Dutchman Van der Poel wins fastest ever Paris-Roubaix
ROUBAIX - Mathieu van der Poel won the Paris-Roubaix cycling classic on Sunday, breaking away solo on a dangerous cobbled section for a magnificent solo triumph.
The 28-year-old Dutch rider produced a string of aggressive attacks before the decisive move on the epic 256.6km race which included 54.5km of rough cobbles.
Jasper Philipsen finished 46sec behind to beat fellow Belgian rider Wout van Aert into second at the Roubaix velodrome finish-line.
After an early fall featuring three Ineos riders an elite clique broke away until only seven top riders were left, including Filippo Ganna, Mads Pedersen, Stefan Kung and 2015 winner John Degenkolb.
The action then exploded on the Carrefour de L'Arbre five-star cobbled section with 20km to go when Degenkolb fell sprawled on the ground, several riders swerving to avoid him in a move that caused Van Aert to puncture.
Van der Poel burst away and never looked back as he added this race to his recent Milan-SanRemo triumph.
"It's impossible to do better than this," said the 28-year-old Alpecin-Deceuninck rider.
"When I passed Van Aert his face looked low, I didn't know he had a puncture. But that's Roubaix, you need good legs and good luck," he said.
On a sunny Easter Sunday over 10,000 fans awaited the peloton at the short Trouee d'Arneberg section alone, another five-star cobbled section where wheels broke as well as dreams.
Defending champion Dylan van Baarle was one of the many crash victims there and his teammate Christophe Laporte took a puncture, leaving team leader Van Aert alone with his rivals, two of whom were on Van der Poel's team. - AFP