Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Mathieu van der Poel wins fastest ever Paris-Roubaix after Wout van Aert puncture drama

The Dutchman adds a Roubaix cobble to his Monument collection after two minutes of craziness sees crash and mechanical drama leave Van der Poel solo

Mathieu van der Poel has won a fourth Monument of his career, and a second in 2023, winning Paris-Roubaix after incredible drama on Carrefour de l'Arbre where a John Degenkolb crash and Wout van Aert puncture left the Dutchman solo.

When the Jumbo Visma rider accelerated only Van der Poel could follow, the race looking as though it was heading towards a showdown between the two great rivals. However, as quickly as the move went away, Van der Poel was solo, the Belgian suffering a rear flat and forced to drop back to Jasper Philipsen and Mads Pedersen behind.

The puncture capped a wild two minutes of racing, Degenkolb crashing out of contention after contact with the race winner. As Van der Poel celebrated, teammate Philipsen pulled off the sprint for second ahead of Van Aert, completing an Alpecin-Deceuninck one-two.

A lead group of seven, also including Filippo Ganna and Stefan Küng, had been in front since just after the Arenberg, cooperating well together and building up a huge advantage over everyone else.

When the final five-star sector came, the hell of Roubaix was perfectly encapsulated in two minutes of madness — a crash, an attack, a puncture — leaving Van der Poel to write yet more history.

"Incredible"

Speaking at the finish, Van der Poel said his teammates were "incredible" and expressed a touch of regret at his great rival being denied the chance to sprint one vs one in the velodrome.

"Jasper finishing second, it's not possible to do better than this," he said. "I think I had one of the best days on the bike. I felt really strong, I tried to attack earlier but it was really hard to drop the guys.

"I found myself alone and just rode as hard as I could until the finish line. I knew he [Van Aert] had a problem but I did not know it was a flat tyre. It's unfortunate because I think otherwise we'd have gone to the finish line. Unfortunately it's part of the race and you need a bit of luck and good legs. I had both today".

Drama in Hell

Continuing the theme from last weekend in Flanders the pace was high from the gun, 51 km/h average speed for the opening hour and the breakaway taking 100km to form, many trying and failing to escape up the road before finally a quartet of Jonas Koch, Sjoerd Bax, Derek Gee and Juri Hollman got away.

As ever with Roubaix, crashes, mechanicals and punctures dominated the day, Kasper Asgreen, Florian Sénéchal and Magnus Sheffield just three of those to suffer setbacks before the first major pavé crash of the day saw the end of Peter Sagan's final appearance.

> Paris-Roubaix safety concerns as tacks found on the course

Nils Politt, Küng and Van Aert joined the mechanical-sufferer club before the Jumbo Visma leader led an acceleration on the final pre-Arenberg sector, pulling away a group including Van der Poel, Küng, Degenkolb and Christophe Laporte.

Onto the infamous five-star sector and the bunch behind was split by a huge crash, Fred Wright, Asgreen and defending champion Dylan Van Baarle seeing their chances end.

An untimely puncture for Laporte saw him drop back as the breakaway, group of favourites and chase all merged to form an elite leading group of 13, also including Van der Poel's teammates Philipsen and Gianni Vermeersch.

As the lead pushed out towards two minutes, behind Laporte, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Florian Vermeersch tried to bridge but always faced an uphill battle with the power ahead.

On Mons-en-Pévèle's five-star hellishness an acceleration from Van der Poel saw the group made even more select, Van Aert, Ganna, Pedersen, Degenkolb, Philipsen and Küng the only ones able to follow.

13 had become seven and Alpecin-Deceuninck hearts were in mouths for just a second, a Philipsen puncture, but minimal stress and the Belgian sprinter was back in the mix.

On the final five-star sector, Carrefour de l'Arbre, drama erupted — Degenkolb falling after contact with Van der Poel before an acceleration from Van Aert, the Dutchman the only rider able to follow.

Seconds later, disaster. A puncture leaving Van der Poel as lone leader with 15km to go, an advantage of 26 seconds over the chasers.

