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Peter Sagan wins an enthralling Paris-Roubaix

Joe Robinson
8 Apr 2018

After attacking with more than 50km remaining, Sagan finally takes the 'Queen of the Classics'

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins the 2018 Paris-Roubaix outsprinting Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) who managed to cling on from the day's original break. Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) rolled in alone to complete the podium.

Sagan made the winning move from an astonishing 53km out, dropping a group containing most of the day's favourites. He caught the remnants of the day's break and was eventually joined by Dillier with both riders going clear. The World Champion managed to make this move stick despite the best efforts of those behind.

The real warrior of the day was Dillier. The Swiss road champion made the original break of the day managing to stay with Sagan when all others could not. 

The is the World Champion's second Monument after the 2016 Tour of Flanders and no doubt further's his legendary status becoming the first wearer of the rainbow jersey to win Roubaix since Bernard Hinault in 1981.

The tale of the day

The 2018 Paris-Roubaix rolled out of the town of Compiegne this morning with the daunting task of 257km through the hellish roads of northern France ahead.

Along route would be 29 secteurs of pave covering 52.8km including Tranchée d’ArenbergMons-en-Pévèle and the Carrefour de l’Arbre.

In usual Roubaix fashion, plucky hopefuls rolled the dice in hope of making the day's break with Quick-Step Floors marshalling any move that contained a strong team. The bunch ebbed and flowed across the wide roads as the likes of Cofidis and Foruneo-Sismec repeatedly sent riders up the road.

A small group finally managed to get a gap on the peloton with the main bunch easing with many heading back to team cars and stopping for comfort breaks.

The break was an eclectic mix of ProContinental riders there for sponsor coverage and WorldTour riders offering their teams a wildcard option. The most noticeable inclusion was Paris-Nice winner Marc Soler (Movistar), a Spanish General Classification rider making his debut at Roubaix.

Content with the make-up of the break, the gap grew to over six minutes.

The break then hit the first sectuer of pave, Troisvilles to Inchy, and immediately realised why this race is called 'hell'. The mud-sodden stones cause panic into the lead group as they slowed to an almost standstill.

The main bunch had less problems shouldering one enough to the front with all the usual suspects visible, that was, until a crash occurred taking down around 20 riders. This strung out the bunch and caused splits in the group with the main group consisting of no more than 100 riders.

Defending champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) found himself on the wrong side of the crash in a chasing group.

Because he can, Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) then decided to push on at the next section of cobbles, splitting the group of favourites further but they were quickly brought back.

In the space of a few seconds both Arnuad Demare (Groupama-FDJ) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) suffered punctures with 137km remaining while a small crash also saw Gianni Moscon hit the ground.

News then bagan to filter through of the first abandonments of the day. Among those were key BMC domestique Stefan Kung and Team Sky's Geraint Thomas.

Ahead of Arenberg, the pace settled allowing those chasing after mechanicals to regroup. You could tell that nerves were growing before hitting the first five star section of the day as riders fell in to team order. 

The Haveluy sector saw another crash, this time Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) being the victim. The Italian hit the floor bringing a last year's third place finisher Sebastian Langeveld (EF-Drapac) down with him.

The break then hit the greatest road in cycling with a 2 minute 30 gap  The thick mud coating Arenberg caused for a slow passage this year even for the group of favourites including World Champion Sagan who was towards the fore. 

The first meaningful break of the day occurred in the Trench with Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) going clear with Mike Teunissen (Team Sunweb). They were then joined by the strong Nils Pollit (Katusha-Alpecin) with Wout van Aert (Verandas Willems Crelan) chasing behind.

French champion Demare began to struggle and found himself distanced from the group of favourites as Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) began to turn the screw in pursuit of Gilbert with 77km remaining.

Gilbert was brought back by the main chasers which led to the attack of Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) who got a march on the favourites being joined by today's surprise package, Soler. The Spaniard unfortunately found himself dropped by the next sectuer.

Defending champion Van Avermaet rolled the dice being followed by Van Aert and Sagan. This serious attack seriously strung out the group of hitters who rolled through the 54km mark.

Sagan was next to go, maybe realising that he would have to go alone if he was to experience any glory. He soon caught the leading trio that remained from the day's break with 51km left. He was pursued by van Aert and Stuyven.

A big crash behind sees Luke Rowe (Team Sky), Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) and Martin hit the deck and allowed the lead of Sagan to extend to 53 seconds with 46km remaining. 

Mons-en-Pévèle was up next and caused a hat full of difficulties. Taylor Phinney (EF-Drapac) pushed on while Terpstra and Gilbert began to answer the threat of Sagan. The Slovakian, meanwhile, dragged the gap out to an entire minute.

It seemed as if nobody wanted to commit in the chase of Sagan, worried that their efforts would be exploited by a cunning rival. The screw turned which saw Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) distanced by Sagan with only Swiss champion Dillier left with the World Champion.

The gap grew to 1 minute 30 as the leading duo headed towards the last big test of the day, Carrefour de l’Arbre. In reaction, Terpstra attacked with Vanmarcke while Van Aert slipped a chain and found himself distanced. 

Hitting Hem, the penultimate section, Sagan and Dillier extended their lead back out to 53 seconds with just 6km left to race. The chasers behind began to look tired and it became obvious they were never going to make the catch.

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