The peloton is gathering in Compiegne for the start of Paris-Roubaix. The roll-out from Place du General de Gaulle is at 11am local time, with the race set to hit kilometre zero at 11.15.
The peloton is navigating the neutralised zone outside Compiegne. It's a pleasantly bright morning in northern France, and it's set to be a dry afternoon in Hell. Temperatures will top out around 10 degrees in the afternoon.
There are 29 cobbled sectors on the route of this year's Paris-Roubaix, for a total of 54.5km of pavé. The sectors are as follows:
29: Troisvilles to Inchy (km 97.5 - 0.9 km) **
28: Briastre to Viesly (km 108.5 - 3 km) ****
27: Viesly to Quiévy (km 101.5 - 1.8 km) ***
26: Quiévy to Saint-Python (km 116 - 3.7 km) ****
25: Saint-Python (km 118.5 - 1.5 km) **
24: Vertain to Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon (km 127.5 - 2.3 km) ***
23: Verchain-Maugré to Quérénaing (km 136.5 - 1.6 km) ***
22: Quérénaing to Maing (km 140.5 - 2.5 km) ***
21: Maing to Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 142.5 - 1.6 km) ***
20: Haveluy to Wallers (km 156.5 - 2.5 km) ****
19: Trouée d'Arenberg (km 164.5 - 2.3 km) *****
18: Wallers to Hélesmes (km 170 - 1.6 km) ***
17: Hornaing to Wandignies (km 179 - 3.7 km) ****
16: Warlaing to Brillon (km 185 - 2.4 km) ***
15: Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières (km 188.5 - 2.4 km) ****
14: Beuvry to Orchies (km 194 - 1.4 km) ***
13: Orchies (km 199 - 1.7 km) ***
12: Auchy to Bersée (km 206.5 - 2.7 km) ****
11: Mons-en-Pévèle (km 212 - 3 km) *****
10: Mérignies to Avelin (km 215.5 - 0.7 km) **
9: Pont-Thibault to Ennevelin (km 220 - 1.4 km) ***
8: Templeuve - L'Épinette (km 224 - 0.2 km) *
8: Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain (km 225 - 0.5 km) **
7: Cysoing to Bourghelles (km 232 - 1.3 km) ***
6: Bourghelles to Wannehain (km 234.5 - 1.1 km) ***
5: Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 239.5 - 1.8 km) ****
4: Carrefour de l'Arbre (km 242.5 - 2.1 km) *****
3: Gruson (km 244 - 1.1 km) **
2: Willems to Hem (km 251 - 1.4 km) ***
1: Roubaix (km 256 - 0.3 km) *
257km remaining from 257km
Christian Prudhomme waves the flag from the race director's car, and the 2019 Paris-Roubaix is underway.
As ever, there is a flurry of early attacks and the peloton is strung out into a long line. The competition to get a head start in Hell is always intense in the opening kilometres of Paris-Roubaix.
There is one non-starter to report, incidentally. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) has withdrawn, citing fever, and his Paris-Roubaix debut will have to wait for another year.
252km remaining from 257km
Interesting to note Iljo Keisse on policing duties for Deceuninck-QuickStep in these opening kilometres. The Belgian is usually the man chasing down breaks for his team in the big Classics, but he seems willing to drift off the front in one here. So far, however, no attack has managed to stick.
Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) hasn't garnered the headlines of Van Aert, Stybar et al this spring, but the German has quietly put together a fine Classics campaign and installed himself as a dark horse contender for the honours today. "Of course, I've seen a lot of it on social media already, but I don't see myself as a favourite," Politt said yesterday. Sadhbh O'Shea has more on Politt here.
248km remaining from 257km
Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) has somehow managed to forge clear alone. The Kazakhstani rider looks over his shoulder in the hope of some reinforcements, which will surely arrive imminently.
244km remaining from 257km
Gruzdev has decided to press on alone and has built up a lead of 30 seconds over the peloton. The pace is stop-start behind, as the riders trying to bridge across mark one another and the counter-attacks peter out.
Trek-Segafredo seem especially keen to get a man in the early move, but Deceuninck-QuickStep aren't leen on letting teammates of a contender like John Degenkolb slip up the road.
238km remaining from 257km
Gruzdev is still alone in front, but his gap is down to 16 seconds, and the peloton is almost at his coattails.
237km remaining from 257km
Gruzdev is joined by Lennard Kemna (Sunweb) at the head of the race, but there are just metres clear of the peloton.
233km remaining from 257km
Gruzdev and Kamna are brought back, and almost immediately, another Astana man goes on the offensive. Magnus Cort clips clear alone.
Cort is pegged back but he hasn't relented just yet.The Dane is hoping that he can find his way into the early break, if and when it takes shape.
230km remaining from 257km
A move featuring Florian Senechal briefly threatens to go clear, but nobody wants to allow a break with a Deceuninck-QuickStep rider any leeway, and we're back to square one again.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) returns for his second tilt at Paris-Roubaix after placing 13th on his debut a year ago. “It’s a hell of a race. It’s way harder than it looks on television. Obviously, it was a hard day for me and the team on that day. I want to finish this year with a more positive feeling,” Van Aert said at the start. “It’s a race that’s very tricky and it can be tricky from the start so it’s important to have the right focus from the start.”
