- - Paris-Roubaix 2023

Paris-Roubaix 2023

photo credits @ WTFK

Mathieu van der Poel Alpecin-Deceuninck) claimed an impressive victory in today’s Paris-Roubaix classic, after the Dutch rider capitalized on a unlucky puncture that plagued his main rival, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), as the duo went on the attack along the cobbled-sector of the Carrefour de l’Arbre.

With just under 4 kilometers to go, Van Aert decided to animate things with an attack. However, the Belgian rider found himself out-numbered by van der Poel and his teammate Jasper Philipsen, while Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) got dropped from the lead group.

In the end, Van Aert’s chances were stymied by the Alpecin-Deceuninck pair, with Philipsen out-sprinting the Jumbo-Visma rider to seize the second spot on the podium, while van der Poel breezed to a solo victory. 

Race Highlights

It took 90 kilometers of racing before a small breakaway group containing Juri Hollman (Movistar), Sjoerd Bax (UAE-Team Emirates), Derek Gee (Israel-PremierTech) and Jonas Koch (Bora-hansgrohe) finally emerged from the peloton.  

On the first 10 of 29 sections of cobbles, a crash ensnared 2018 winner Peter Sagan, forcing the Slovenian rider to abandon, while van Aert and his teammate Christophe Laporte later decided to ignite the peloton at the start of the Arenberg Forest, a move that was quickly followed by van der Poel, John Degenkolb of Team DSM and Groupama-FDJ’s Stefan Küng. 

Meanwhile, Pedersen and Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) were two of six riders to power away from the peloton, with the duo eventually bridging across to the van Aert/van der Poel group within a few kilometers to swell the leading group to 13 riders.

However, while van der Poel had the support of two Alpecin-Deceuninck teammates in Philipsen and Gianni Vermeersch, van Aert was left without any companions, as Laporte suffered a puncture immediately after exiting the Arenberg, just seconds after defending champion Dylan van Baarle hit the cobbles hard, taking Britain’s Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) down in the same incident.  

With 40 kilometers to go, the front group marched on, with Alpecin-Deceuninck doing the majority of the pulling.

With 51 kilometers to go, van der Poel made the first of three attacks inside 10 kilometers, with Philipsen, van Aert, Degenkolb, Küng, Pedersen and Ganna keen to respond. 

A lull then returned, as the group of seven worked closely to ensure that it would be one of them who would win the coveted cobble. But, with 15 kilometers to go, the race exploded again along the vicious cobbles of the Carrefour de l’Arbre.

In the space of 10 seconds, Degenkolb and van der Poel collided, the former hitting the ground. Meanwhile, van Aert attacked. It seemed like the opportune moment with his great rival tangled up, but within seconds van der Poel was on his wheel. By the time they exited the cobbles, the latter was at the front, marching away, as van Aert found himself hamstrung by the most ill-timed of punctures.

From there, van der Poel time trialled to the finish, his first victory in the Hell of the North, and the third Monument to his tally, having already won the Tour of Flanders twice and Milan-Sanremo. 

Behind him, Philipsen made sure of a 1-2 finish for his Belgian squad, edging out Van Aert in the sprint, while Pedersen came home for fourth place. 

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