Masterclass Gilbert grabs fifth Moument with Paris-Roubaix win

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Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) delivered a masterclass on the way to Roubaix to claim his fifth success in a Monument, after his victories in Lombardia (2009, 2010), Liège (2011) and Flanders (2017). The Belgian star is the first rider to dominate four different Monuments since Sean Kelly in the 1980s. The race was hard-fought from km 0 until the finish in the velodrome, where Philippe Gilbert outsprinted Nils Politt (Katusha Alpecin). Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) came third, ahead of Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), who also featured in the long-rang attack that eventually led to Gilbert’s triumph.

Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) fell ill overnight and isn’t part of the 174-man peloton that takes the start in Compiègne under fresh conditions. Riders quickly warm up with many attacks ahead of the first cobblestone sectors. Experts like Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) featured in early moves but nobody managed to open proper gaps until a very strong move got away just ahead of the first cobbles, between Troisvilles and Inchy (km 96.5), with a handful of favorites at the front.

Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Kamil Gradek and Michael Schär (CCC Team), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Matti Breschel (EF Education First), Nils Politt and Marco Haller (Katusha Alpecin), Tim Declercq and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Damien Gaudin and Adrien Petit (Total Direct Energie), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal), Bert Van Leberberghe (Cofidis), Davide Ballerini (Astana), Jorge Arcas (Movistar), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Gobert), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Cees Bol (Sunweb), Kris Boeckmans (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels) and Michaël Van Stayen (Roompot-Charles) open a 50” gap after two cobble sectors.

The Van Aert show

Matteo Trentin, Kris Boeckmans and Michaël Van Stayen are dropped due to punctures. Bahrain-Merida’s hard pace brings the peloton as they enter sector 23 (km 135). Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) also suffers different mechanicals and loses his chances to fight for the win while the battle is ongoing. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) are momentarily dropped in a second group with 115km to go. A 70-man peloton gets back together just ahead of the Trouée d’Arenberg.

Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) leads the pack as they enter the infamous cobble sector (km 162.5). Stijn Vandenbergh (AG2R La Mondiale) accelerates and opens a small gap while Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) suffers a mechanical. Vandenbergh is 10” ahead of the bunch after the sector, Van Aert trails by 30”. After returning to the pack a first time, the Belgian star changes his bike and then suffers a crash with 85km to go. He gets back again 72km away from the finish, after an impressive solo pursuit.

Gilbert unleashed

Wesley Kreder (Wanty-Gobert) accelerates in the sector nº16 and is joined at the front by Nils Politt (Katusha Alpecin), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe). Wout Van Aert reacts, Peter Sagan follows and a very strong group emerges in the sector of Mons-en-Pévèle (km 209): Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First), Nils Politt (Katusha Alpecin), Philippe Gilbert and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). They quickly open a 1’ gap to a 30-man pack.

Philippe Gilbert accelerates with 23km to go. Peter Sagan and Nils Politt immediately follow. Sep Vanmarcke and Yves Lampaert manage to bridge the gap inside the Camphin-en-Pévèle sector (km 240). Gilbert accelerates again in the Carrefour de l’Arbre but the key move happens with 13km to go, on the cobbles of Gruson: Politt attacks and Gilbert is the only one able to follow. They enjoy a 45” lead over their chasers after the sector 2, with only 6km to go.

Experience rules

Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) suffers a mechanical in the finale, Peter Sagan gives up and Yves Lampaert moves closer to the leading duo. Gilbert and Politt still enjoy a 15” lead as they enter the velodrome of Roubaix, where the experienced Belgian rider out-sprinted the young German hope. At 36 years old, he is the second oldest rider of Paris-Roubaix in the 21st century, after Mathew Hayman. And he can still dream of conquering the five different Monuments of cycling, to go along with his World champion title (2012).

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