Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard) claimed his third victory in Paris-Roubaix after outsprinting Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) at the end of the 254km classic in northern France today.
The Swiss rider took the victory after powering past the Belgian on the home straight of the Roubaix Velodrome after the pair had cleared off on their own in the final 20 kilometres of a fast, dusty, sun-blessed edition of the race.
After last week’s win in the Tour of Flanders, his win marked a second cobbled-classic double for the Radioshack-Leopard rider after doing the same in 2010.
Although showing considerable strength to bridge to the leaders from the third group back, his victory today was not quite the same runaway success of three years earlier.
On the track in Roubaix, the result could have as readily gone to a strong looking Vanmarcke, while two crashes in the run up to this weekend had the potential of ruling Cancellara out of the race altogether.
“I still don’t know how I did it,” noted Cancellara afterwards. “That’s what makes this victory so special.”
As it turned out, it was bad luck for the lively looking Omega Pharma-Quickstep pair of Stijn Vandenbergh and Zdenek Stybar that might have played the most significant part of shaping the outcome of the race.
Both had been members of a four man lead group entering the often decisive Carrefour l’Arbre pavé section but Vandenbergh crashed out in an attempt to avoid a spectator and Stybar stalled after another similar but separate incident on the same stretch of cobbles.
With this, Cancellara and Vanmarcke were gone and Omega’s favourable chances disappeared in a cloud of dust.
Only Nicki Terpstra’s third place from the next group of chasers salvaged anything for the Belgian team from the race.
“I think we could have played a really nice tactical hand in the final,” he noted afterwards.”
Team Sky’s race proved equally forgettable with Ian Stannard having to pick himself up off the ground during the very earliest skirmishes on the cobbles while Geraint Thomas also came down on pavé.
The team’s focussed cobbled classics campaign thus comes to an unspectacular end with Bernhard Eisel claiming their best place on the day in 12th.
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Radioshack-Leopard in 5:45:33
2. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Blanco in same time
3. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep) at 31secs
4. Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
5. Damien Gaudin (Fra) Europcar both same same time
6. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep at 39sec
7. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-Green Edge
8. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Vacansoleil all same time
9. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 50secs
10. Sebastian Turgot (Fra) Europcar at same time
51. Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky at 3:32
79. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 14:34
109. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky at 26:16
115. Russell Downing (GBr) NetApp-Endura at same time
Gert Steegmans, Stuart O’Grady and Mat Hayman in the early escape
Dry conditions for Paris-Roubaix 2013
Fabian Cancellara chases
Fabian Cancellara takes the sprint win
A tired post-race Fabian Cancellara
Paris-Roubaix 2013: Photo gallery