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106th Paris - Roubaix - Live Coverage Part 1 & Photos
By Staff
Date: 4/13/2008
106th Paris - Roubaix - Live Coverage Part 1 & Photos

Paris - Roubaix -  Live Coverage Part 1 & Photos
Queen of the Classics - Karen Lambrecht Photos

Overcast with drizzles at the start in Compiègne. Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

Paris -  Roubaix - 259.5 km
The race started without any incident at all this morning; an early escape by Francaise des Jeux rider Mathieu Ladagnous lasted around six kilometres. It wasn't the cobbles that claimed our first victim today - Ermanno Capelli hit the deck rather heavily, and never remounted.

The weather is often a factor in this race, be it from the dusty conditions of last year, to the treacherous conditions that distinguish the 1994 edition as one of the best editions of the event in years. Some light rain has been falling, though that did not hinder the attempts of three riders - Matthé Pronk (Cycle Collstrop), Jan Kuyckx (Landbouwkrediet) and Alexander Serov (Tinkoff) to breakaway.

The move occurred around 89 km into the race, and soon a chaser, in the form of Vlaanderen's Pieter Ghyllebert, sought to bridge the gap up to our leading trio. Despite his efforts over the first couple of cobbled sections, Ghyllebert never gained massively on the escapees, and he sat up. His minute lead over the main group came down quickly, and he remains within the peloton at the moment. Up front, the lead has increased steadily, consistently staying around the three-and-a-half minute mark. Only recently has the gap shot up to over four minutes and now remains just shy of five minutes.

The three in the lead now have a gap of 2 and a half minute on Ghyllebert and a gap of three minutes and fifty seconds to the bunch 121 km to go, Brut has to let the bunch go. Pronk is Dutch, Kuyckx is Belgian, Serov is Russian. Vansevenant turns up at the front of the bunch, heading to sector 21

The 28 cobble sections of  Paris - Roubaix taped to Saunier Duval/Scott's Luciano Pagliarini's bike. The 52.7 km of the cobble sectors are listed at the bottom of the page. Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

The escapees are at sector 20 the infamous 2.5 km of De Haveluy à Wallers forest is sector 19 and next up. Devolder is trying to get his communication radio working. The course is not really dusty or muddy this year. Portal has a puncture. The last muddy version must have been 2002 - Johan Museeuw  won; it was Tom Boonen's "coming out" as a Classics star.

1415 CEST - 5:14 the gap,  The riders are 15 minutes ahead of the fastest schedule, with Cofidis and a CSC rider leading the peloton. Pronk has a list with all the cobblestones sectors glued on his frame. He's no mug; Pronk is well-known as a derny record holder but he's a decent Classics man. He was third in Het Volk all the way back in 2001, for example. 5'11" is the gap right now, with 105km left.

The peloton is now divided in two parts, next to each other due to the road divider, Crash two Gerosteiners High Roads Eisel and Tjallingi. Pozzato was just being paced back towards the front; he was fortunate to avoid that pile-up. High Road are straight onto the front of the pack. Bad timing too, as the peloton strings out. It's four High Road men on the front. Section 19 of Cobbles It's Haveluy-Wallers. A train waits for the race to go by.

Our escapees: Jan Kuyckx (Landbouwkrediet) follows Matthé Pronk (Cycle Collstrop) and Alexander Serov (Tinkoff) Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

Rated at four stars in terms of difficulty, this is the prologue for the Arenberg Forest, which is fast approaching - Serov doesn't look to be enjoying it. I've heard that riding the pavé of Paris-Roubaix is like having sex with a pneumatic drill. (Not sure how the person that told me that worked it out though...)

Our leaders have just under five minutes for a lead - 4.45 the gap now. Just over 100 kilometres left, and the business end of the race to come. Some riders are on the walk pavement right now - one from Liquigas, another from Credit Agricole. All seemed to rejoin the road safely - the best way to race the cobbles is to be on the very top of it.

Crash Elmiger goes down. It's a fight for the front - just like last week, if you're not in the top 30 of the bunch, forget about it. Bad for Ag2r, as he is their main man for the Classics; the Swiss had a lively Gent-Wevelgem midweek. gap down to 4.22, seems the bunch is setting the pace a bit higher though CSC lead the bunch, looking smooth over the cobbles. Krivtsov down as he hit the cobbles.

