Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) won Paris-Roubaix 2019 after a two-up sprint finish inside the Roubaix velodrome against Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin).
The Belgian has now won four different Monuments, five in total, adding Paris-Roubaix to Tour of Flanders, Il Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
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The former world champion entered the Roubaix velodrome in the wheel of Nils Politt, and opened his sprint in the last 100 metres, coming round the final bend.
Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) finished third, with Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) in fourth, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) fifth and Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) sixth.
The race, often a war of attrition, was as hard as ever today, with a number of strong riders launching multiple attacks throughout.
With 65km to go, Gilbert attacked the leading group of favourites, whittled down over the cobbled sectors, along with Politt and Rudiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe).
A number of riders then tried to get across, but the next big move was led by Peter Sagan, with the group reeling in Gilbert and Sagan animating the group, making it clear his intent for the move to stick.
This select group opened up a gap of more than a minute with 40km to go, featuring Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who suffered a heavy fall earlier in the race, Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), as well as Politt, Gilbert and Sagan.
Philippe Gilbert attacked again with 23km to go, taking Sagan and Politt with him, and as Lampaert dragged Vanmarcke back up to the leading group Van Aert was distanced, paying for his misfortune earlier in the day.
Despite Gilbert’s attacks typifying yet another attritional cobbled Classic, it was Nils Politt who opened up a huge gap with 14km to go, with only Gilbert able to go with him.
The two opened up a 40-second advantage as they headed towards the finish, with Sagan dropped from the chasing group with 6km to go as Lampaert hunted down the two leaders.
Gilbert and Politt entered the Roubaix velodrome, as a game of cat and mouse ensued, with both also looking around and waiting for the arrival of Lampaert. Politt led the duo, with Gilbert opening up his sprint first and going around the German in the last hundred metres to take the victory.
How it happened
Out of the 257km of Paris-Roubaix, 54.5km is covered with the 29 cobbled sectors, the first coming 97.5km into the race before coming thick and fast until the finish line housed inside the Roubaix velodrome.
The pre-race conversation centred around how open the race was this year, with many riders in contention to add the cobbled Monument to their palmarès.
Despite a flurry of early attacks, it was at the 85km mark, shortly before the first cobblestone section, where breakaway groups started to stick. Damien Gaudin (Total Direct Energie) was amongst a group of nine riders animating the race, with Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) featuring in the chasing group behind as Team Sky and Bora-Hansgrohe came to the front to drive the peloton after missing out on the moves.
The two groups came together to form a 23-rider breakaway just before the second cobbled sector, where a memorial has been created to honour Michael Goolaerts, who suffered a cardiac arrest in the race during this sector last year and later died in hospital.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and André Greipel (Arkéa-Samsic) both had early punctures, before the fourth sector, and were subsequently distanced. Taco van der Hoorn (Jumbo-Visma) was one of the first to suffer a nasty fall, with television pictures showing him motionless by the side of the road, although race commentary reported he was conscious as medical staff attended to him. Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Iljo Keisse was the next, hitting road furniture in what looked a painful crash.
As Greg Van Avermaet led the race on to the Trouée d’Arenberg, Peter Sagan and Wout Van Aert found themselves off the road, with Sagan managing to stay in touch with the group but Van Aert having difficulty, being left to chase a 50-second gap to the leading favourites, swapping bikes on his way and crashing on a corner, but still making it back on.
The first decisive move of the day came at the 65km mark, with Philippe Gilbert breaking away, taking Nils Politt and Rudiger Selig with him.
A number of counter-attacks followed, first from Luke Rowe (Team Sky), then Van Aert and also Christophe Laporte (Cofidis), but it was Peter Sagan who drove the chasing group back up to the front, catching Gilbert and making it clear just before sector 11 at Mons-en-Pévèle that this would be the move that contained the eventual winner of the race.
A group of six the made it off of the second five star sector in the lead, with Sagan, Gilbert, Van Aert, Politt, Vanmarcke and Lampaert all in contention for victory.
Van Avermaet attempted to animate the chasing group as they entered sector 10, but by this point the front group of six were making their move stick.
Gilbert attacked again at 23km to go, with Sagan and Politt taking his wheel, leaving his three countrymen behind, with Lampaert and Vanmarcke chasing back up but Van Aert distanced, paying for his mishaps and subsequent efforts earlier in the day.
Gilbert attacked yet again at 16km on the final five star sector of Carrefour de l’Arbre, racing up the gutter ahead of team-mate Lampaert with Sagan marking him.
But it was Politt who went a couple of kilometres later after the sector, opening up a big gap on the group, and only Gilbert was able to go with the German.
Sagan, Lampaert and Vanmarcke chased behind, with the latter signalling for a mechanical problem, and television cameras showing he was riding on team-mate Sebastian Langeveld’s bike, who is four inches shorter than the Belgian.
Peter Sagan was then dropped by the chasing group at 6km to go as Lampaert hunted down the front two, who had opened up a 40-second gap.
It was then down to just Gilbert and Politt to duel it out in the velodrome, with the more experienced Gilbert eventually coming out on top to win his first Paris-Roubaix title.
Paris-Roubaix 2019: Compiègne to Roubaix (257km)
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 5-58-02
2 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, at same time
3 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 13 secs
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First, at 40 secs
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 42 secs
6 Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 47 secs
7 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
8 Zdeněk Štybar (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9 Evaldas Šiškevičius (Lit) Delko-Marseille Provence
10 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) ED Education Firs, all at same time