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Paris-Roubaix Live
By Locutus
Date: 4/9/2006
Paris-Roubaix Live

Paris - Roubaix
The Queen of the Classics, join us for a Sunday in Hell for 259 kms and 27 sections of pave that is "the ultimate folly that the sport of cycling proposes to its participants " as Jacques Goddet referred to the race.

Paris (Compiègne) Roubaix - 259 km
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85 km left Welcome, and if you are just joining us, the race is already on! There is a major split in the peloton, and defending champ Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is in trouble: he is isolated in a lead group of just under twenty men that includes three Discovery riders (George Hincapie, Leif Hoste, and Stijn Devolder) as well as three CSC riders (including Lars Michaelsen and Fabien Cancellara). Lotto-Domo's big man Peter Van Petegem is also here, but he too is isolated. As the front group hits another section of cobbles, Lotto and Quick Step... mainly Quick Step... are leading a mad chase behind, desperately trying to bring back this break and even things up for Boonen.

Cancellara is leading the break through the pave, with Boonen trying to slow things down right on his wheel.

78to go Steegmans and Van Petegem (Lotto) are both in the front group for Lotto, so they are doing well. The chase of Quick Step behind has disintegrated on this new section of pave! Boonen is alone in the front, and it looks like he is not going to get any help.
The break has 1' 05" on the chase group. Lotto, Discovery, CSC, and are pushing the pace as the front group is back on flat pavement. Gusev is the Discovery rider up there with Hoste and Hincapie doing the work, not Devolder.
75km to go The front group is now on a three-star, 2.4km long section of pave.
Gusev leads on this section of pave looking good.
So there are fourteen men in the break. In addition to three Discovery riders, three CSC men, and two Lottos, there is a T-Mobile rider, two riders, and a couple of others.

The lead is now up to 1' 30" for the break! Boonen is sitting on the wheel of Hincapie. Wesemann is the lone T-Mobile rider.
Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank is also in this front group. He got third last year, and Wesemann has finished on the podium in the past too. But both of them are isolated like Boonen. It is Discovery and CSC and doing the work still looking good.

Things blew apart for Quick Step in the Arenburg forest, so Boonen will really have to ride an intelligent race to pull out a victory today.
Eisel and Guisdon are the two riders in this group. Both are capable of winning this race. This is really a top-flight front group.
Ballan of Lampre is also up here in the lead group. Caisse d'Epargne is in the front group too, looking comfy sitting on the back. Van Petegem and Boonen have a chat as they pull through with about 72km left, they aren't really pulling hard. Flecha now does his turn.

All fourteen men in the front group are pulling through, trying to open the gap further. It is now 1' 50" back to the 2nd group. It looks like the winner will come from this front group.

So the names in the front group again: Hincapie, Hoste, Gusev (Disco), Guisdon and Eisel (, Boonen (Quick Step) Van Petegem and Steemans (Lotto), Flecha (Rabobank), Ballan (Lampre), Cancellara, Michaelsen, and one other CSC man, Wesseman (T-Mobile), and Portal (Caisse d'Epargne).

The riders in the lead group get their feed bags. Now Guisdon has had a puncture, and is now chasing back to the leaders. Guisdon now holds on to his team car while his back wheel gets adjusted. The lead group is not full gas though, as they sort the
64.5km left . The lead is now up to 2' 00" for this front group. Looking very good for Discovery, this: their plan was to isolate Boonen, and it is mission accomplished so far. Cancellara is certainly looking good with two men up here with him.

Cancellara has just missed the podium in the past... today he's trying to step up. There is all wheat and no chaff in this front group. Guisdon has won this race before back in 1997.

Everyone in this front group is still taking a turn. Wesseman, former runner up, is taking his pull now. How long that will last is anyone's guess Behind in the 2nd group, Milram has taken up the chase in earnest now. They have brought the gap down to 1' 52".

The leaders are now on the Orchies section of pave. category three pave: 205 km Auchy-lez-Orchies at Bersée 2,6 km

Flecha is leading the way over this three star section with Wesseman on his wheel. Oh, Portal has now blown off the back. A CSC rider has taken over now on the front as they pass some bizarre pig statue thing on the side of the road. It's Michaelsen on the front. Boonen is now 2nd wheel, keeping out of trouble and making sure nobody gets away. Now Boonen takes the lead. Boonen isn't pullin hard... Wesseman comes through.