224km remaining from 257km
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates) have forced their way clear, opening a small gap over the peloton. The pair are exchanging turns smoothly but they will need some company if they are to stay away.
220km remaining from 257km
There is a flurry of counter-attacks behind Pedersen and Marcato, who have established a healthy lead of 22 seconds.
217km remaining from 257km
Pedersen and Marcato are still battling gamely in an attempt to stay clear, but their gap has dropped to 10 seconds. It is taking a long, long time for this race to take shape, and this relentless early tempo - into a headwind - will surely have an effect later in the day.
214km remaining from 257km
Pedersen, second in the Tour of Flanders a year ago, was never likely to be allowed slip up the road in the early break, and his move seems on the point of being snuffed out.
A crash in the peloton sees Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) and Julien Vermote (Dimension Data) come down. The two Belgians seem to be unhurt and they quickly remount.
212km remaining from 257km
After Pedersen and Marcato are brought back, Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) is next to try his luck. The Swiss rider placed second a year ago after surviving from the early break, and he also delivered one of the great Paris-Roubaix quotations when asked his thoughts on seeing eventual winner Peter Sagan bridge across to him. "With Peter, I would say he's like an angel and a devil in the same person," Dillier said as he leant against a barrier in the middle of the velodrome. "An angel because he worked with me very well; a devil, because if you go with him in a man-to-man sprint for the finish line, he's hard to beat."
Dillier's move is snuffed out before it has a change to ignite. Despite the headwind, it's been a very brisk start to proceedings, and still no break has managed to gain a foothold.
Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Tom Steels knows a thing or two about the importance of getting in the early break at Paris-Roubaix, as he did this day twenty years ago when his Mapei teammate Andrea Tafi triumphed on the velodrome and he placed third himself. "The riders know that if they get in the early break, then they can often go all the way to the end – especially if the breakaway is big enough. That's why some very good riders want to be up there, and it's not impossible for us to be there," Steel said. "It's a luxury and an advantage to be in that position. As a rider, I was able to do it – once when Franco Ballerini won [in 1998], and then again when Andrea Tafi won . If we don't get in, we don't get in, but you also need to think about how much energy you use up. On the other hand, chasing can really take it out of you."
205km remaining from 257km
When Zdenek Stybar triumphed at the E3 BinckBank Classic, it looked as though Deceuninck-QuickStep were going to continue their dominance through the cobbled period. They have hit a stumbling block since, though with Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche, E3, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne already in the bag, their spring has been better than anybody else's. "A lot of other teams will finish Roubaix and won't have won anything. They'll leave the first part of the spring Classics with a worse feeling than us," Steels said. "We can be proud of what we've done. We've had a very good spring, and have won a lot of different races. If we lose tomorrow because of a flat tyre or a technical problem, then of course we'll be disappointed. But after a week or so to reflect on it, we'll probably be able to say that we did a good job."
Some 44.5km were covered in a very intense first hour of racing.
203km remaining from 257km
Jurgen Roelandts (Movistar), Casper Pedersen (Sunweb) and Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) attack and open a small lead over the peloton.
201km remaining from 257km
This trio stretches its advantage out to 15 seconds, but there are still plenty of teams and riders eager to try to jump across, and that might doom the move's prospects.
198km remaining from 257km
Pedersen, Wurtz Schmidt and Roelandts have extended their lead to 35 seconds as they hit Saint-Quentin. This is the biggest lead established by any break so far today.
We're a little over 35km from the day's first sector of cobbles at Troisvilles. The three escapees have a 30-second buffer over the bunch.
194km remaining from 257km
Andre Greipel (Areka-Samsic) is active at the front of the bunch, among the riders hoping to bridge across to the three escapees, but the gap holds firm at 30 seconds.
The bunch is strung out into one, long line. This has been a brutal, relentless opening to Paris-Roubaix and we have yet to see so much as a cobble.
192km remaining from 257km
Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles) attacks from the bunch and tries to bridge across alone to the three leaders.
189km remaining from 257km
Roelandts, Wurz Schmidt and Pedersen have been pegged back by the peloton, and it's gruppo compatto once again. It increasingly looks like it will take a stretch of cobbles to thin out this peloton.
Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) endured more disappointment at the Tour of Flanders last week, but he returns to the site of his lone Monument victory today. "It’s a special race and it’s the one-day Classic I like the most," Van Avermaet said."It’s always nice to come here especially after winning it in 2017 and wearing the yellow jersey here last year [during the Tour de France]. It’s always a nice feeling.
“I’m quite happy with my form for the whole year really, it’s just missing that extra touch for the win. There were a few times where I was one of the strongest but maybe my result wasn’t that great. I think I’m up there and maybe able to win and that’s the most important thing."
Van Avermaet is not alone among his peers in pointing to Gent-Wevelgem winner Alexander Kristoff as a contender this afternoon. “I think Kristoff is a strong rider with a strong sprint but he’s never really done too well at Roubaix," Van Avermaet said. "I think his shape is coming up and he obviously did well in the race last week [Tour of Flanders]. I’m counting on him being in the group of favourites but hopefully he’s not in the sprint."
