Mickaël Delage (FDJ), forged clear only just before the first sector of cobbles at Troisville and never had more than 45 seconds on the peloton.

On sector 28 – the second of 29, which count down to Roubaix – Oliver Naesen (AG2R), Lukasz Wiśniowski (Sky), Nicolas Dougall (Dimension Data) and Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) went down in a crash, while shortly afterwards, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) fell in another incident. Before the cobbles, meanwhile, Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) went down, though the Australian managed to bridge back up.

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Shortly after sector 24, Stijn Vandenbergh (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked from the peloton and joined with Wallays and Delage at the front. At that point, Katusha-Alpecin were controlling affairs in the peloton. Meanwhile, 2014 winner Nikki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors), already caught behind an earlier crash, hit the ground hard on the cobbles near Maing and abandoned soon afterwards.

Come the Trouée d'Arenberg, the three leaders had an advantage of almost a minute on the peloton, where Quick-Step had taken up the reins just as Van Avermaet crashed on the preceding section at Wallers. The Olympic champion had to close a 40-second gap to get back in the race.

Wallays and Vandenbergh rid themselves of Delage on the Arenberg, while Trentin and Katusha's Tony Martin set the pace in the peloton, as Boonen, Sagan and Trek's John Degenkolb followed. Van Avermaet found an ally of circumstance in puncture victim Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) on the other side of the forest and they eventually bridged back up.

Ahead of sector 18, Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) attacked and enjoyed a brief rally off the front, but the first significant move came after sector 17 at Hornaing. With 75 kilometres remaining, Sagan ripped off the front with his teammate Maciej Bodnar, as well as Oss and Stuyven, opening up a gap of 30 seconds over the bunch. It was an ambitious attack from Sagan, but a puncture forced him and Bodnar out of the move, leaving Stuyven and Oss out in front.

With 60 kilometres to go, Oss and Stuyven had 30 seconds in hand on a 30-man group that included Boonen, Sagan and just about every real contender bar puncture victim Oliver Naesan. Sagan showed further aggression on the cobbles at Mons-en-Pévéle, helping to split the chasers and peg back Oss and Stuyven. With 40 kilometres to go, 15 men remained in front: Roelandts, Moscon, Oss, Van Avermaet, Stuyven, Degenkolb, Sagan, Boonen, Stybar, Langeveld, Chavanel, Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott), Dimitri Claeys (Cofidis), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) and Bert De Backer (Sunweb).

On sector 9, Van Avermaet's teammate Oss went up the road once again, and the Italian would prove a most useful foil in the finale. The flurry of attacks approaching Templeuve, triggered by Langeveld and Roelandts, helped to give shape to the winning move, as Van Avermaet, Stybar, Moscon and Stuyven came across. Sagan looked to follow, but suffered a most inopportune rear wheel puncture, and his challenge faded. Boonen, for his part, was caught on the wrong side of the split, and his dream of a valedictory win disappeared up the road, even if he raged against the dying of the light all the way to the gates of famous old velodrome.

It was instead left to Stybar to carry Quick-Step Floors' hopes, but despite his persistence in using Boonen as a pretext not to work, the day – and the spring – belonged to Van Avermaet.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team5:41:07
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
3Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
4Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky
6Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ0:00:12
7André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
8Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
10John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
11Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-Scott
12Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
13Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
14Yoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
15Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
16Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
17Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
18Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
19Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie
20Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
21Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
22Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:20
23Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:26
24Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:00:36
25Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Sunweb0:02:24
26Marco Marcato (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
27Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
28Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
29Koen De Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
30Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
31Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
32Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Sunweb
33Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
34Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
35Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:01
36Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data0:03:30
37Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:03:45
38Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:05:12
39Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:05:44
40Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team0:07:12
41Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team0:09:41
42Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
43Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ
44Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
45Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ
46Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin
47Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
48Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin
49Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
50Ryan Mullen (Irl) Cannondale-Drapac
51Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
52Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
53Scott Thwaites (GBr) Dimension Data
54Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal
55Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept
56Miles Scotson (Aus) BMC Racing Team
57Maxime Farazijn (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
58Olivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ
59Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
60Jorge Arcas Peña (Spa) Movistar Team
61Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
62Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo
63Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
64Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
65Tom Scully (NZl) Cannondale-Drapac
66Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team
67Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott
68Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
69Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
70William Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac
71Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb
72Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
73Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
74Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
75Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
76Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
77Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:09:48
78Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:09:53
79Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:09:55
80Wesley Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
81Francis Mourey (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept
82Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
83Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-Scott0:14:06
84Marc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ
85Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:18:28
86Franck Bonnamour (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept
87Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
88Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
89Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
90Alexander Edmonson (Aus) Orica-Scott0:20:44
91Mitch Docker (Aus) Orica-Scott
92Truls Korsaeth (Nor) Astana Pro Team
93David Per (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
94Amund Grondahl Jansen (Nor) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
95Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
96Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
97Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
98Julien Vermote (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
99Matti Breschel (Den) Astana Pro Team
100Boris Vallee (Bel) Fortuneo - Vital Concept
101Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida0:20:50
102Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data0:27:12
OTLBerden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij0:30:49
OTLJonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
OTLIon Insausti (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
OTLTyler Farrar (USA) Dimension Data
OTLPatrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale-Drapac0:32:06
OTLBorut Bozic (Slo) Bahrain-Merida0:32:19
OTLOwain Doull (GBr) Team Sky0:33:44
OTLAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
OTLBenoit Jarrier (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept
OTLErwann Corbel (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept
OTLMaarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:34:01
OTLLoic Chetout (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:34:17
OTLDaniel Mclay (GBr) Fortuneo - Vital Concept0:34:28
OTLTwan Castelijns (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:34:30
OTLBrian Van Goethem (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij0:38:49
OTLRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie
OTLTaco Van Der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
OTLZhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:45:19
OTLJonathan Dibben (GBr) Team Sky0:46:45
DNFSam Bewley (NZl) Orica-Scott
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-Scott
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
DNFNiki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
DNFLuke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky
DNFTom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac
DNFNick Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFRyan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFTony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
DNFMatthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFAleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFRüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMartin Elmiger (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNFStefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNFFrancisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
DNFGijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Team LottNl-Jumbo
DNFRobert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
DNFNuno Matos (Por) Movistar Team
DNFHéctor Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFNelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) FDJ
DNFDaniel Hoelgaard (Nor) FDJ
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) FDJ
DNFAntoine Duchesne (Can) Direct Energie
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFTony Hurel (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFAlexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFRudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFNico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFSøren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Team Sunweb
DNFAlbert Timmer (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFAlexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFMichael Morkov (Den) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFHugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFCyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFBenjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFArman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFRiccardo Minali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFFrederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFMark Mcnally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFGuillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFDanilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFMaxime Daniel (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
DNFAndre Looij (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
DNFElmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
DNFCoen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
DNFIvan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
DNFMeiyin Wang (Chn) Bahrain-Merida
DNFSacha Modolo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
DNFMatteo Bono (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
DNFRoberto Ferrari (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
DNFAndrea Guardini (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
DNFMarko Kump (Slo) Team UAE Emirates
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
DNFFederico Zurlo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
DNFYannick Martinez (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM
DNFMikel Aristi (Spa) Delko Marseille Provence KTM
DNFBenjamin Giraud (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM
DNFMartin Laas (Est) Delko Marseille Provence KTM
DNFRomain Lemarchand (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM
DNFEvaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Delko Marseille Provence KTM
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) Delko Marseille Provence KTM


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