What a cracking edition of Paris-Roubaix - the 111th, and the third won by Fabian Cancellara - that was today. The RadioShack-Leopard rider joins Tom Boonen as the only man to have done the Flanders-Roubaix double in two separate seasons, but Blanco's Sep Vanmarcke pushed him all the way to a two-way sprint in the velodrome. Omega Pharma-Quick Step had the numbers as the race headed into its closing 50 kilometres, and while crashes cost its riders the chance to contest the win, Niki Terpstra made the podium.
Here's our round-up of their reaction, plus that of some of the other riders who featured, plus team managemen - but first, the moment at around the halfway point when FDJ rider Yoann Offredo's day came to a very abrupt and violent end as he crashed into a sign on a traffic island, a heart-in-mouth moment for viewers that left the Frenchman injured, but the outcome could have been a lot worse.
Marc Madiot, FDJ team manager
"He [Offredo] was at the tail of the peloton, he'd just asked me for a bike change. Before I could respond, he had not seen that the peloton was splitting to go each side of a traffic island and he hit the sign at full speed. He hurt himself badly, he's wounded on his chin, his knees, his ribs. That's how it ended for him..."
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard), winner of Paris-Roubaix 2013
“I was in another world of riding! I still don’t know how I did it. I was dropped and pretty far back but then I started to move up. This is a race you can never give up on until the end. I had to play with him in the end because I tried to go away but he followed so then I knew it was man against man. I’m happy for the team and for me. Now I look forward to rest and a holiday. Mission accomplished.
”It’s amazing having a third victory. When I see how in this race everyone was against our team, against me, I just had to do a selection. The team came into a little bit of difficulty because we lost a few guys because of bad luck. But that’s Roubaix. It’s always nice to win alone but today there was pure fighting until the very end. I could not believe it when I crossed the finish line. My legs and my head wanted to bring me here.”
Dirk Demol, 1988 Paris-Roubaix winner and now RadioShack-Leopard sports director
“I was nervous the whole day. We knew what we were facing. We knew we had the best rider and best team. But I told the guys this race wasn’t only for Fabian, it was for the whole team. We weren’t riding for second place, only the victory. I know Vanmarcke very well. He’s from my neighborhood and I knew he would be a fighter.
"I told Fabian to ride to keep him working and not make any mistakes. He had to stay focused as we knew Vanmarcke could do a good sprint. It was too bad Stybar crashed. This was perfect for him. But this time others had the bad luck and we had the good. That’s the way it goes in Roubaix. Fabian feels this race. That really helps in a race. He’s good at that. Really good.”
Runner-up Sep Vanmarcke, Blanco Pro Cycling
“I know that I should be very proud of this especially with my fall in Tirreno-Adriatico still etched on my mind. Paris-Roubaix was actually the only race wherein I could still perform. To be honest, I had my doubts but the team stood behind me and I am very thankful for that.
"At the finish, I felt pretty good about my chances – after all, Cancellara is also human! I saw that he was also tired and he could not shake me in the last kilometres – that gave me an enormous boost. That’s why second place feels so frustrating – I don’t know if I’ll have another chance to win Paris-Roubaix. I just can’t fully appreciate what second means at this moment.”
Third-placed Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
"I'm happy to be on the podium of course. The team was really strong. Tom Boonen was not here, and he is our leader, but we had our chances. Sylvain Chavanel was of course our leader here, but also we can go if we have our chance. Chavanel had a bad moment and of course we have to go when the opportunity is there.
"Of course Cancellara was the big favourite today so we wanted to have as many riders as we could in the first group. We had three riders in the top 10 in the final kilometers, which was perfect. Unfortunately Stijn Vandenbergh and Zdenek Stybar crashed at the end. I didn't see what happened. I was sitting in the group behind and suddenly I see Stijn lying on the side of the road. I was thinking, 'man,' because he was really strong. But I thought 'OK we still have Zdenek there.'
"Then I heard he crashed but I just kept focusing on the group. Of course I was not working because we had men in front and for me it was to our advantage. So I could then save my energy in the final. Also I could use the experience on the track this winter, training with the team. That is why I could sprint well and take the podium place in the end."
Team-mate Zdenek Stybar, whose chances of a podium place were wrecked by a wayward fan
"I was just following Cancellara. I had really perfect legs and I was feeling very good. Then, there were three of us away and I thought 'I think I am one of the fastest,' so I was really focusing on what I could do in the final. Niki was behind me so I didn't have to pull at all. I was really in a super situation.
"But after there was some photographer or something in the way and I hit him with my shifter and I nearly crashed. Before I could put my foot back in the pedal I just lost contact with the wheel of Cancellara. Once you have a gap of 5 to 10 seconds, it's impossible to close on this parcours, especially after 240 kilometers.
"So on the one hand I am extremely disappointed, but on the other hand, for the first time here on the cobblestones and the Classics, I can be happy I was really close. I did a final and I hope to come back and win this race."
Omega Pharma-Quick Step sports drector, Wilfred Peters
"I think today the guys were really committed to mark the race with a strong performance. We were always in the action even if a tecnical excluded a strong Chavanel from the fight.
"In the final we had three guys and then two of four riders in the front. It was the perfect situation for us, but once again we had bad luck. Vandenbergh hit a spectator and he crashed and a few seconds later Styby was almost on the ground because of another spectator.
"Fortunately, Niki had the power to do a great sprint and gain a 3rd place that honestly I think the team really deserved, even if with two guys in the final we could have done even better."
Sky sports director Servais Knaven, Paris-Roubaix winner in 2001
“On the tough section where the race split apart it was all about the legs and we didn’t quite have the strength to be there. Bernie [Eisel, who finished 12th] was up there but of course we hoped for more.
“Ian [Stannard] used up a lot of energy after his early puncture and then his crash. Geraint [Thomas] also crashed and couldn’t get back so again we had some bad luck.
“Up until that point we had been racing really well with Mathew [Hayman] in the break. We did a lot of things right we just didn’t have the legs to finish it off.”
Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing, who finished fourth
"I had a good feeling I could do well here after Flanders. So it was a good decision to do this race.
[On being unable to follow Cancellara's attack inside the final 25km] "[Damien] Gaudin was in between and he took a corner really bad and lost two metres. I tried to catch them and came to one meter but couldn't close it. If you're not in the wheel and you are in the wind, you are killing yourself."
Taylor Phinney, BMC Racing, who came home 23rd
"I was maybe feeling a bit too good. I think I got a bit excited. I never had any bad luck or any crashes. But when I needed to have the big kick to stay with the front group on Mons-en-Pévèle, I didn't have it. That was too bad."
Thor Hushovd, BMC Racing, who suffered more bad luck than most today
"I felt really good but I had to change my bike and it was hard to get back. Just when I came back, I had a flat, then another flat and then I had a crash. I had to fight to come back to the front four times. That put me in the red a little bit. But I was still there. When they went hard once I went all kind of flat. So it's another disappointing day for me."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.