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Paris-Roubaix 2019

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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:

257km remaining from 257km

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 Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) has withdrawn, citing fever, and his Paris-Roubaix debut will have to wait for another year.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

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

244km remaining from 257km

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.

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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

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.”

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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

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 [1999]. 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

Some 44.5km were covered in a very intense first hour of racing.

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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.

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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.

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189km remaining from 257km

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.

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."

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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 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.

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152km remaining from 257km

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

The break hits sector 27, the three-star, 1.8km segment of cobbles from Viesly to Quiévy.

146km remaining from 257km

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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. 

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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

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

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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

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. 

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Nils Politt accelerates through the end of the feed zone. Philippe Gilbert follows, and they are about to bridge across to Kreder.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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51km remaining from 257km

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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

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

There's finally a reaction from Greg Van Avermaet, but he is immediately marked by Stybar and relents.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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23km remaining from 257km

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.

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20km remaining from 257km

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

17km remaining from 257km

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.

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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?

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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

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 tries to put Politt under pressure on this section of cobbles, but the German is clinging grimly to his rear wheel.

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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.

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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. 

Result:

Result:

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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