As Van Aert set off in last-chance pursuit his great Dutch rival made an improbable save, showing off his bike handling before celebrating in the velodrome and consoling Degenkolb.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

Add new comment

15 comments

Avatar
bobbypuk | 1 year ago
0 likes

Jumbo really need to look at their tyre choice. They seem to be getting a lot of flats this classics season, yesterday Laporte and Van Aert both had their chances ruined by punctures

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to bobbypuk | 1 year ago
1 like

bobbypuk wrote:

Jumbo really need to look at their tyre choice. They seem to be getting a lot of flats this classics season, yesterday Laporte and Van Aert both had their chances ruined by punctures

They're using almost the same tyres as Alpecin, Vittoria Pro Corsa for JV and the same but the graphene-added version for Alpecin. Punctures are inevitable during Roubaix, it's just a matter of luck as to who, where and when. Don't forget Philipsen, on the same tyres as MVDP, punctured not long before WVA did but happened to be in a position where he could get back on quickly.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to bobbypuk | 1 year ago
1 like

Interesting comments from Luke Rowe today in another publication saying that he thinks it's mad not to ride with foam inserts in tubeless tyres, especially (but not exclusively, he uses them on ordinary road stages as well) in Paris-Roubaix. In his view, with which it seems difficult to disagree, the 2-3W loss is more than compensated for by the additional safety and "ride flat" capability the inserts offer.

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
1 like

Says a guy who has someone else to fit his tyres.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
0 likes

IanMSpencer wrote:

Says a guy who has someone else to fit his tyres.

Fair point, I've never tried them - a bugger to fit?

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
3 likes

My two bobsworth is that Degenkolb was actually the architect of his own downfall there: Van der Poel was following his teammate through the (admittedly very tight) gap, Degenkolb tried to muscle him out of it by leaning on, the pressure of doing that caused him to go up the grass bank and over. Racing incident at worst and certainly the hysterical reaction on social media calling for VdP's head on a platter is ludicrous.

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
1 like

No, I'd say John did exactly the right thing there. Someone coming across you in a race, you put your elbow out to let them know you are there, and arguably give the other rider something to lever against to change direction.
It's what I was taught and have learnt to do. Elbows out gives everyone room to manoeuvre.
The challenge here is the MVP was being squeezed hard by Jasper. MVP had no where to go, John had no where to go, and sadly as he was on the outside, he fell.

It was horribly unjust, unfair, and a terrible way for John's campaign to end.

Alas, there is not a lot more to it. No malice, no great error, just one of those things.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
0 likes

He certainly did nothing wrong, he had as much right to fight for the line as MVDP. It's just that if one leans on the other will lean back and inevitably something's going to give and, as you say, because JD was on the outside it was him. With 20/20 hindsight he should have (in my opinion) let the Alpecin boys through and jumped on their train but totally understand the unwillingness to surrender the best line.

Good to see JD saying afterwards that as far as he was concerned it was a racing incident. 

Avatar
pneves | 1 year ago
1 like

Its a race. Sure. But i would wonder what would happen if Dagenkolb wasn't there. MVDP colleague changes direction, pushes him to the side and he is "supported" by Dagenkolb that goes to the ground. More than MVDP the colleague that was taking lead is to blame. Then surely MVDP, so both actions should be under analysis from the UCI. Will it be? Its MVDP so I guess not.

Avatar
ooblyboo replied to pneves | 1 year ago
0 likes

Cobbles are famously quite uneven and they were crossing them at insane speed. There didn't appear to be any intent. I don't really see what there is to analyse.

Avatar
ubercurmudgeon | 1 year ago
1 like

What a disappointment for John Degenkolb, losing maybe his last chance to repeat his 2015 win. But it was Van der Poel's teammate Jasper Philipsen who made the sudden move that caused Degenkolb to go down. Anyone comparing it to the times when sprinters have been disqualified for not holding their line clearly has not ridden on cobbles.

That said, the one thing this latest generation of top riders has been lacking is a baddie. They've all been too nice, too fair, too friendly, and (so far) too clean. Nobody has shown the kind of ruthlessness and eerie good luck (in the form of bad luck for their opposition) that leads to suspicions they may have made a Faustian pact. Perhaps, after today, Mathieu van der Poel will now fulfil that vital role.

Avatar
EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
0 likes

That Degenkolb crash - racing incident or VDP at fault??

looked similar to various sprint crashes from the last couple years where someone has been crucified over it? Maybe not.

Shame about the punctures but that's Paris Roubaix

Avatar
dreamlx10 replied to EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
3 likes

VDP at fault all the way

Avatar
ooblyboo replied to dreamlx10 | 1 year ago
3 likes

Terrible luck for Degenkolb but it was a racing incident. In any case, it was Philipsen's move across that triggered it.

Avatar
Sredlums replied to dreamlx10 | 1 year ago
1 like

Yeah, how dared he steer to the right when the guy in front of him cuts him of to the right. Shameful.

Latest Comments