104th Paris - Roubaix Race Report
CSC commented, "On Sunday Team CSC's 25 year old Swiss rider Fabian
Cancellara was responsible for one of the absolute greatest triumphs ever for
the team, when he won the Queen of the classics, Paris-Roubaix, also known as
"Hell of the North ".
Cancellara's attack was timed to perfection with earlier attacks that thinned
the lead group from fourteen to four when he launched his solo attack. Quickly
gaining a 40 second gap that grew to
CSC ran a tactically sharp race with a strong Lars Michaelson the main
support for team leader Fabio Cancellara. Cancellara was able to sit in the
first 14 riders that made the selection after the Arenberg cobble section and
the continuing effort leading to the usual attrition as riders were dropped;
with an eight man strong front group that later would decide the race between
them. With about 20 kilometers to go Fabian Cancellara took matters in to his
own hands. He launched a fierce attack on one of the worst pavées and folded
over his bike in his familiar time trial position headed solo for the finish
line in the velodrome in Roubaix.
The Swiss classics and tempo specialist built a lead of more than a minute to
his pursuers, counting major favorite Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and others, and
Cancellara subsequently crossed the finish line as a proud lone ranger.
"It's a totally indescribable feeling. I find it hard to put it into words,
but it's definitely the greatest moment in my entire career. The whole team has
a big stake in this victory because we've worked hard for a long time with this
in mind," said a much moved Fabian Cancellara after the day's 259 tough
"This is perhaps the biggest result in the history of the team; it is most
definitely one of them, but of course it's hard to compare the different races.
In my eyes Paris-Roubaix is the most spectacular one day race of them all, and
the way Fabian won it shows his great, great class," was
Bjarne Riis' satisfied comment after the victory.
The race ended somewhat controversially as numbers two, three and four, Leif
Hoste (Discovery Channel, Peter van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto) and Vladimir Gusev
(Discovery Channel) were all disqualified for crossing a railroad line
illegally. This meant that World Champ Tom Boonen was second, while Alessandro
Ballan (Lampre) was third.
The race was animated by an early break of 22 riders that were predictably
brought back by km 62.
A counter attack by Joost Posthuma (Rabbank), Nicolas Portal (Caisse
d’Epargne), Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile) and 40 year old Dimitry Konyshev of Team
LPR the oldest rider in the race; and gained a gap that rose to over four
minutes. Following in their wake was a chase group of three at 2 minutes: Iker
Flores (Euskaltel), Stephane Berges (Agritubel), Marco Righetto (Liquigas)
attempting to latch on to the leaders. Denmark's Frank Hoj left the
complacent peloton and in a strong solo effort joined up with the trio at 118
kms as they hit the Querenaing section of cobbles.
The race was contested luckily on a dry cobbles; but they appeared no less
dangerous and gave the photos and TV coverage of the race the typical almost fog
like quality to the contest. Hammond went down, and then Hincapie later both on
Discovery team; both remounted and carried on, but these crashes might be omens
for the decimation that the discovery team would face in the remaining
kilometers of the race. The Disco lads looked to be the victims of some strange
fate divined upon them by the cycling gods.
With 100 kms to the finish as the peloton approached the Arenberg
trench Quick Step and Discovery drove the peloton forward as gap the escapees
started to disappear.
Entering the Arenberg it was World Champion Tom Boonen on the attack, the gap to
the escapees was less than a minute as the peloton stretched out. True to the
past the selection of the winner would be the first twenty through the fabled
cobble section of Arenberg.
Recent Ghent Wevelgem winner Thor Hushvod punctured, sealing his fate for the
day; as the chase ended for the escapees as they were swept up by Boonen and
A group of 17 emerged from the trench with Tom Boonen leading the charge with
George Hincapie, Frederic Guesdon, Fabian Cancellara, Bernhard Eisel, Steffen
Wesemann, Juan Antonio Flecha, Lars Michaelsen, Vladimir Gusev, Leif Hoste,
Gert Steegmans, Alessandro Ballan,Peter Van Petegem and 27 year old Ag2R rider
Nicolas Portal the last remaining member of the break.
By the Warlaing cobble sector any hopes of the peloton connecting to the 14
was gone as a Boonen now without support and Discovery with three riders in the
select group pressed their advantage to 1:30. With three former winners in the
break: Tom Boonen (2005), Peter Van Petegem (2003) and Frederic Guesdon (1997)
feature in the leading group the drove at fearless pace over the cobbles, that
had them 2 minutes in hand by the feed zone. Guesdon was dropped with a
mechanical problem, while at the back Hushvod abandoned after another flat.