Portal has caught back up now that the brief section of pave is over. But if he came unhitched that easily, you can scratch him from the list of favorites to win today.
57 km left The gap is still 1' 45" for the fourteen leaders. Hincapie and Cancellara haven't spent much time in the wind recently. Hincapie takes his pull now, but it's a short one. He's saving his bullets.

The riders enter the 205 km Auchy-lez-Orchies at Bersée 2,6 km section.
The 2nd group still has about 60 men. Milram is getting some help from Lotto, but not much. They don't really look like they have the impetus to bring back these leaders.

So there are only two CSC riders up front. Discovery is the only team with three men in the lead group. The leaders hit the pave again with 53 km left: Hincapie is sitting near the back of the group on this section. On the front is Steegmans. Wesseman is 2nd wheel on this section, and looking very strong.

On the front is Steegmans. Wesseman is 2nd wheel on this section, and looking very strong. Hincapie is sitting on Cancellara near the back. Portal is hanging on to the tail of the group this time. Wesseman now takes up the pace. He puffs his cheeks and grits his teeth, the pave making his arms shake like he's holding a jack hammer.

Flecha attacks! Boonen follows! Neither man has teammates with them, so they are trying to shed some men from this group and even the odds. Cancellara responds, and now they have a small gap. Michaelsen and Wesseman are having problems near the back.
Well, Discovery is all over this... the three Discovery men are up to the wheel of the attackers. Flecha still drives it.

Boonen pulls through, looking over to see what damage they've done. Steegmans from Lotto was dropped, but he is now catching back up on the regular pavement again. That was a blistering bit of attacking on the pave. Michaelsen and Wessemen have just now caught up too.

Now there is another attack. It is an FDJeux rider. Flecha, and Gusev are on it quickly, and now they sit up and it's all fourteen men together again. Well, this series of attacks has the lead group looking at each other a lot. They are onto another section of pave, and Cancellara attacks on the Mons-en-Pevele.

Flecha is on this attack, and now so is everybody else. Flecha goes again! He has now counter-attacked! He is doing the Rabobank orange proud today. Van Petegem chases Flecha down.

Crash! Hincapie is down... he looks down, the handlebars are broken. George looks injured! His bike is wrecked! His handlebars just snapped!
George is just sitting on the side of the road. ] He looks like his right shoulder is hurting. I cannot believe this luck: George seems cursed in this race. He had the perfect tactical situation, and his stem just snapped on the pave. George is sitting on the dirt at the side of the road, cradling his right arm. It could be a right collarbone injury. When his handlebar snapped, George when straight over the top and onto his right shoulder on the pave.

Now four men have attacked. Boonen, Ballan, Van Petegem, and Cancellara are off the front with a huge gap over four chasers. The chasers are Hoste, Gusev, Flecha, and a FDJeux rider.
Steegmans, Guisdon, and Wesemann are in a third chase group. So the Hoste/Gusev group are back up to Flecha. They are almost up to Boonen. This race has blown to bits with Hincapie's crash. No new information on Hincapie yet. We'll let you know when we know.

40 km left It is Van Petegem, Boonen, Cancellara, Ballan, Hoste, Gusev, and Flecha on the front. Discovery still has the numbers, with two men in this group.

Now the leaders on the (at 225 km) Templeuve - L'Épinette 0,2 km section of pave. Eisel is behind a car getting a face full of grit off the pave. Cancellara and Van Petegem are again leading on this section. Well now Flecha is going on the attack again. Or is it just a strong tempo?
The leaders come off the pave now, and there are some team cars stopped with helpers handing out bottles to them. Hoste is calling for his team car. It is there? Or is it with Hincapie?

37 km left: Eisel of FDJeux is back up to the lead group. Wesseman, Steegmans, and Guesdon are still about 50" behind. Gusev takes a turn on the front. Now it's Boonen. They are working nice for now, waiting until the next pave section. Hoste pulls through. He didn't have a mechanical or anything. Maybe he just wanted information. Hoste pulls through. He didn't have a mechanical or anything. Maybe he just wanted information.

Well, with Hincapie gone due to his crash, Boonen is looking like the favorite again. They are now on the (225 km) Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain 0.5 km pave section. Boonen is on the front driving it. He looks unbeatable again, working that World Champion's Jersey.