1435 CEST - Slipstream man Frischkorn is struggling on the cobbles, quite a way back. 4 minutes left of the gap, the bunch slowly is hauling them in. Hoste is visible near the front, but Quick Step are going to have to move up. Hincapie moves on to Cancellara's shoulder, and Boonen appears beside him.

Boonen and Flandres revelation (but already known to some of us.....) Langeveld showing up in the frontlines. CSC's pressure there alone created a group of about 40 riders. Let's see what Arenberg does... to make that 25 riders. The other group is coming back up to them rapidly though. Lotto Silence take the front now, the pace is relentless.

The chase group follows with Kiwi Julian Dean. Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

The Stablinskie Memorial along side the entrance, Stablinski was actually a miner at the Wallers Trench once. The break - Serov, Kuyckx and Pronk - is on this dreaded section now. A water bottles goes flying; they're like grenades on sections like this. Anything not tightened down fully will pop out. The amount of cars and motor caravans that were parked on the grass by the entrance of the Arenberg Forest was such a sight.....hundreds of them, all with people coming to se this hellish part of this epic race.

Big crash in the bunch. The Caisse d'Epargne rider hit the ground very hard. Pozzato went down. Flecha trying to get back to the bunch. Pozzato has remounted. Posthuma waits for Flecha. Arnaud Coyot went down; panic for Pozzato meanwhile. What timing. What an awful time to crash. The adrenaline will be coursing through the two contenders, Flecha and Pozzato, involved in the fall.

1444 CEST - The crash dimishes the number in the bunch The break is riding the mud-track to the side of the cobbles on the Arenberg section! Our leaders are splitting slightly in the Forest. Devolder and Boonen in the frontlines of the bunch Van Summeren and Van Avermaet as well; Franzoi may have fallen too.The bunch is all over the road, madness. A Liquigas rider is a few metres in front of the pack. Tall Van summeren is in good shape as well and displaying it in wallers. Out of the section, Johan van Summeren leads Tom Boonen.

Barloworld's Carlo Scognomiglio between the cars on Saint-Python.
Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

The shrapnel of the bunch, exploded by the veritable bomb that is the Arenberg section, tries to attach itself to the leaders. Cooke and Wesemann in the frontlines together with Hincapie and Boonen and more; Pozzatto is already a minute behind, but he doesn't give up and fights on. Impressive. Martijn Maaskant is the Slipstream man riding well, in a front group of around 10 among the favourites. The whole bunch has shattered into small groups.

High Road and CSC are best-represented in the front group, but they're about to be joined by a few more riders. 39 year old Baldato still seems to enjoy his ride over the cobbles and they now have some tailwind. The front group has swelled to around 25. Devolder and some Quick Step team-mates are back on to support Boonen. Ouch on the Liquigas thigh of Pozzato he's bleeding. Flecha is riding with vigour too, but he must know it's going to take some ride to even challenge for victory. People make fun of Pozzato (myself included), but he is pretty hard.

1450 CEST - 85 km to go,  - 1'24" is the deficit to the breakaway, with Pozzato's group just over a minute further back. This next section of cobbles is rather dusty; temperature aside, the conditions are like last year. Silence-Lotto and CSC are laying on the pressure to prevent Flecha and Pozzato from coming back on.

Pozzato and a Skil/Shimano rider chase to regain the peloton after the crash.
Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

While Flecha and Pozzato are putting so much pressure on the chase group that it is tearing apart. Quickstep is joining Silence-Lotto and CSC. Pozzato has trouble with his bike, but there is no assistance to be had. Flecha and Pozzato have to hope that the cooperation up front stops up at some point. Hammond and Wesemann - remember him? - move to the front.

83km - 48 seconds between the break and the leaders. Pozzato/Flecha are still a minute down. He may be getting on now, but Wesemann has a good Classics record. Johan Van Summeren leads the peloton, who are now one minute behind the three leaders. The group including Flecha and Pozzato are 2:30 adrift.

Van Summeren, winner of Flanders a few years back  I'm counting 5 CSC riders in the front - O'Grady seems to be missing. Wesemann also came second in this race in 2002! And third last year too... Hincapie doesn't look right without those electric white-Oakley shades.