184km remaining from 257km
The race hits Fresnoy-Le-Grand just up on the fastest predicted schedule, and with the peloton still all together.
179km remaining from 257km
Alexander Kristoff was circumspect about his own prospects despite placing third in the Tour of Flanders last week. His best finish at Paris-Roubaix was his 9th place back in 2013. "I’ve had a good feeling in the last weeks but I never really did well in this race, but maybe this year," Kristoff said before the start. "It is many different reasons. I’ve had my share of crashes and punctures but I think everyone has in this race. It could be as easy as the position on the bike but I’ve never had a good feeling in Roubaix and not in the stages of the Tour that have Roubaix cobbles. So, I have tried to work a bit more on it this year. I’ve done a bit more work on the cobbles over the winter and hopefully that helps."
176km remaining from 257km
The bunch is 16km from the first sector of cobbles at Troisvilles. Another group of riders are attempting to forge clear, with Kasper Asgreen - second at the Ronde - marking the putative move for Deceuninck-QuickStep.
173km remaining from 257km
A group featuring Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) and Damien Gaudin (Total Direct Energie) has opened a small advantage over the [peloton ahead of the cobbles at Troisvilles, but they aren't being granted much by way of leeway.
170km remaining from 257km
An exposed section of stiff crosswind is helping to break the race up a little. We currently have a group of 9 riders with a lead of 10 seconds on a chasing group featuring Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ), with the peloton just a little further back.
165km remaining from 257km
The nine men in front are: Jorge Arcas (Movistar Team), Michael Schär (CCC Team), Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Kris Boeckmans (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels), Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis Solutions Credits), Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal) and Michaël Van Staeyen (Roompot-Charles).
The break has 43 seconds on the bunch, but there is a dangerous chasing group of 17 featuring Matteo Trentin, Yves Lampaert, Nils Politt and Stefan Kung between the break and the peloton as we approach Troisvilles.
Lotto Soudal and Team Sky are setting the pace in the main peloton. They have missed the splits, and won't want to let men like Trentin and Lampaert up the road.
161km remaining from 257km
The break hits the first sector of cobbles at Trosivilles with a lead of 29 seconds over the main peloton.
The break are safely across the first sector, followed at a distance of 15 seconds or so by the 17 chasers, who were led by Politt. The bunch, however, is not far behind.
The chasing group contains Kamil Gradek (CCC Team), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Matti Breschel (EF Education First), Nils Politt, Marco Haller (Katusha Alpecin), Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates), Davide Ballerini (Astana), Renardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Cees Bol (Sunweb), Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Adrien Petit (Total Direct Energie) and Danny Van Poppel (Jumbo-Visma). They are on the point of joining the nine leaders.
154km remaining from 257km
The merging of the two groups leaves 23 riders up front, with a lead of 52 seconds over the peloton: Jorge Arcas (Movistar Team), Michael Schär (CCC Team), Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Kris Boeckmans (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels), Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis Solutions Credits), Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal), Michaël Van Staeyen (Roompot-Charles), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Renardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Nils Politt, Marco Haller (Katusha Alpecin), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Davide Ballerini (Astana), Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Matti Breschel (EF Education First), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Adrien Petit (Total Direct Energie), Kamil Gradek (CCC Team) and Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe).
152km remaining from 257km
Some interesting names in this move, most notably the Deceuninck-QuickStep duo of Yves Lampaert and Tim Declercq, as well as European champion Matteo Trentin, Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and dangerman Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin). They have 46 seconds in hand as they hit second sector of cobbles at Briastre. It's a 3km section that is rather more testing than Troisvilles, rated as it is at 4 stars.
Trentin and Yves Lampaert lead the break across the cobbles at Briastre. They are maintaining an advantage of 50 seconds over the bunch.
148km remaining from 257km
Sector 28 is done and dusted - and dust is the operative word - for the escapees, who hit the smooth roads at Viesly with a buffer of 50 seconds over the peloton.
The break hits sector 27, the three-star, 1.8km segment of cobbles from Viesly to Quiévy.
146km remaining from 257km
Tim Declercq churns a mammoth gear at the head of the break, helping to keep Lampaert clear. Bahrain-Merida lead the bunch across this sector, 50 seconds down on the leaders.
Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) all have teammates in this front group, which puts the onus on teams like Sky and Bahrain-Merida to lead the chase.
144km remaining from 257km
The leaders hit the longest stretch of cobbles of the race, sector 26 from Quiévy to Saint-Python. The 3.7 km sector has a four-star rating.
Pucntures for Alexander Kristoff and Andre Greipel in the main peloton.
A puncture for Matteo Trentin in the break. The Italian gets a slow wheel change from neutral service, and he will be caught by the main peloton. He stops again to take a wheel from a Mitchelton-Scott helped when he comes off the cobbles. His fellow escapee Michaël Van Staeyen (Roompot-Charles) has also punctured out of the break.
140km remaining from 257km
Politt leads the break onto sector 25 at Saint-Python, still with a gap of 50 seconds over the peloton.