Flecha now pulls through, while Boonen adjusts his, um, "equipment"... that looked uncomfortable. He was sorting his package on the fly. I must say the biggest surprise for me in this front group is Ballan of Lampre. This is a great performance for him. Gusev of Discovery is also riding an amazing race. He's done huge amounts of work, and he's still in with the leaders.

31 km left: Man, having seen Hincapie's bars/stem snap off his frame like that, it really makes you nervous. Will that same defect show up with his teammates' bikes? Probably not, but it makes you nervous. The real testing ground for bikes has got to be the Belgian Pave and Paris - Roubaix!

Van Petegem , now Ballan, now Hoste pull through. The group is pulling through with fast turns. The Wesemann group is still about 1' 22" behind, so they are out of it now. The peloton is way out of it.

27 km left: The lead group of eight is Boonen (QuickStep), Flecha (Rabobank), Gusev and Hoste (Discovery) Ballan (Lampre), Eisel (FDJeux), Van Petegem (Lotto), and Cancellara (CSC).
Boonen now pounds it on the pave of (232 km) Cysoing at Bourghelles 1.3 km a difficult section.

Ballan has crashed! It was a Discovery rider who took him out on a rough section of pave in the corner. It was Gusev. Flecha barely made it around that okay. Gusev is chasing trying to make it back. Ballan is almost back up to the leaders. The pave is over for now. So Gusev actually overturned on a rough section of pave in a corner, and he toppled over in front of Ballan. They didn't go down too hard, but any crash on the pave is painful.

Gusev is picking his way through the cars. Ballan is back. Now Gusev is back too, but now they are on some pave again. Van Petegem leads over the Bourghelles a Wannehain, a four-star section. Gusev is now not looking so good... he is still about 20 meters behind as the pave ends. Boonen leads the group, pulls off and flags the next rider to the front; looks like he isn't going to be sucked into wearing himself out pushing the pace.

Van Petegem leads over the (234,5 km) Bourghelles at Wannehain 1,1 km , a four-star section. Gusev is now not looking so good... he is still about 20 meters behind as the pave ends. Hoste goes to the front, but sits up a bit. Now Boonen comes around him. Gusev is still not back up to the group. The gap looks too big... it looks like Gusev won't make it back.

22 km left: So now none of these seven men left in the front group has a teammate. It is mano a mano a mano a mano a mano a mano a mano.

Discovery, who was looking so good, has had horrible luck over this last 50km. Gusev is back into the cars again... might he make it? Well, Gusev is back! Holy cow, what an effort just to make it back for Gusev after that crash. So Discovery has numbers again, two riders to everybody else's one.

They are now on the (239 km) Camphin-en Pévèle 1,8 km pave with 20km left with 4 more sections of pave to go to the Roubaix Velodrome.

Flecha is driving it on the front. He pulls off and now Van Petegem gives way to...Gusev! He is now attacking!
Can you believe it? He caught up when it looked like he was done for the day, and now he is attacking to soften things up for his teammate Hoste.

Cancellara counterattacks. It is Cancellara and Gusev with a gap! This is a nice gap! Wow, Cancellara and Gusev took a nice lead on that section of pave with only about 18km left. Cancellara doing all the work, Gusev just trying to keep up. Flecha is trying to close the gap, with Hoste on his wheel. So advantage Discovery again?

Ballan and Van Petegem now pull in the chase. (242 km) Carrefour de l'Arbre 2,1 km section of Pave.

17 km left: Cancellara and Gusev have a 20" gap. Gusev started the attack, and since then it has been all Cancellara. Now Cancellara has got a bit of a gap on Gusev on the pave! Flecha is in trouble on this very difficult section of pave. So it is Cancellara solo, riding away from Gusev. He is looking very, very good right now.

Cancellara said this week, ”I might as well come clean and say: I've never been better ahead of a Paris-Roubaix, and I believe my results this year show that. I've built up my form, and now one of the big goals of the season is right in front of me. This race suits me perfectly, and I've done everything I can to be ready,” says Cancellara about Sunday's monumental race, which occupies a very special place in the mythology of cycling sport, with about 50 kilometers of the race being on cobblestones, which are anything in between slippery wet and muddy to completely covered in clouds of dust – but always with a guarantee of a great race.

So it is Cancellara solo, riding away from Gusev. He is looking very, very good right now. Cancellara is now through the pave, but that's not good news either: Cancellara is an amazing time trialist, much better than the men chasing him in that discipline.

