Sonny Colbrelli has expressed his amazement after winning a legendary 2021 edition of Paris-Roubaix.
The European and Italian champion formed a small chasing group after the Trouée d'Arenberg and eventually worked his way into the race's winning move, beating Alpecin-Fenix's pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel and little-known Florian Vermeersch of Lotto-Soudal in the velodrome.
It is Colbrelli's eighth win of a superb season, the 31-year-old falling to the grass in the immediate aftermath of his victory and letting out cries of joy and disbelief.
"It's unbelievable," the Bahrain Victorious rider told Eurosport. "My first Paris-Roubaix and I win? I don't know. I am very happy.
"Today is a legend [edition] of Roubaix, no? With the rain, with the weather, with the race at the start, I attacked with 90km to go after the Arenberg and always I followed Van der Poel. Then after a super sprint I am very happy for this victory.
"It was super difficult: for the pain, for the attention, for the fight [to be] first on the sector; always there was stress in having [a good] position on the cobble stones."
Earlier in the race it looked like Italy's first winner in the Hell of the North since 1999 would come via Gianni Moscon, the Ineos Grenadiers rider holding an advantage of over a minute with 30km to ride.
A flat tyre and then a fall on the cobbles wrecked Moscon's chances, though, allowing Colbrelli, Van der Poel and Vermeersch to take charge in the final 15 kilometres.
The trio entered the velodrome as one and Colbrelli timed his sprint right to come back Vermeersch.
"Gianni attacked 30, 40km at the start of the race - he was super, super strong," Colbrelli said of his fellow countryman. "How long is that, 200km? But behind Gianni, me, Van der Poel, Florian and the other two riders we worked well together.
"The Lotto Soudal rider started at 200 metres to go, but at 25 metres I jumped for the lead. I was on the limit but I am very happy.
"My [favourite] race is Flanders, and then second Roubaix. This is amazing. This year is my... I am very happy."
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1