A reminder of the riders still left in this leading group, which has a lead of 50 seconds over the peloton: Jorge Arcas (Movistar Team), Michael Schär (CCC Team), Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Kris Boeckmans (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels), Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis Solutions Credits), Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Renardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Nils Politt, Marco Haller (Katusha Alpecin), Davide Ballerini (Astana), Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Matti Breschel (EF Education First), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Adrien Petit (Total Direct Energie), Kamil Gradek (CCC Team), and Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe).
136km remaining from 257km
The escapees hit the feed zone at Solesmes with a buffer of 40 seconds over the peloton, a brief respite before they hit sector 24 at Vertain.
Jumbo-Visma take up the reins of pursuit in the peloton on behalf of Wout van Aert. His teammate Pascal Eenkhoorn was part of this move initially but is no longer up the road, hence their decision to start chasing. 28 seconds the gap.
Van Aert, incidentally, appears to have been the victim of a mechanical issue, but he latches back on without undue distress just before sector 24 at Vertain.
131km remaining from 257km
Mindful that the bunch is closing fast, Theuns accelerates at the front of the break and opens a small gap.
A rider from Jumbo-Visma crashes heavily in the left-hand gutter as the bunch hurtles through sector 24 and he lies face down in the verge.
Meanwhile, the peloton is edging ever closer to pinning back the break as they emerge on the other side of sector 24. The gap is down to 15 seconds.
Dutch television station NOS has suggested that the Jumbo-Visma faller was Taco van der Hoorn but we await confirmation of his identity.
125km remaining from 257km
The break is within sight of the peloton, but they're not relenting just yet, and the gap remains at around 15 seconds.
Tim Declercq is contributing generously to the break's efforts to stay clear. Deceuninck-QuickStep would, of course, be more than happy to keep Yves Lampaert up the road, but Bahrain-Merida's chase effort is gradually clawing the move back.
A crash in the peloton sees a number of riders come down. Peter Sagan is among those briefly held up by the incident, but he is paced back by his brother Juraj. It is a significantly reduced peloton after these early skirmishes on the cobbles.
122km remaining from 257km
The break hits sector 23, a three-star segment of 1.6km, still holding a small buffer over the reduced bunch.
120km remaining from 257km
Indeed, they are clawed back a couple of hundred metres into the sector, leaving around 80 riders or so at the head of the race with 120km to go, and 22 more sectors of cobbles.
This large leading group is 25km or so from the Trouée d'Arenberg, which is always a pivotal moment in the race. We are currently in the beckoning antechamber, but the true entry to the Hell of the North comes at Arenberg.
Florian Senechal leads the peloton onto sector 22 at Quérénaing, a three-star section of 2.5km. A crash in the break sees Daniel Oss come down. The Italian remounts but he'll have to chase hard if he is to get back on and be of help to Peter Sagan in the finale.
Senechal's driving for Deceuninck-QuickStep has opened gaps that risk yawning into crevasses in this front group.
Jumbo-Visma confirm that Taco van der Hoorn was the faller from the team. The Dutchman has abandoned the race.
115km remaining from 257km
Senechal's forcing has seen a group of eight or so riders open a small gap as they hit sector 21. Lars Boom and Marco Haller are also in this move.
113km remaining from 257km
The Senechal group is brought back as they come off sector 21, but the Frenchman has done some very significant damage. There seem to be only 40 or so riders left at the head of the race, and there are still 113km remaining.
111km remaining from 257km
What was the peloton is now split into two distinct groups. Most of the main contenders are in the front group of 40 riders or so, but there are at least three very notable names in the second group on the road, which is 26 seconds down: Peter Sagan, Oliver Naesen and Alexander Kristoff.
AG2R La Mondiale and Bora-Hansgrohe lead the chase effort in the second group. Greg Van Avermaet's CCC teammates pile on the pressure up front in a bid to stop Sagan and Naesen from getting back on. Naesen is a friend and training partner of Van Avermaet, but there are no gifts in the Classics.
109km remaining from 257km
Maciej Bodnar drops back from the front group to help Bora-Hansgrohe's pursuit in the second group. 17 seconds the gap.
Tim Declercq sets the tempo in the front group, but Bora-Hansgrohe and Lotto Soudal are helping to close the gap behind.
108km remaining from 257km
We're 5km from sector 20, the 4-star stretch of cobbles at Wallers.
A heavy crash for Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in the front group. The Belgian crashes into a traffic island and falls. He lies on the ground clutching his collarbone, and his race is over.
106km remaining from 257km
The front groups merge just shy of the cobbles at Wallers. Relief for Sagan, Naesen et al, but we can expect another selection to form imminently.
CCC set a blistering pace on the approach to Wallers, and this front group is fragmenting even before they hit the cobbles. This has been a most relentless edition of Paris-Roubaix, and there are still over 100 kilometres to go.
103km remaining from 257km
Marco Haller leads the race onto the 2.5km sector of cobbles at Wallers. They have covered 19 of the race's 54.5km of cobbles. The bulk of the hardship is still to come.
Alexander Kristoff, incidentally, is in a group some 1:54 down on the front of the race. The Norwegian's hopes of winning have already evaporated. Tiesj Benoot is the other notable absentee from the front peloton.
Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) takes a tumble as he comes off the cobbles at Wallers. He is quickly back on his feet but he will need a change of bike.
100km remaining from 257km
The front group of 50 riders or so is just 5km from the Arenberg. We can assume a far smaller group will emerge on the other side.
2.3km in length, the Trouée d'Arenberg is a five-star sector of jagged and uneven cobbles. The scramble for positions ahead of the sector is crucial, and AG2R La Mondiale are massed on the front for Oliver Naesen.
97km remaining from 257km
Deceuninck-QuickStep, Trek-Segafredo, CCC and AG2R La Mondiale are all represented in numbers towards the front on the approach to the Arenberg.
Greg Van Avermaet leads the race onto the cobbles at Arenberg, and the bunch strings out into a long line behind him.
John Degenkolb and Luke Rowe are also well placed. Peter Sagan swings out onto the grass verge and loses several positions as he does so.
Van Aert is forced to stop with a mechanical problem in the Arenberg Forest. He is back moving but he has lost ground.
Stijn Vandenbergh (AG2R) takes over at the front of the race, opening a small gap. Van Avermaert, Sagan and Degenkolb are all well positioned at the head of the peloton. Van Aert is chasing desperately to bridge back up.
Vandenbergh emerges from the Arenberg with a small lead over a reduced peloton.
It's not clear if Van Aert was forced to stop with a mechanical, or if he simply lost momentum when he followed Sagan out onto the grass verge. Sagan regained his position afterwards, but Van Aert has ground to recoup on the favourites as he comes out the other side of the Arenberg.
91km remaining from 257km
Stijn Vandenberg has a lead of 8 seconds over the peloton. Wout van Aert is some 50 seconds off the pace.
Van Aert will need a lull in the group of favourites if he is to get back on. Up ahead, meanwhile, Vandenbergh has sat up and waited for the chasers.
90km remaining from 257km
A puncture for Luke Rowe in the front group of 30 or so riders. The Welshman might well end up chasing with Van Aert, who still has 30 seconds to make up on the favourites. Van Aert has Matti Breschel and Heinrich Haussler for company as he chases.
88km remaining from 257km
Onto sector 18 and the Pont Gibus, Van Aert can see the plume of dust rising from the main group of favourites ahead of him, but he still has work to do.
Van Aert is chasing through the convoy of cars on the sector of cobbles with Haussler on his wheel. Provided he doesn't get taken out by a team car, the Belgian will latch back on to the group of favourites. Impressive riding from Van Aert, but he has had to use more energy than he would have liked at this point.
Van Aert has made contact with the front group, which is now being driven by Groupama-FDJ.
Wout van Aert stopped for a bike change after getting back on, but his wheels slip from under him on a corner as he chases back on, and all of his good work is undone. He is back where he was before, desperately pursuing a speeding front group. And that, readers, is Paris-Roubaix.
83km remaining from 257km
It was a strange crash for a rider with Van Aert's bike handling skills, and it looks like it might have been a very costly one. AG2R pile on the pressure at the head of the peloton on the approach to sector 17 at Hornaing.
Once more, Van Aert navigates the obstacle course of team cars abruptly braking on a cobbled section as he chases the front group.
80km remaining from 257km
Stijn Vandenbergh is putting in a mammoth display on behalf of Oliver Naesen. His pace-making is stretching out the front group on this sector of pave. Van Aert is 1:04 down and still chasing through the convoy.
78km remaining from 257km
All of the principal contenders are in this front group of 40 or so riders as they come off sector 17 at Wandignies, save for Van Aert and Kristoff.
Wout Van Aert comes out of sector 17 with a deficit of 1:12 on the peloton. The Belgian is all alone on the road, and will surely struggled to make up this kind of deficit given the intensity of the racing up front.
Wesley Kreder (Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team),Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), Raymond Kreder (Wanty-Gobert) and Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie) have opened a small gap of 10 seconds or so over the main peloton of 50 riders. Van Aert has closed the gap to 40 seconds.
The leaders are on sector 16. Deceuninck-QuickStep still have numbers in this main peloton and we will surely soon start seeing blue jerseys going off the front.
Van Aert and Haussler have to stop meeting like this. The Belgian catches the Bahrain-Merida man on sector 16, and they are back to within touching distance of the rear of the peloton.
72km remaining from 257km
Van Aert is back in the main peloton as they hit smooth roads after sector 16. Wesley Kreder (Wanty-Gobert) is alone in front with a lead of 10 seconds over the bunch.
Tiesj Benoot has been forced out of the race after crashing into a Jumbo-Visma car as he chased back on following a mechanical, according to Sporza's Renaat Schotte.
71km remaining from 257km
Onto the four-star sector 15 at Tilloy, where Kreder retains his small lead over the peloton. Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe) has crashed into the verge on the left-hand side, but the German quickly remounts and gives chase.
69km remaining from 257km
Yves Lampaert leads the peloton off the cobbles at sector 15. When will Deceuninck-QuickStep start to play their multiple cards?
68km remaining from 257km
Kreder continues to hold his lead of 10 seconds over the reduced peloton as he approaches the final feed zone at Beuvry-La-Foret.