50 kms from the finish on Mons en Pevele, one of the most difficult pave
sections Fletcha rained attacks at the front driving the pace as Discovery's
Hincapie went down when his steerer tube broke and his handlebars separated from
the bike at the frame.
George did a impressive display of bike handling and high speed ballet to
balance the bike and get to the side of the rode, but when he couldn't unclip
one of his feet, he came down hard on his right shoulder causing a broken
shoulder. In obvious pain mixed with disappointment Disco's hardman, last years
second place rider and the best Classics Rider the USA has produced was
tragically out of the race. Hincapie undoubtedly in the best form of his career
in an opportune situation with two of his team in the break was given the worst
decision of the fates on this Sunday in Hell.
The attacks by Fletcha separate the 13 riders left in the break with counter
attacks by Boonen, Cancellara and Guesdon, by 32 kms the race is down to a lead
group of 8: Boonen, Cancellara, Van Petegem, Hoste, Gusev, Eisel, Flecha and
Ballan. Wessemen, Steegmans and Guesdon chase at one minute and a determined
Portal and Michaelson attempt to rejoin the lead group with a 30 second gap.
Allesandro Ballan goes down as Gusev slides across the dusted cobbles in
front, and falls; Fletcha following dashes around as they go down, amazingly
both riders are up and back on the bikes and chasing to rejoin the break. Ten
minutes later at 240 kms both Ballan and Gusev are back. Alone in the distance
Nicolas Portal is on a solo chase attempting to join the action at the front,
his persistence and grit are admirable for a rider who has been in the action
from the early this morning.
20 kms to the finish Gusev attacked as Fletcha relaxes after his turn at the
front of the break and the only rider to respond in time is Fabio Cancellara as
they gain a gap. The gap grows as Fabio takes the lead and Gusev holds his
wheel, Cancellara is relentless as the gap increases to 30 seconds Gusev loses
his grip as they reach 15 km to the finish. Cancellara is now bent into his time
trial position the same one that won him the tour de France prologue two years
ago and flying across cobbles, asphalt towards the finish.
Cancellara Solo photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
"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." Locutus
www.dailypeloton.com live race ticker.
Behind Cancellara mayhem reigns, Super Tom Boonen is dropped by Alessandro
Ballan, Leif Hoste and Peter Van Petegem. Hoste and Van Petegem catch Gusev and
when they encounter a blocked railway crossing choose to go around the barriers
making a fatal decision that would set in motion their eventual disqualification
and resulting controversy after the Race Jury keeps them from joining Cancellara
on the podium for the celebration.
Meanwhile Boonen joins Ballan stopped by an official at the train tracks.
Cancellara on his solo gains time on the chasing Disco duo Hoste and Gusev who
play Van Petegem trying to weaken him on the way to the velodrome finish in
Boonen and Ballan fight non stop towards the finish but the combination of
attacks and then the rail crossing have put the riders out of contention... or
has it; as the later race jury disposition will put Super Tom at second, Ballan
at third and Fletcha at fourth. Over three minutes later the remnants of the
original 17 riders that survived the attack on the legendary and dreaded
Arenberg trench if they survived the race finish.
Boonen for his effort has made a great and dignified presentation as the
World Champion. When Tornado Tom drove the selection on the Arenberg with his
attack, none of his team mates made the bridge to join in support for his
victory. This didn't stop Boonen from attacking or doing his part in the break,
he drove the dynamics of the race and though weakened in the final kms never
stopped his efforts.
In the words of Jean Marie Blanc in his message for the race this year,
"...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!"
"...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."
official results and Photos
Paris Roubaix Fast Facts
Victories by Country:
Switzerland 2 *Counting Fabian Cancellara's win today.
1 each: Luxembourg, Russia, Sweden, and Germany,
Oldest Rider: Dimitry Konyshev of Team LPR
Riders at the Start: 194
Previous Top Ten Finishers
7 in PR in Sunday's race
George Hincapie USA Discovery 6
Leon Van Bon (Nederlands) 4
The following had three top ten finishes:
Tom Boonen Belgium (Quick Step/Innergetic) (now 4-2nd this year)
Lars Michaelsen Denmark (Team CSC)
Peter Van Petegem Belgium Team CSC
Marc Wauters Belgium (Rabobank )
Steffen Wesemann Germany (T-Mobile)