In the Juniors race: Andrew Fenn wins ahead of a Czech What a ride by the young Briton!

Fans and team personnel wait for the riders at the end of paves sector 20 - De Maing à Monchaux-sur-Écaillon. Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

The longest of the sectors now the 3.7 km De Hornaing à Wandignies - Our leading trio have just a thirty second lead now. It's curtains for them In the break, Serov has been distanced. Tinkoff's Serov is caught. Good ride by young Belgian rider Kevin Neirynck; he just made contact with the leaders. Eisel, Hincapie lead the chase. High Road lead the pursuit of Pronk and Kuyckx; the gap is down to 20 seconds. Puncture for Kuyckx, he whips out the front wheel but the leaders still pass him.

1507 CEST - 75 km to go, Pozzato gets a bike change, Finally... he's been having trouble with the bike since Arenberg. Sector 15 next on the menu, De Warlaing à Brillon 2.4 km long. Quick Step take over on the front from High Road. Tyler Farrar is taking advantage of furious Rabobank chasing, on the wheel of Flecha. Pronk is resisting well so far, but if he looks behind, he will see the favorites.

Pozzato's group is only 45 seconds down on the leaders though. Great pluck. And Pronk is about to be swallowed by the favorites; but loosing some powers in this chase, powers that may lack at the end. The main favorites are sitting strong - Boonen with 4, Cancellara with 4, Hoste with 2 or 3 men, and Hincapie with 2. Sure looks like they are eager to get to roubaix by the pace they are heading over the cobbles.

1514 CEST - Is Hincapie's Saddle all ok today? Rest assured, if he makes it to the outskirts of Roubaix with the leaders, it's possible - nee likely - that a lightning bolt will strike down Hincapie. Quick Step and CSC are, as planned, the strong teams in the race with five riders both in the leading bunch. High Road are not doing badly either with three riders, Hincapie, Hammond and Eisel.

The riders in the main bunch are: O’Grady, Breschel, Cancellara, Johansen, Ljungqvist (CSC), Langeveld (Rabobank), Wesemann (Collstrop), De Voght, Roelandts, Van Summeren (Silence Lotto), Fischer (Liquigas), Boonen, De Jongh, Devolder, Huslmasn,Weylandt (Quick Step), Hincapie, Eisel, Hammond (High Road), Ballan (Lampre), Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Grabsch (Milram), Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Mengin (FDJ).

With the sun on their backs Quick Step leads the peloton with Tom Boonen and Devolder in second and third wheel as the peloton stretches out behind them. Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

Former winners Servais Knaven, Frederic Guesdon and Magnus Backstedt are not in the leading bunch. 71,5 km to go, sector 14 next 2.4 km De Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières - And STILL Pozzato is working hard to get back into the elite leading group. Former winner Knaven is taking advantage of his efforts.

Update the list above to include: Hincapie, Eisel, Hammond (High Road), Ballan (Lampre), Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Grabsch (Milram), Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Mengin (FDJ), Clerc, Martias (Bouygues Telecom), Cooke (Barloworld), Maaskant (Slipstream), and Flecha gets back on what an effort for the Spanish rider!

CRASH! A Lotto Rider went down... Hoste.. Flecha shares a quick word with Boonen: "Did you think it was that easy to get rid of me, pal?" Amazing - Pippo is within twenty seconds of our leading group 35 km of chase scraped and in torn kit. Flecha is back in the leading group and Pozzato is about to do the same in the feeding zone, helped by Servais Knaven and Tom Veelers. The question is how much Pozzato and Flecha have left on the roads. De Jongh and Steegmans doing their job for Quick Step leading the front group.

1529 CEST - 63 km to go, Perhaps Pozzato is going to emulate Devolder's ride from Flanders - everyone questioned his end game when he attacked, since he'd worked so hard for Boonen earlier on. Quick Step at the front of the group of 35 with the favorites. Ljungkvist attacks - CSC opens the ball to put pressure on the opposition. He's got a gap of around 100m Lotto and Quick Step respond. In front of him, the dust kicked up by race vehicles signifies the start of Mons-en-Orchies.

