Greg van Avermaet of BMC Racing has won Paris-Roubaix to take the first Monument of his career on a day when fellow Belgian Tom Boonen of Quick Step Floors was unable to secure a fairytale ending to his career by winning the race for what would have been the fifth time.
With the start delayed because of a tailwind, today's 115th edition of the race was the fastest ever, the 257 kilometres from Compiegne ridden at an average speed of 45.2 kilometres an hour, breaking the 1964 record when Peter Post won at an average speed of 45.1 kilometres per hour.
With 20 kilometres remaining, and the key cobbled sectors of Mons-en-Pevele and the Carrefour de l’Arbre looming, seven riders were out in front, including BMC Racing’s Daniel Oss, who had been out in front on his own but dropped back to provide support to van Avermaet.
As the seven riders hit the first of those sectors, Oss pulled off, his work done, with the remaining six riders enjoying half a minute’s advantage over the next group behind them.
The pursuers, with a deficit of half a minute at that point included Boonen and 2015 Paris-Roubaix winner John Degenkolb of Trek Factory Racing and, a little further back following a puncture, world champion Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe.
By the time the leaders were through the Gruson pave sector and heading into the final 10 kilometres, just three riders seemed left in contention – Olympic champion van Avermaet, Cannondale-Drapac’s Sebastian Langeveldt, and the Quick Step Floors rider Zdenek Stybar.
With their closest pursuers the best part of a minute back, the cat-and-mouse games started 4 kilometres out, the three still locked in battle as they entered Roubaix’s historic velodrome for the lap and a half of the track that would conclude the race.
Suddenly, three became five however, as Gianni Moscon of Team Sky and Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven, their companions in the earlier break, re-established contact with barely 200 metres left.
Their efforts to rejoin the front three meant they were unable to challenge in the sprint. Stybar went early, but van Avermaet responded and overhauled the Czech ahead of the line, with Langeveldt third.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.