Philippe Gilbert wins Paris-Roubaix

Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) moved a step closer to completing a full set of Monuments when he beat Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) in a two-up sprint to claim victory at the end of an unrelenting edition of Paris-Roubaix

It was fitting that Gilbert and Politt were the last men standing at the end of such a slugging match over the cobbles, as each rider had landed more telling blows than most during a breathless day of racing.

The decisive move had its genesis in Politt’s canny attack at the end of the second feed zone with 67km remaining, when Gilbert was the first to react to the German’s probing effort. That attack triggered the denouement, and the race took definitive shape just before the cobbles at Mons-en-Pévèle with 45km remaining. There, the pair emerged in an elite group of six along with defending champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First).

That sextet collaborated smoothly to build up a lead of a minute over a flagging and disorganised chasing group, and their unity only started to ebb when the Quick Step duo of Lampaert and Gilbert began their probing on the cobbles at Wannehain and Carrefour de l’Arbre.

A tiring Van Aert, who had earlier chased back on twice after a mechanical and a crash, lost contact ahead of the Carrefour de l’Arbre, but the pivotal moment came on the following sector at Gruson. With 14.5km remaining, Politt unleashed a determined acceleration that only Gilbert could follow.

With Lampaert policing a fading Sagan and a Vanmarcke beset by mechanical issues, the Gilbert-Politt tandem quickly built up a buffer of 40 seconds over their erstwhile companions, and the duo continued to work together deep into the run-in towards Roubaix.

It was only in the final 3 kilometres, when Gilbert got word that Lampaert was now chasing alone, that their alliance stalled. The canny Gilbert duly ensconced himself on Politt’s wheel through the final sector of pavé in the streets of Roubaix and allowed the German to lead them though the gates of the famous old velodrome.

Amid raucous cheers, Politt climbed the banking of the velodrome and slowed the pace, but while Gilbert is a relative Paris-Roubaix novice – this was just his third participation – few riders have his kind of sangfroid at the end of a 250km race. Just as he patiently disposed of the Schleck brothers in the sprint at Ans in Liège-Bastogne-Liège eight years ago, he bided his time before unleashing a powerful sprint to see off Politt.

“I’m not afraid of long attacks. They’ve often worked out in my favour,” Gilbert said afterwards. “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.”

Gilbert’s teammate Lampaert came home alone to take third place in the Belgian champion’s jersey, just as his directeur sportif Tom Steels did twenty years ago behind his teammate Andrea Tafi. Vanmarcke slipped away from Sagan to take 4th, while Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won the sprint for 6th place, 47 seconds down on his teammate Gilbert.

How it unfolded

It was a very chilly morning for the riders who took to the start at the Palais Impérial in Compiègne on Sunday, where fever victim Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was a late withdrawal. A headwind early on meant countless unsuccessful attacks in the first two hours of racing through the Oise, Somme and Aisne regions, with an average of 44km/h for the peloton.

Only when entering the Nord region and approaching the first pavé sectors did any riders manage to gain a significant gap on the peloton. A group of nine reached the first cobbles at pavé sector 29 in Troisvilles. Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Nils Politt (Katusha) and European champion Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) were among the notable names to make the group, while soon afterwards, three more groups came together to form a break of over 20 riders.

As the leaders reached the second pavé sector, named after the late Michael Goolaerts, they had an advantage of 50 seconds on the Bora-Hansgrohe and Sky-led peloton. The punctures and mechanicals came thick and fast thereafter, with Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), André Greipel (Arkea-Samsic) and Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Dimension Data) among those dropping from the peloton as the cobbles took their toll.

Up front, Trentin suffered a similar fate, having to take a Mavic neutral service wheel before dropping back to the peloton. Bahrain-Merida worked at the head of the peloton to limit the gap, and by sector 23, with 120km to race, the lead group was already caught back.

Peter Sagan lost a valuable helper when Daniel Oss crashed on sector 22, while the next sector saw Kristoff puncture once again. It wasn’t to be his day. Due to the general chaos of the race, the peloton split in two pieces in the run-up to the Arenberg, with Kristoff, Sagan, Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) trailing in the chase group. 