Boonen takes up the chase as the riders hit another section of Pave at Gruson. Now Hoste counter-attacks. Hoste has a gap! Hoste is trying to bridge up to his teammate Gusev. If he can reach his mate, they might be able to catch Cancellara.

Boonen Dropped! Van Petegem is on Hoste's wheel, and they have dropped Boonen! Boonen looks toasted, and Hoste and Van Petegem are looking strong. Cancellara is back onto the smooth road, with about 10" on Gusev and 20" on Hoste and Van Petegem. Hoste and Van Petegem reach Gusev, and these three are chasing hard trying to catch Cancellara.

So the race situation: Cancellara solo off the front with 30 seconds lead, chased by Hoste, Gusev, and Van Petegem. Then Flecha and Boonen are next on the road. Ballan was ahead of Boonen and Flecha, and so now these three have joined up to work together.

11 km left: Cancellara is still off the front, with 31" on the trio of Hoste, Gusev, and Van Petegem. That is a nice gap. Whoa! The train barriers came down! Boonen, Ballan, and Flecha have been stopped!!!

What next? Will aliens abduct Cancellara right before the velodrome? What a loss of momentum for Cancellara if he has to stop. Van Petegem and Hoste dodged through the barriers to make it through just in time.

Well, with that bizarre intervention, Cancellara now has 40" on Hoste, Van Petegem, and Gusev.
The Boonen group is now at 1' 20".

8 km left: Cancellara on the pave again. This is the (251 km) Hem 1,4 km It is not that bad. There is a patch of pavement up the side of the road. Cancellara is riding it at 45" clear of his chasers.

With this race, it is never over until it's over. Cancellara is looking good, but who knows? CSC, the American company, is rumored to be on the selling block. Despite this corporate instability, Cancellara looks like a good investment right now.

6.5 km left: Fabian "Turn Me Loose" Cancellara is in his time-trial position, gritting his teeth. He's flying right now.
7:57 AM [locutus] The gap is still 45" to the trio of chasers. Cancellara, 25 years old, not a stranger to the podium... could have the victory of his career in sight at the moment!

The gap is still 45" to the trio of chasers. Cancellara, 25 years old, not a stranger to the podium... could have the victory of his career in sight at the moment! Hoste and Gusev push on with Van Petegem in a vain attempt to bring back the flying Swiss rider. He's worn the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France, and now it looks like he will add a big cobble trophy to his mantle.

4.5 km left: The gap is out to 51" for Cancellara. Barring alien invasion, divine intervention, or really very bad luck, Cancellara is going to win this.

The Boonen group, which was delayed by the train, is at 1' 23" still. Van Petegem is now racing for 2nd against the two Discovery riders at 51".

2km left Gusev attacks Van Petegem. Well, the Lotto rider isn't happy about that. If they monkey around too much, Boonen will catch them with Flecha.

Gusev attacks Van Petegem. Well, the Lotto rider isn't happy about that. If they monkey around too much, Boonen will catch them with Flecha. Final section of pave for Cancellara.

Final kilometer
Cancellara is now getting near the velodrome. He rides in onto the track!
He is still pushing, but he's smiling more than grimacing now. The bell rings and the crowd goes crazy.

Here it comes, he is going to win. He raises his arms in the final corner, holding his head, he is kissing the sky. Cancellara wins it!

Here comes the ride for 2nd: Gusev leading out Van Petegem and Hoste. The Lotto rider is a better sprinter than his Discovery antagonists. Van Petegem actually goes to the front.

Here it comes... Van Petegem is coming up, but Hoste comes around him for 2nd.

A great victory for Cancellara, and another 2nd for Hoste. Poor Discovery! They had great form but rotten luck, bridesmaids yet again. Boonen comes around the velodrome with Flecha.

Cancellara is overcome with emotion. He still hasn't dismounted his bike. Cancellara is getting some big, big hugs from his teammates.

A disappointing day for the World Champion Boonen, but not bad considering how poorly his team did today. A heart breaker for George Hincapie and his fans too, George has displayed incredible form and strength in the last races.

Cancellara mounts the podium. He gets the trophy. What a great day for the young Swiss. Cancellara struggles to raise the big cobble trophy over his head. Be careful, dude!

