Roubaix - John Degenkolb became only the third man to complete a Milan-San Remo
and Paris-Roubaix double in the same year with his victory in the north
of France on Sunday.
Degenkolb, who was second in the Hell of the
North race last year, beat Czech Zdenek Stybar and Greg Van Avermaet of
Belgium in a seven-man sprint finish in the outdoor velodrome in
Irishman Sean Kelly in 1986 and Belgium's Cyrille van
Hauwaert back in 1908 were the only other riders to claim those two
Spring Classic races in the same year.
But there was an air of
inevitability about Degenkolb's win once the 26-year-old arrived in the
velodrome as part of a seven-man leading group.
Last year, Degenkolb had easily taken a sprint finish for second place behind breakaway winner Niki Terpstra.
was one of two riders, alongside last weekend's Tour of Flanders victor
Alexander Kristoff, who every other rider was keen to drop before the
But while Norwegian Kristoff, who was second to Degenkolb
in San Remo having won it last year, struggled to keep up once the
decisive move was made and limped in 10th, the German showed great
determination to stay at the front right to the end.
and fellow Belgian Yves Lampaert broke clear 11km from the end and built
up a lead of 10 seconds but Degenkolb chased them down alone.
The two Belgians let Degenkolb lead the way but were caught by four more riders in the final 3km.
this point it seemed highly unlikely that anyone could beat Degenkolb
and true to form, despite Stybar launching out for home first, the
German passed him with aplomb and took the victory with ease.
Lars Boom, who won last year's Tour de France stage that covered some
of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, finished fourth with Swiss Martin Elmiger
In his last road race before leaving Team Sky and returning
to the track ahead of next year's Rio Games, reigning Olympic and world
timetrial champion Bradley Wiggins finished 18th, in a group 31sec
Last year's winner Niki Terpstra was 15th in that same group, which was headed by Kristoff.
a fast start to proceedings that saw the riders cover more than 50km in
the first hour, the 253km race was animated by a nine-man breakaway
that formed around the 30km mark.
Inside the first 100km the race lost one of the favourites as two-time Flanders winner Stijn Devolder crashed out.
was followed by Wiggins's teammate Geraint Thomas, who went down hard
just after the tough Arenberg cobbled section -- one of 27 such sectors
covering almost 53km.
Thomas never made it back to the rapidly thinning peloton as the Etixx-Quick Step team of Stybar and Terpstra upped the pace.
There was brief drama when a barrier at a railway crossing came down as the peloton was passing under it.
rider was clipped by a barrier and several more crossed after it was
down, but by the time a TGV train passed, the remaining riders had been
brought to a halt by a vigilant police motorcycle.
Five of the
original nine escapees survived until about 25km left with Frenchman
Alexis Gougeard the last to succumb at the 21km to go marker.
then the race was really on and Wiggins had tried his luck to go alone
33km from the finish but three riders joined him and all were brought
back around the time the breakaway was caught.
favourites including Belgians Sep Vanmarcke, who finished 11th, and
Jurgen Roelandts, who came home 21st, tried to strike out alone but
their attacks were short-lived.
The unheralded Lampaert made the decisive move and only Van Avermaet could join him.
Degenkolb sensed the danger and launched a counter-attack, quickly closing the gap.
he was part of a small leading group, Degenkolb appeared a near certain
victor and Van Avermaet, so often a bridesmaid in these major races,
was left in tears at the end after yet another near miss.
Leading results from the 113th Paris-Roubaix one- day classic on Sunday over 253.5km
1. John Degenkolb (GER/GIA) 5hr 49min 51sec, 2. Zdenek Stybar (CZE/ETI) same time, 3. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) s.t., 4. Lars Boom (NED/AST) s.t., 5. Martin Elmiger (SUI/IAM) s.t, 6. Jens Keuleleire (BEL/ORI) s.t., 7. Yves Lampaert (BEL/ETI) s.t., 8. Luke Rowe (GBR/SKY) at 28sec, 9. Jens Debusschere (BEL/LOT) 29, 10. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/KAT) 31, 11. Sep Vanmarcke (BEL/LNL) 31
15. Niki Terpstra (NED/ETI) 31, 17. Florian Snchal (FRA/COF) 31, 18. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) 31, 23. Peter Sagan (SVK/TIN) 31