On sector 20 at Haveluy à Wallers, those groups merged, though Kristoff didn’t make the cut, while Slovenian champion Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) crashed out of the peloton just before Arenberg.

Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) led onto the famous sector, where Van Aert swerved out of the peloton with a mechanical problem, switching bikes with teammate Pascal Eenkhoorn before mounting a lone chase, some 40 seconds down. He ended up racing alongside Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain-Merida), blasting through the sectors and past trailing riders as he bridged back to the peloton with the Australian.

After switching to his own spare bike, Van Aert slid out on a corner, meaning he faced another a lone chase once again, this time with a minute to make up on the peloton. Soon after, his compatriot Benoot’s race came to an unfortunate end when he collided with a Jumbo-Visma team car, exiting the race in tears with a bloody knee.

Out front, Wesley Kreder (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) now led the race with small advantage over the peloton, but a rare lull in pace allowed Van Aert to catch up before sector 15.

At the feed zone, Politt accelerated, and he was joined by Gilbert and Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe). The trio bridged to Kreder and reached sector 14 at Beuvry à Orchies with a small advantage.

On sector 12, Sagan put on the power, attacking the peloton and taking several riders with him, including Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First). The group absorbed Gilbert and Politt, forming an elite lead group heading into the final 50km.

The six leaders reached the famous sector 11 at Mons-en-Pévèle with a lead of half a minute on the chase group, which consisted of around 20 riders. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Van Avermaet tried to bridge from the peloton, but with Zdenek Štybar (Deceuninck-Quick Step) smothered their moves. It was already clear that the winner would come from the six leaders. 

Gilbert put in the first dig from the lead group with 23km to race, shortly after sector 6 at Bourghelles à Wannehain. The lead group was split in two pieces as Sagan and Politt quickly reacted while Vanmarcke, Van Aert and Lampaert lagged behind.

A tiring Van Aert was left behind by his countrymen as they hit sector 5 at Camphin-en-Pévèle, with Vanmarcke and Lampaert catching the lead trio at the end of the cobbled sector. On the Carrefour de l’Arbre – the only five-star sector remaining – Quick Step attacked first with Lampaert and then Gilbert, though Sagan was wise to both accelerations.

Next it was Politt’s turn – the German went on the offensive at the next sector at Gruson. Gilbert was the only man to make it across, while Sagan, Vanmarcke and Lampaert chased. The gap opened, and it soon became a two-man race.

A week ago, Gilbert had been diminished by illness at the Tour of Flanders, but his wealth of experience told here. He becomes the first man since Sean Kelly to win four of cycling’s five Monuments. Paris-Roubaix joins the Tour of Lombardy (2009 and 2010), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2011) and the Tour of Flanders (2017) on his palmarès. 

“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,” said Gilbert. “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.” 

Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep5:58:02
2Nils Politt (Ger) Team Katusha-AlpecinRow 1 - Cell 2
3Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:00:13
4Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First0:00:40
5Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:42
6Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:00:47
7Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 6 - Cell 2
8Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 7 - Cell 2
9Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Delko Marseille ProvenceRow 8 - Cell 2
10Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education FirstRow 9 - Cell 2
11Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJRow 10 - Cell 2
12Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 12 - Cell 2
14Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida0:01:24
15Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie0:01:25
16Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha-Alpecin0:01:36
17Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 16 - Cell 2
18Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct EnergieRow 17 - Cell 2
19Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis Solutions CreditsRow 18 - Cell 2
20Bert De Backer (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 19 - Cell 2
21Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky0:01:40
22Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma0:01:42
23Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:14
24Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 23 - Cell 2
25Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team0:02:36
26Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 25 - Cell 2
27Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:02:38
28John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo0:03:00
29Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:03:06
30Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida0:03:39
31Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:04:25
32Luke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 31 - Cell 2
33Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis Solutions Credits0:07:06
34Mads Schmidt Würtz (Den) Team Katusha-Alpecin0:08:14
35Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:09:09
36Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale0:09:11
37Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 36 - Cell 2
38Wesley Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 37 - Cell 2
39Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:10:19
40Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 39 - Cell 2
41Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 40 - Cell 2
42Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team0:10:20
43Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-ScottRow 42 - Cell 2
44Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb0:11:51
45Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension DataRow 44 - Cell 2
46Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-SamsicRow 45 - Cell 2
47Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC TeamRow 46 - Cell 2
48Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis Solutions CreditsRow 47 - Cell 2
49Koen De Kort (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 48 - Cell 2
50Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 49 - Cell 2
51Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-SegafredoRow 50 - Cell 2
52Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 51 - Cell 2
53Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 52 - Cell 2
54Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis Solutions CreditsRow 53 - Cell 2
55Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 54 - Cell 2
56Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates0:14:15
57Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La MondialeRow 56 - Cell 2
58Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Team Katusha-AlpecinRow 57 - Cell 2
59Boris Vallee (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert0:14:18
60Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First0:15:47
61Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 60 - Cell 2
62Cees Bol (Ned) Team SunwebRow 61 - Cell 2
63Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 62 - Cell 2
64Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 63 - Cell 2
65Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 64 - Cell 2
66Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension DataRow 65 - Cell 2
67Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 66 - Cell 2
68Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 67 - Cell 2
69Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 68 - Cell 2
70Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 69 - Cell 2
71Julien Trarieux (Fra) Delko Marseille ProvenceRow 70 - Cell 2
72Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 71 - Cell 2
73Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 72 - Cell 2
74Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-CharlesRow 73 - Cell 2
75Roy Curvers (Ned) Team SunwebRow 74 - Cell 2
76Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education FirstRow 75 - Cell 2
77Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team0:15:51
78Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro TeamRow 77 - Cell 2
79Stan Dewulf (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 78 - Cell 2
80Michael Schär (Swi) CCC TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJRow 80 - Cell 2
82Ian Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 81 - Cell 2
83Benoit Jarrier (Fra) Team Arkea-SamsicRow 82 - Cell 2
84Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team SkyRow 83 - Cell 2
85Rick Zabel (Ger) Team Katusha-Alpecin0:20:25
86Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data0:23:26
87Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 86 - Cell 2
88Franck Bonnamour (Fra) Team Arkea-SamsicRow 87 - Cell 2
89Timo Roosen (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 88 - Cell 2
90Corentin Ermenault (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 89 - Cell 2
91Lars Bak Ytting (Den) Dimension DataRow 90 - Cell 2
92Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Total Direct EnergieRow 91 - Cell 2
93Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-CharlesRow 92 - Cell 2
94Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education FirstRow 93 - Cell 2
95Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky0:23:37
96Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-SegafredoRow 95 - Cell 2
97Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels0:23:43
98Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:24:12
99Edoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-ScottRow 98 - Cell 2
100Filippo Fortin (Ita) Cofidis Solutions Credits0:27:17
OTLRasmus Fossum Tiller (Nor) Dimension Data0:29:56
OTLAlex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-SegafredoRow 101 - Cell 2
OTLMaximilian Richard Walscheid (Ger) Team SunwebRow 102 - Cell 2
OTLJonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 103 - Cell 2
OTLCallum Scotson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:31:24
OTLEduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar TeamRow 105 - Cell 2
OTLJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles0:39:54
OTLPrzemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Pol) Delko Marseille Provence0:40:00
OTLJoseph Areruya (Rwa) Delko Marseille ProvenceRow 108 - Cell 2
OTLAlan Riou (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic0:47:35
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFJuraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-HansgroheRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFKamil Gradek (Pol) CCC TeamRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFGijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC TeamRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFJulius Van Den Berg (Ned) EF Education FirstRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFTaylor Phinney (USA) EF Education FirstRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFJenthe Biermans (Bel) Team Katusha-AlpecinRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) Team Katusha-AlpecinRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Total Direct EnergieRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFDamien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct EnergieRow 123 - Cell 2
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Total Direct EnergieRow 124 - Cell 2
DNFPim Ligthart (Ned) Total Direct EnergieRow 125 - Cell 2
DNFJack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-ScottRow 126 - Cell 2
DNFLuka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-ScottRow 127 - Cell 2
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJRow 128 - Cell 2
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJRow 129 - Cell 2
DNFTiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 130 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 131 - Cell 2
DNFNikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 132 - Cell 2
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 133 - Cell 2
DNFBrian Van Goethem (Ned) Lotto SoudalRow 134 - Cell 2
DNFTaco Van Der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 135 - Cell 2