Philippe Gilbert grinds down the opposition to win the 117th Paris-Roubaix
Deceuninck-Quick Step rider out sprinted Nils Politt (Katusha Alpecin) on the hollowed boards at the André-Pétrieux Vélodrome after 257 kms
The 117th edition of Paris-Roubaix was another brutal edition, only 6C with a 17 kph headwind most of the way and it was also one of the fastest in memory.
So fast that a breakaway struggled to get away and it wasn't until 85 kms just before the first section of pave that a group of 10 riders established the breakaway.
Behind the peloton panic'd, as a dangerous chasing group of 17 riders featuring Matteo Trentin, Yves Lampaert, Nils Politt and Stefan Kung were between the break and the peloton as they approached Troisvilles.
The chase caught the breakaway to form a 23 rider lead group before sector 27. Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) all had teammates in this front group, which put the onus on teams like Sky and Bahrain-Merida to lead the chase.
Taco van der Hoorn from Jumbo-Visma was the first to hit the deck hard and abandon the race.
With around 130 kms to go, a crash in the peloton saw a number of riders come down. Peter Sagan was among those briefly held up by the incident, but he is paced back by his brother Juraj. It was a significantly reduced peloton after these early skirmishes on the cobbles.
With 120 kms to go the breakaway was caught, meanwhile Daniel Oss from Bora-hansgrohe hit the desk but was back up quickly.
As they came off sector 21, there seemed to be only 50 or so riders left at the head of the race, with 113 kms remaining.
The next crash stunned viewers as Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck-Quick Step) rode straight into a traffic sign in the middle of the road, he was seen reeling in pain as medics rushed to his aid quickly.
It was here that Kristoff found himself in a group off the back which quickly lost over 2 minutes after puncturing.
With 95 kms to go the favorites including Sagan and Greg van Avermaet came to the front, for the infamous Trouée d'Arenberg sector.
Big favorite Wout van Aert was seen hanging off the back of the main peloton, who battled through the cars to get back on, only to have to stop for a bike change, crash on new tyres and have to fight back through the cars for a second time.
In unbelievable scenes, it wasn't until 72 kms to go, he managed to bridge back up the front of the race.
Next to crash was Teisj Benoot who abandoned, after colliding with a Jumbo-Visma team car going through the back window as it braked as he was moving up through the team cars.
The race hotted up as Nils Politt (Team Katusha Alpecin and 7th in Roubaix in 2018) and Philippe Gilbert came to the front through the final feed station with around 63 kms to go, with Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe) they were 18 secs ahead of the bunch with 57 km to go.
With 53 km to go, Peter Sagan and Wout Van Aert made a winning move to chase down Gilbert whose lead was nearing 30 secs, dropping van Avermeat, Degenkolb whose race was effectively over.
As the breakaway left sector 11, it was Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First), Nils Politt (Katusha Alpecin), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) left to battle it out for the finale.
With 25 kms to go, Gilbert attacked and Sagan chased with Vanmarcke, leaving Van Aert and Lampaert trailing.
Van Aert was the first to pop, Gilbert attacked again taking Nils Politt with him, behind Peter Sagan, Sep Vanmarcke chased with Yves Lampaert following.
With 5 kms Lampaert then attacked to try to bridge up to Gilbert and Politt, with Sagan and Vanmarcke unable to respond.
But it was Gilbert and Politt who entered the Velodrome, with Gilbert coming round Politt on the final lap as teammate Lampaert finished 3rd.
Philippe Gilbert winning his 4th momument who said "It’s hard to believe it. I’m happy. I still have this dream of winning all five monuments. It’s a bit of a crazy dream that has inspired me for ten years and little by little I’m getting closer to it. I feel great pride today. When I decided to take on this challenge three years ago, many people told me the cobbles weren’t for me. I’ve won the Tour of Flanders and now Paris-Roubaix. I was able to transform my qualities as a puncheur. Now, I’m a different rider and I’m very happy to have done it. I’m not afraid of long attacks. They’ve often worked out in my favour. I got down to work with Politt who is also quite a brave rider. It was ideal to be in his company. In the finale, we rode flat out together, and in the end, it came down to who was the strongest – and that was me."
VIDEO: 2019 Paris-Roubaix Highlights
2019 Paris-Roubaix Top 10
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step 5:58:02
2 Nils Politt (Ger) Team Katusha-Alpecin
3 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step 0:00:13
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First 0:00:40
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:42
6 Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick Step 0:00:47
7 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
8 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-Quick Step
9 Edvaldas Siskevicius (Lit) Delko Marseille Provence
10 Stefan Kung (Swi) Groupama-FDJ