The sun shone and it was blue skies rather than mud that greeted the combatants on today's Paris Roubaix. On a spectacular day of crashes, splits and dust it was Johan Vansummeren who soloed off the front off the leading group to take the line at the Roubaix velodrome and salvage Garmin-Cervelo's classics season after all Cancellara's efforts were only enough to score him second place, while Rabobank's Marten Tjallingii took third place.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) had an early poke off the front and was joined by five other riders to build up an early lead before being reeled back in with 190km still to run. Martin Elmiger (Ag2r) was the next to drag a break away from the peloton, and that group had a 50-second lead by the time they hit the first stretch of cobbles. By the 100km to go mark the lead group had settled to 11 riders and the advantage was nearly two minutes.
At the Arenberg the chase started in earnest but the famous trench claimed Tom Boonen (Quick Step) who first pulled over with mechanical problems and then took down Sky's Geraint Thomas in a crash just after he restarted. The Belgian made it back on to his bike but pulled up with 52km to run. Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel was the next to go, falling heavily on a road section as he chased to rejoin the main group after a puncture.
The crashes came thick and fast and Pozzatto (Katusha), Hammond (Garmin Cervelo) and Haussler (Garmin Cervelo) all hit the deck as the pace increased. With just less than 50km to go it was Thor Hushovd who fired himself off the front. His burst of pace, with Cancellara following his wheel, was the move that finally broke up the group containing the main contenders. Juan Antonio Flecha was struggling to stay in touch with Ballan also in tow. As the clock ticked down past 30km to go Cancellara sat up and seemed to say in no uncertain terms that he wasn't happy doing all the work, and the slowing of pace allowed Juan Antonio Flecha to bridge back to the leaders.
Ahead of them the leading group had swelled to 16 riders: Lars Ytting Bak (HTC-Highroad), Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing Team), Frederic Guesdon (FDJ), Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-SunGard), John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad), Tom Leezer (Rabobank), Gabriel Rasch (Garmin-Cervelo) Gregory Rast (RadioShack), Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank), Martin Elmiger (AG2R-La Mondiale), Timon Seubert (Team NetApp), Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun), Mitchell Docker (Skil-Shimano), David Boucher (Omega-Pharma Lotto), David Veilleux (Europcar), Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano), Gorazd Stangelj (Astana), and Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Cervelo). Vansummeren, Rast, Tjallingii and Bak managed to sneak off the front and their advantage was up to 25 seconds at the Carrefour de L'Arbre.
A minute back Hushovd and Cancellara had decided that it was make or break time, and Cancellara had to use all of his bike skills to avoid getting sideswiped by a motorcycle outrider as he upped the pace. Johan Vansummeren chose exactly the same point of the race to launch his solo attack for glory. Hushovd and Cancellara soon dropped Ballan and Boom and scythed through the rest of the leading group to move up to fifth and sixth on the road with 13km to go, and Vansummeren almost reeled back in by Tjallingi at the 8km mark with Rast and Bak chasing hard.
With 5km to go Vansummeren's advantage had grown again to 30 seconds and with no chasing pack it looked like it would be enough as the Belgian navigated the final section of pavé. But a magnificent attack by Cancellara at 3km saw him fly off the front of the leading group to solo up to the chasing three and shot by them in an attempt to close the gap and he almost made it: as Vansummeren took the bell for the final lap of the velodrome the chasers were already on the boards. But nothing was going to deny Vansummeren his day in the sun, and he took the line arms aloft as behind him Cancellara outsprinted Tjallingii to take second place.
1. Johan Vansummeren (Garmin Cervelo) 6h 07m 28s 2. Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) +19s 3. Marten Tjallingii (Rabobank) 19s 4. Gregory Rast (Radio Shack) 19s 5. Lars Bak (HTC Highroad) 21s 6. Alessandro Ballan (BMC) 36s 7. Bernard Eisel (HTC Highroad) 47s 8. Thor Hushovd (Garmin Cervelo) 47s 9. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) 47s 10. Matthew Hayman (Sky) 47s 11. Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ) 47s 12. Lars Boom (Rabobank) 47s 13. Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) 47s 14. Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma - Lotto) 47s 15. Mitchell Docker (Skil - Shimano) 47s 16. Damien Gaudin (Team Europcar) 47s 17. Martin Elmiger (AG2R LA Mondiale) 47s 18. Tomas Vaitkus (ASTANA) 47s 19. John Degenkolb (HTC - Highroad) 02m 10s 20. Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin - Cervelo) 02m 10s
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.