Nils Politt accelerates through the end of the feed zone. Philippe Gilbert follows, and they are about to bridge across to Kreder.
66km remaining from 257km
Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Rudiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe) join Wesley Kreder (Wanty-Gobert) on the front ahead of sector 14 from Beuvry to Orchies. This quartet has 15 seconds in hand on the peloton as they hit the cobbles.
Four riders from Trek-Segafredo lead the chase on sector 14, but Gilbert, Politt, Selig and Kreder maintain their advantage.
Peter Sagan and Luke Rowe are well-placed towards the front of this peloton, 17 seconds down on GIlbert et al. They know this is a dangerous move, but who will pin it back?
63km remaining from 257km
Kreder is struggling to keep pace with Gilbert, Politt and Selig, who have 23 seconds in hand on the peloton.
61km remaining from 257km
Kreder has been dropped by the leading trio. Selig is here largely on policing duties for Sagan, but Gilbert and Politt are fully committed to the move, and they have a lead of 24 seconds on the bunch as they approach sector 13 at Orchies.
60km remaining from 257km
There are only 30 or so riders in this main peloton, and it seems the onus will be on AG2R and Trek to chase the three leaders, who have 25 seconds in hand.
Oliver Naesen sets the tempo on the front of a peloton where only the main contenders and a few select helpers remain. 20 seconds the gap to Gilbert, Politt and Selig.
58km remaining from 257km
Gilbert, Politt and Selig still have 19 seconds in hand as they emerge from the cobbles at Orchies.
55km remaining from 257km
There isn't a lot of cohesion in the chasing peloton, and the three leaders have 25 seconds in hand, even though Selig is sitting in and not working, with Peter Sagan in mind. Selig even waves in admonishment at the TV motorbike for getting too close.
Onto sector 12, Peter Sagan accelerates, and his effort stretches out the chasing peloton. There are 7 or so riders trying to forge across to Gilbert and Politt, who have dropped Selig.
This is an elite chasing group: Sagan, Van Aert, Lampaert, Sep Vanmarcke, Christope Laporte, Ivan Garica and Marc Sarreau. They are 17 seconds down on Gilbert and Politt as they hurtle across sector 12 at Bersee.
52km remaining from 257km
Van Aert and Sagan look the strongest of the chasers. Up front, meanwhile, Gilbert has rid himself of Politt on sector 12, and he is in no mood to wait for the German as he approaches the end of this section.
51km remaining from 257km
Situation after sector 12 at Bersees, Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is alone in front. He has 15 seconds in hand on Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education FIrst), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin). The pelootn is at 22 seconds.
49km remaining from 257km
Peter Sagan accelerates and catches Gilbert. Politt and Van Aert follow, then Vanmarcke, Laporte, Lampaert and Sarreau. These eight riders will lead the race onto the five-star sector at Mons-en-Pevele.
48km remaining from 257km
Van Aert leads on Mons-en-Pevele, and Laporte and Sarreau are immediately distanced. Sagan, Lampaert, Gilbert, Vanmarcke and Politt remain with him. They have 30 seconds on the peloton. This is beginning to look like the decisive move of the race.
Lampaert sets a strong pace on the cobbles at Mons-en-Pevele, and the leading sextet have stretched their buffer out to 40 seconds. It's hard to see anybody bringing them back.
45km remaining from 257km
The situation after Mons-en-Pevele (sector 11) sees Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) in front with a lead of 35 seconds over the peloton.
Jasper Stuyven tries to breathe some life into the pursuit, but there seems to be a distinct lack of momentum about the chase. It's unclear if Van Avermaet and Naesen have many teammates left, but we are reaching the final hour of racing, meaning that it is long since time for them to react in person.
Deceuninck-QuickStep have two riders in the front six, and also have Senechal and Stybar patrolling affairs in the peloton.
43km remaining from 257km
For the time being, there is decent collaboration among the six leaders. They hit the cobbles at Avelin (sector 10) with 44 seconds in hand on the chasing group of 20 or so riders.
There's finally a reaction from Greg Van Avermaet, but he is immediately marked by Stybar and relents.
41km remaining from 257km
Van Avermaet's former teammate Stefan Kung is trying to bring some order to this chasing group with a long turn on the front, but their gap has yawned out to 50 seconds as they come out of sector 10.
40km remaining from 257km
Sagan, Van Aert, Lampaert, Gilbert, Politt and Vanmarcke are swapping turns smoothly on the front. This sextet look like deciding the race as their lead stretched out to just shy of a minute.
39km remaining from 257km
There are still 9 sectors of cobbles to go, totalling 11km of pave, starting with sector 9 from Pont-Thibault to Ennevelin.
There are four Belgian riders in this leading group of six - ample opportunity to break their Classics duck this season.
Greg Van Avermaet desperately tries to bring some energy to the chasing group, but their deficit is up to 1:02 as they emerge from sector 9.
37km remaining from 257km
Still no signs of a break in the working accord between Gilbert, Lampaert, Politt, Sagan, Vanmarcke and Van Aert, though one wonders if the presence of two QuickStep riders will affect the dynamic sooner rather than later.
