Two-man sprint decides the race on the velodrome
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) pulled off a thrilling performance to win the 2013 Paris-Roubaix in a dramatic sprint finish with Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco). Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma QuickStep) sealed the final place on the podium.
and Vanmarcke pulled clear on the Carrefour de l'Arbre pave when Stijn
Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma QuickStep) and then his teammate Zdenek Stybar
crashed into spectators. But for one last ditch attack from Cancellara
in the closing five kilometres, the leading duo shared the pace setting
all the way to the Roubaix velodrome.
Vanmarcke led out, but Cancellara simply had more in the tank and had
enough to win his third Roubaix title and his second Flanders and
Roubaix double of his career.
“I was in another world of riding! I still don’t know how I did it.
I was dropped and pretty far back but then I started to move up. This
is a race you can never give up on until the end. I had to play with
him in the end because I tried to go away but he followed so then I knew
it was man against man. I’m happy for the team and for me. Now I look
forward to rest and a holiday. Mission accomplished,” Cancellara said.
The foundations for Cancellara's win were built on solid work from
his teammates, who controlled the race in the opening 200 kilometres,
never allowing a break to gain more than two minutes and then
shepherding their leader towards the front on the Auchy-lez-Orchies -
Bersée sector of pave.
It was clear from as early as last weekend's Flanders triumph that
Cancellara would be the marked man, but he took the race by the scruff
of the neck and although his surge forward in Orchies didn't win him the
race, it drew out his main challengers. Thor Hushovd, Taylor Phinney
and Edvald Boasson Hagen were the first to fall by the wayside but those
that remained played their cards, and allowed Cancellara both a brief
respite and opportunity to see would match him.
By the end of the 11th sector, only Cancellara, the Omega
Pharma-Quickstep trio Nikki Terpstra, Zdenek Stybar and Vandenbergh,
Europcar duo Sébastien Turgot, Damien Gaudin, Blanco duo Sep Vanmarcke
and Lars Boom and also Sebastiaan Langeveld, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC),
Bernard Eisel (Sky), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Luca
Paolini (Katusha) remained in contention.
In front, Langeveld and Vanmarcke anticipated the next pavé stretch
where Vandenbergh and Gaudin impressed as they rode away from the rest
of the group. Behind the four leaders, a poker game unfolded. The result
was that four more riders rode away from the Cancellara group. When
exiting sector 7, the eight leaders were Langeveld, Vanmarcke, Gaudin,
Vandenbergh, Stybar, Van Avermaet, Flecha and Paolini.
On the roads towards sector 6, Cancellara closed to the eight leaders
on his own, by far his most impressive feat in the race. Having dropped
back to his team car and dragging Boom, Terpstra and Eisel with him, he
quickly realised he had isolated three major threats. Within a flash,
he had left them for dust and was soon back with the Flecha group.
Meanwhile Vandenbergh and Vanmarcke didn't wait for Spartacus and
snuck off the front. When reaching sector 6, Cancellara and also
Terpstra joined the chase group, half a minute behind the two Belgian
leaders. On the same section where Cancellara crashed during the
reconnaissance, the second part of sector 6, the cobbles of Bourghelles à
Wannehain, the Swiss rider accelerated. Only Stybar was able to keep up
While Cancellara time trialed towards the two leaders on the wide
roads after the cobbles, Stybar tried to hold his wheel. Just before
reaching sectors 5 and 4 there were four leaders in the race:
Cancellara, Vanmarcke and teammates Vandenbergh and Stybar. Chasers
Flecha, Langeveld, Terpstra, Van Avermaet and Gaudin were half a minute
down on the leaders. A large group with Boom, Eisel, Paolini, Kristoff,
Leukemans and others were further behind.
Vandenbergh was already losing contact on the cobbles of the Carrefour
de l'Arbre when he clipped a spectator and fell in the early phase of
the sector, leaving Stybar with the difficult job of marking both
Cancellara and Vanmarcke.
The former cyclo-cross star looked comfortable on the cobbles though, but when he also rode into a fan, there was no way back.
Bright skies for Compiègne start
In contrast to the massive crowds in Bruges last week, the start in
Compiègne was much more low-key. Teams were still rolling in toward the
Place Charles de Gaulle in front of the Compiègne castle less than an
hour before the start of the race. While temperatures dived under
freezing point early in the morning, the sun did enough to persuade
riders to wear short-sleeved kits once the race got underway at 10:20
The pace was high right from the start with many teams trying to get a
rider in the breakaway group. Thirteen riders managed to get a gap
after 17km of racing, but the sizeable group didn't receive the ok from
the peloton. The outcome was a blistering fast first hour of racing,
averaging just under 50km per hour. The group was caught, and several
more attempts fell short.
Upon hitting the first pavé sectors after 100km of racing, the
peloton was back together. On the second cobbled stretch of the day,
there was a crash which quickly reduced the peloton and hindered men
like Stijn Devolder and Ian Stannard. In front, four riders finally
managed to get away. Former winner Stuart O'Grady (Orica-Greenedge) was
joined by Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Matthew Hayman (Sky)
and Clément Koretzky (Bretagne-Seche Environnement). The four got away
in sector 22, at 124km from the finish. Behind them, André Greipel
(Lotto-Belisol) tried to bridge up but the German sprinter fell short.
At the back of the peloton, Yoann Offredo (FDJ) crashed out of the race
when he didn't notice a traffic island.
The four leaders built up a lead of more than two minutes over the
peloton where Team Saxo-Tinkoff set the pace for their leader Matti
Breschel when heading towards the famous Wallers-Arenberg forest.
Steegmans led the breakaway into the Trouée Arenberg with a gap of 1:30
on the peloton. Thanks to the efforts from Taylor Phinney (BMC), John
Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
that gap was brought down to 40 seconds once out of the 2400m long pavé
sector. In contrast to previous years, there were barely no crashes in
The four leaders struggled to hold off the peloton which at sector 17
closed in to touching distance. Nevertheless they reached sector 16
with a 30-second bonus. At that point Steegmans and Hayman left their
companions behind. At the same time, Michael Schär (BMC) launched a solo
move to join the leaders. In the peloton, outsiders like Filippo
Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) and Geraint Thomas
(Sky) were affected by a crash while BMC's leader Thor Hushovd (BMC)
After 185km of racing and with 69km left to cover, the riders reached
the second feed zone. The duo forced Schär to work hard and long but
20km after his initial acceleration, he finally joined the two leaders. A
little later, Damien Gaudin (Europcar) bridged up with the leaders, who
were riding only half a minute ahead of the reduced peloton.
Sector 11 was the first one where Cancellara moved to the front and
from there the pace never dropped. By the time the race reached sector
10, the famous Mons-en-Pévèle the leaders were caught.
Former Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) flatted
while his compatriot Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
impressed in front. No more than 13 riders survived the selection of
this sector. They were top favourite Cancellara, Terpstra, Stybar,
Vandenbergh, Turgot, Gaudin, Vanmarcke, Boom, Langeveld, Van Avermaet,
Eisel, Flecha and Paolini. A little later, Turgot dropped out of the
lead group with a flat tyre and Cancellara moved into position.
“It’s amazing having a third victory. When I see how in this race
everyone was against our team, against me, I just had to do a selection.
The team came into a little bit of difficulty because we lost a few
guys because of bad luck. But that’s Roubaix. It’s always nice to win
alone but today there was pure fighting until the very end. I could not
believe it when I crossed the finish line. My legs and my head wanted
to bring me here,” Cancellara said.
Article By: Cycling News