Boonen gets the ProTour Jersey. His fifth keeps him well up in the lead. He didn't have his best day, but he still rode well.

Results (Provisional)

1. Cancellara (CSC)
2. Hoste (Discovery)
3. Van Petegem (Davitamon/Lotto)

4. Gusev (Discovery)
5. Boonen (Quick Step/Innergetic),
6. Ballan (Lampre)
7. Flecha (Rabobank)
8. Eisel (FDJeux)
9. Wesemann (T-Mobile)
10. Guisdon (FDJeux)

Results are Provisional (though this is the correct finish order of the riders.) The Judges are making a decision on the finish as Cancellara steps to the Podium alone; clearly there is no question that he has won Paris Roubaix. Full official results as soon as possible.
It appears that Hoste, Van Petegem and Gusev have been disqualified by the judges and relegated as no-race by the officials... likely we haven't heard the last of this.
Paris Roubaix 2006
Official Results:
259 km 6h 07: 54 42.239 km/h

=========== 1:49 ==============
2 001 BOONEN Tom QSI BEL 01: 49
3 071 BALLAN Alessandro LAM ITA 01: 49

4 021 FLECHA Juan Antonio RAB ESP 01: 49
============ 3:25 =============
5 114 EISEL Bernhard FDJ AUT 03: 25
6 121 WESEMANN Steffen TMO SUI 05: 35
7 111 GUESDON Frédéric FDJ FRA 06: 31
============ 6:44 =============
8 063 ROESEMS Bert DVL BEL 06: 44
9 117 MENGIN Christophe FDJ FRA 06: 44
10 146 SCHEIRLINCKX Staf COF BEL 06: 45

No word yet on Hincapie's injuries. I don't think he ever remounted his bike after his handlebars and stem sheared off of his frame. George didn't seem to have any head injuries, just a shoulder injury (or collarbone) on his right side that was obviously painful. But of course there was the emotional pain of knowing his race was over. Here's hoping Hincapie is able to come back soon, and be ready for the Tour of Georgia and the Tour de France with great form.

Thanks for joining us today.
Photos and complete results to follow shortly.

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Jean-Marie Leblanc
Editorial Message on Paris Roubaix
It’s not a grand cycling race like certain others. No great, top level champions have ever been seen at the start in Compiègne, whether current champions like Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso or former champions like Richard Virenque, Miguel Indurain and Gianni Bugno.

Their field of expertise doesn’t cover the ardent mental aptitude that welcomes "doing battle" with a hostile route that is trussed up into some twenty seven cobblestone sections, that breaks bodies and necessitates a will of iron, perhaps even a touch of masochism…
And yet the sport of cycling is such that Paris-Roubaix, more than ever before, holds a particular fascination. At times, men of little renown, at the price – literally! – of an inordinate passion for this type of competition have here won fame and praise: Marc Madiot, Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle, Andrea Tafi. Affection for the cobblestone sections overrides any amount of suffering: an admirable and tough conviction!

Paris-Roubaix is hence not a grand cycling race like certain others and yet it is a finer race than many others, in terms of its extraordinary dimension and the values it demands, which at times seem to call upon the past: tenacity, daring, heroism. Is this such a paradox if we acknowledge that the tough and the fine can exist harmoniously together?

In terms also of its social context as it has been adopted by an entire population, like a sort of regional ritual celebration that takes place on the second Sunday in April every year, the personification of a land and a culture. Isn’t this reflected in the commitment of the Northern representatives to invest in the preservation of the Arenberg Trench, renovated and rendered easier to pass?

To conclude, a well renowned sports event can no longer be conveyed without pictures, and pictures transmitted via television are inevitably charged with emotion. Hence is the framework of an incomparable real life drama produced by combining this inevitable media form with this hostile terrain and these frenzied athletes.
Yes, Jacques Goddet’s definition of the race forty years earlier holds true today: "the ultimate folly that the sport of cycling proposes to its participants ".

On Sunday the 9th of April, in the morning in Compiègne, and then later lining the roads of the Valenciennois, the Pévèle and the Mélantois areas, thousands will participate in this festive manifestation, the pride of a sport and a region.

For the 40th year running I will be faithfully present and confident of a powerful feeling of inner joy at approximately 5.30 p.m., at the side of the concrete track in the Roubaix Velodrome, when the heroes of the day dot the arena, exhausted but admirable.
Jean-Marie Leblanc

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