34km remaining from 257km
Groupama-FDJ are leading the chasing group, which has grown in number, but it's making little difference to their deficit, which remains at one minute.
33km remaining from 257km
The six leaders hit sector 8, which is something of a two-part pour. A brief section of regular road breaks up cobbled stretches of 200 and 500 metres at Templeuve.
33km remaining from 257km
Yves Lampaert piles on the pressure in Templeuve, but doesn't manage to shake any of the group loose.
Van Aert takes over on the second part of Templeuve, but none of this sextet is betraying signs of weakness just yet. Despite chasing back on twice, Van Aert is still pedalling fluidly on the cobbles.
30km remaining from 257km
With 30km and 7 sectors of cobbles to go, Gilbert, Lampaert, Van Aert, Vanmarcke, Sagan and Politt have a lead of 57 seconds over the chasers.
27km remaining from 257km
The escapees are a kilometre from sector 7, the 1.3km stretch from Cysoing to Bourghelles.
Sagan sets the tempo as they enter sector 7, then swings over and allows Gilbert through. This is the first time the Belgian has been involved at the business end of Paris-Roubaix, but he has a treasury of experience in events of this distance.
25km remaining from 257km
Into the final 25km for the six leaders, who have 53 seconds in hand on the chasers. They are two sectors away from the crucial Carrefour de l'Arbre, the final five-star sector of the race.
Matteo Trentin drops out of contention from the chasing group, which is being led by Stijn Vandenbergh. They are still 51 seconds down on the leaders as they approach sector 6.
23km remaining from 257km
Lampaert pushes on the pace on the cobbles at Bourghelles to Wannehain, but none of the leaders have unleashed a big acceleration just yet. The Carrefour de l'Arbre might be a different matter.
23km remaining from 257km
Philippe Gilbert senses the lull in pace as the leaders come out of sector 6. He accelerates viciously and only Sagan and Politt follow.
Gilbert, Sagan and Politt have a small lead over Vanmarcke, Van Aert and Lampaert. Lampaert is policing Van Aert and Vanmarcke, who are reluctant to commit to the chase.
If Sagan, Gilbert and Politt put their heads down, they can distance Van Aert, Vanmarcke and Lampaert. Their gap is growing slightly, but not decisively as yet.
21km remaining from 257km
Lampaert senses Van Aert is struggling, and he accelerates in pursuit of the three leaders. Only Vanmarcke can follow him. A tired Van Aert looks to be irretrievably distanced.
20km remaining from 257km
Gilbert, Sagan and Politt have a small lead over Vanmarcke and Lampaert on the approach to sector 5. Van Aert hasn't given up, but he surely won't make it back up to the front.
Gilbert leads Sagan and Politt onto the 1.8km sector at Camphin-en-Pévèle. He isn't exactly stalling the pace for Lampaert to get back on, but the Belgian champion is slowly closing the gap.
Lampaert looks very strong indeed as he leads Vanmarcke across to Gilbert, Sagan and Politt on Camphin-en-Pévèle.
18km remaining from 257km
And then there were five. Lampaert and Vanmarcke join Gilbert, Sagan and Politt as they exit sector 5. Van Aert trails by 20 seconds. The Van Avermaet group is at 1:16 and out of the hunt.
17km remaining from 257km
The five leaders approach the five-star Carrefour de l'Arbre. 2.1 km in length, it is the great launching pad for late attacks in Paris-Roubaix.
Yves Lampaert accelerates viciously on the entry to the Carrefour de l'Arbre, but Sagan looks smooth on his wheel. Politt is suffering at the back but the five-man group is still intact.
Lampaert has led all the way through the corridor of noise in the Carrefour de l'Arbre, but he can't shake anyone loose...
Gilbert swoops past Lampaert and accelerates. Only Sagan can follow his wheel. This duo has a small lead over Vanmarcke and Politt. Lampaert looks in difficulty.
15km remaining from 257km
Sagan leads Gilbert off the Carrefour de l'Arbre, but Politt and Vanmarcke are right behind them and bridge back up once on smooth roads. Lampaert has been distanced and is struggling to catch back up.
14km remaining from 257km
The break passes immediately onto sector 3 at Gruson. Lampaert has latched back on, and now it's Politt's turn to attack. The German has opened a decent gap...
Gilbert bridges across to Politt, and this duo has a small gap over Vanmarcke, Lampaert and Sagan. This is turning into a slugging match, but who will be the last man standing?
13km remaining from 257km
Out of the cobbles at Gruson, Gilbert and Politt have a gap over Sagan, Lampaert and Vanmarcke. Gilbert senses the opportunity and puts in a huge turn on the front.
12km remaining from 257km
Vanmarcke has been on his teammate Langeveld's bike for the last hour or so, and he is calling for a rear wheel change from the neutral service.
12km remaining from 257km
Gilbert and Politt have 18 seconds over Sagan, Lampaert and Vanmarcke, who seems to have some trouble with his gears and is calling for a replacement bike.
11km remaining from 257km
Philippe Gilbert and Nils Politt are swapping turns and look to be decidedly smoother than the three chasers.
Two sectors of cobbles remain. The 1.4km sector to Hem with 7.5km to go, and then the brief stretch with 1.5km to go in the streets of Roubaix.