High Road reacts immediately to pull Ljunqvuist back High Road go hard and rein him in - Boonen is on their wheel. Under the pressure, the group has broken up, but should come back together on the tarmac. Guesdon and Mengin in the frontlines. it was 11 years ago Guesdon won this race. Hincapie taking the bit between the teeth, but Boonen looks impressive. Boonen has no team-mates though. Cancellara, Ljunqvuist and O'Grady on Boonen's tail. Smart riding from CSC.

Looking through the group, Cancellara, Ballan, Langeveld, Mengin and Cooke are also among the riders there. Attack from Van Sumeren and Langeveld? Langeveld and Ljunqvist go into a ditch. Another crash nowO'Grady, Van Sumeren and FdJeuax rider in front. Langeveld bit the dust hard there - his bike may have hit the ditch, but he hit the tarmac; they are brought back by what remains of the favorite group.

Ljungvist then caused a Bouygues Telecom man to crash into the ditch, as he was remounting. Safe riding there, Markus. Langeveld with some new material material not body material. As I saw it, the BT man crashed into Marcus. Youthful pride bruised.. and what comes before a fall, after all? Hincapie slow leak Hincapie dropped again. A spectacular crash by Dutchman Steven Langeveld split the leading group. Hincapie was among the riders held by the crash. High Road's car is way back in the cavalcade after yesterday's draw.

High Road’s Bernhard Eisel raised the tempo on the Orchies cobbled section. The main bunch split, Hincapie's wheel looks very strange... I wonder where got it off?

54km to go... Hinkster works his way back, the arms sorta relaxed on the steer, he joins Langeveld, who passed him by just seconds ago. Difficult riding for Hincapie, constantly being blocked by slowly moving team cars.Hincapie is riding like a frantic NY courier, dodging around slowing team cars, to get back on.His deficit is 18 seconds.

Lotto on the attack...Devolder tries to go. Cancellara is behind Boonen like his bad shadow. Crash it's Johan van Summeren. Neyrinck also down, and up again, on the road, back on track - CSC have two men trying to close the gap.

1545 CEST - The pace which gets a bit higher now, is making it more and more difficult for Hincapie to get back. Van Sumeren, Bonnen, Devolder, Ballan, Cancellara, O'Grady are making the cut...and Maaskant Belgium’s Johan Van Summeren (Silence Lotto) is alone in the lead in cobbled section 11. Van Summeren has been caught; yet another Dutch youngster doing well this spring. Hincapie is losing time, now 38 seconds down. Of greater concern for High Road, they have nobody in the lead octet.

Live coverage continues in Part 2.

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28 Pave Sections - 57 total kms
Cobblestone Sector/mile/length/location
28 098,0 2200m De Troisvilles à Inchy
27 104,5 1800m De Viesly à Quiévy
26 107,0 3700m De Quiévy à Saint-Python
25 112,0 1500m Saint-Python
24 119,5 1900m De Vertain à Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon
23 126,5 1700m Capelle-sur-Écaillon - Le-Bruat
22 138,5 1600m De Verchain-Maugré à Quérénaing
21 141,5 2500m De Quérénaing à Maing
20 144,5 1600m De Maing à Monchaux-sur-Écaillon
19 156,0 2500m De Haveluy à Wallers
18 164,0 2400m Trouée d’Arenberg
17 170,5 1600m De Wallers à Hélesmes
16 177,0 3700m De Hornaing à Wandignies
15 184,5 2400m De Warlaing à Brillon
14 188,0 2400m De Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières
13 194,5 1400m De Beuvry-la-forêt à Orchies
12 199,5 1700m Orchies
11 205,5 1200m De Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée
10 211,0 3000m Mons-en-Pévèle
09 217,0 0700m De Mér
09 217,0 0700m De Mérignies à Pont-à-Marcq
08 220,0 1400m De Pont-Thibaut à Ennevelin
07 225,5 0200m Templeuve - L’Épinette
07 226,0 0500m Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain
06 232,5 1300m De Cysoing à Bourghelles
06 235,0 1100m De Bourghelles à Wannehain
05 239,5 1800m Camphin-en-Pévèle
04 242,5 2100m Carrefour de l’Arbre
03 244,5 1100m Gruson
02 251,5 1400m Hem
01 258,0 0300m Espace Crupela

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