9km remaining from 257km
GIlbert and Politt have what looks like a winning gap of 27 seconds over Lampaert, Sagan and Vanmarcke.
Vanmarcke leans into the neutral service car for a discussion, but it's unclear if he's been able to get the mechanical assistance he needs. Shades of Rigoberto Uran's gear issues at the 2017 Tour, perhaps?
8km remaining from 257km
Gilbert leads Politt into the cobbles from Willems to Hem, the penultimate sector. They have 35 seconds in hand on the chasers.
Gilbert tries to put Politt under pressure on this section of cobbles, but the German is clinging grimly to his rear wheel.
7km remaining from 257km
GIlbert can't shake off Politt, and it looks like coming down to a two-up sprint on the velodrome.
6km remaining from 257km
Gilbert and Politt have just one sector of cobbles to go. They have 42 seconds in hand on the chasers, where Sagan is struggling to keep pace with Vanmarcke - seemingly locked into a huge gear - and Lampaert.
It seems Vanmarcke has been forced to stop for a bike change, which removes any remaining impetus from the chasers, who trail by 43 seconds.
5km remaining from 257km
Into the final 5km for Politt and Gilbert, who have 45 seconds in hand on Lampaert, who has dropped Sagan and is now chasing alone. Deceuninck-QuickStep will put at least two riders on the podium, but will they claim the top step?
4km remaining from 257km
Gilbert has won the Tour of Lombardy (2009 and 2010), Liege-Bastogne-Liege (2011) and the Tour of Flanders (2017), and he dreams publicly of winning all five Monuments. He'll never have a better chance to win Paris-Roubaix than this, but Politt is a man very much on form.
3km remaining from 257km
Vanmarcke has caught an exhausted Sagan, but they won't trouble the leaders or even Lampaert.
3km remaining from 257km
Politt and Gilbert are still swapping turns, but their efforts are becoming a little more tentative as the gates of the velodrome draw closer.
2km remaining from 257km
Lampaert is committed to his sole pursuit, but he has 30 seconds to recoup and has surely run out of road.
2km remaining from 257km
Gilbert is happy to slow the pace and force Politt to come to the front, hoping the German is aware of Lampaert's pursuit.
1km remaining from 257km
Gilbert looks content to sit on Politt's wheel now, mindful that only his teammate Lampaert is in pursuit.
1km remaining from 257km
Politt leads on the final section of cobbles in Roubaix and into the final kilometre with Gilbert locked onto his wheel. They will duke it out on the velodrome/
A raucous cheer as Politt leads Gilbert onto the velodrome then climbs to the top of the banking. What tension.
Politt leads through the bell, and climbs the banking on the penultimate bend.
Gilbert sprints on the inside...
Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins Paris-Roubaix.
Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) has to settle for second in the sprint.
Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) punches the air as he comes home in third.
Sep Vanmarcke easily out-sprints a tired for Peter Sagan for 4th, but the day belongs to Philippe Gilbert.
Gilbert is in tears as he is hugged by manager Patrick Lefevere in the centre of the Roubaix velodrome. Once he hit the front in the sprint, the result was never in doubt.
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step 5:58:02
2 Nils Politt (Ger) Team Katusha-Alpecin
3 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step 0:00:13
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:42
5 Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick Step 0:00:47
6 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-Quick Step
8 Edvaldas Siskevicius (Lit) Delko Marseille Provence
9 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First
10 Stefan Kung (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step 5:58:02
2 Nils Politt (Ger) Team Katusha-Alpecin
3 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step 0:00:13
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First 0:00:40
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:42
6 Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick Step 0:00:47
7 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
8 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-Quick Step
9 Edvaldas Siskevicius (Lit) Delko Marseille Provence
10 Stefan Kung (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
Philippe Gilbert speaks: "It’s hard to believe it. I’m happy. I still have this dream of winning all five monuments. It’s a bit of a crazy dream that has inspired me for ten years and little by little I’m getting closer to it. I feel great pride today. When I decided to take on this challenge three years ago, many people told me the cobbles weren’t for me. I’ve won the Tour of Flanders and now Paris-Roubaix. I was able to transform my qualities as a puncheur. Now, I’m a different rider and I’m very happy to have done it. I’m not afraid of long attacks. They’ve often worked out in my favour. I got down to work with Politt who is also quite a brave rider. It was ideal to be in his company. In the finale, we rode flat out together, and in the end, it came down to who was the strongest – and that was me."
Greg Van Avermaet came home a disappointed 12th: "I'm disappointed because probably with these legs I could have been better. That's just how it is. It was a hard day and it wasn't easy. I wasn't really awake when the six guys went and then my race was almost over. I was waiting or Carrefour de l'Arbre to make the difference to try and make it to the front group but I wasn't able to come close. I was a bit too far [back]. I thought that it was a bit too early, and it was a real mistake to not be in that group of six. I think that if I was there then for sure they weren't going to drop me. That's just how it is. I think the legs were good and we saw in the end how close I could come but it was just a tactical mistake."
A full report, results and pictures from today's Paris-Roubaix are available here.
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