Deceuninck-Quick Step’s dominance of the 2019 Spring Classics continued on Sunday as cagey vet Philippe Gilbert won the 117th Paris-Roubaix to add the Hell of the North to his Il Lombardia, Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege titles. As in last year’s race, two riders sprinted it out in the Roubaix velodrome for glory. Katusha’s German Nils Politt showed his quality by taking the runner-up spot.

The Course

There were 52.8-km of pavé over 257.5-km, with the first set at Troisville at the 96.5-km mark. The hardest, five-star sections of cobbles were the 2.4-km Trouée d’Arenberg or Trench of Arenberg (Sector 19, km 162.5), the 3-km Mons-en-Pévèle (Sector 11, km 209) and the 2.1-km Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (Sector 4, km 240.5). The Trench was dead straight and often mossy. The Mons-en-Pévèle section was slightly downhill at the start. The Carrefour was close to the finish in the Roubaix velodrome and the place where decisive moves from a select group are often made. The Trench had the worst cobbles, but all three sections were an uneven, irregular ride.

It was a cool day with 20 km/h winds that changed from tail to cross to head.

Early Kilometres

It was difficult for fugitives to stay clear before Troisville, with a headwind not helping their endeavours. Finally, a nontet pulled away and entered the Troisville pavé with a 30-second gap. A chase group containing Matteo Trentin, Yves Lampaert and Pollit bridged over to make a platoon of 23 riders.

Before the Arenberg, the peloton lassoed the big move. Wout van Aert had to stop in the Trench because of a mechanical, made it back to the peloton just before Sector 18, but crashed and had to make up ground again. With 80-km to go, the cyclocross ace and Tiesj Benoot, also the victim of a crash, were a minute behind a group of 70 riders including all the other favourites.

Mons-en-Pévèle

With four riders having skipped away on Sector 16, Van Aert made it back to the leading group, having dropped many stragglers trying to match him. Canadian Hugo Houle was still in the front group.

Benoot was apparently involved in a crash with a Jumbo-Visma car and had to abandon.

Politt, Gilbert and a couple of others dashed away before Sector 14. Trek-Segafredo worked to bring them back.

The oddest abandon of the day was highly touted Taylor Phinney of EF Education First. He had a mechanical and then his team cars missed him standing by the road.

With the Politt-Gilbert move still up the road, Peter Sagan responded to a Van Aert surge. Sagan had a teammate drop back from Politt-Gilbert to help before Mons-en-Pévèle.

Gilbert pushed on alone with the Sagan-Van Aert chase still coming. The junction was made before the five-star sector, the peloton 22-seconds in arrears.

Van Aert’s pace dropped two riders from the group. Emerging from the storied sector with 44-km remaining were Lampaert and Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Politt, Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) with a lead of 35-seconds over the peloton.

Le Carrefour de l’Arbre

The sextet beat on, the peloton’s chase inhibited by disorganization and riders from the teams of the leaders sitting in. Coming out of Sector 6, Gilbert gassed it and Sagan and Politt covered. Van Aert finally popped after all that chasing. In the four-star Camphin-en-Pévèle sector Vanmarcke and Lampaert made it back.

On Le Carrefour de l’Arbre, Lampaert accelerated. Then Gilbert attacked, drawing Sagan. When Pllitt bounced away with 14-km to go, Sagan couldn’t match him but Gilbert could.

As the duo hit the final sector of cobbles, Lampaert was their closest chaser, with Sagan and Vanmarcke farther back.

In the sprint finale Gilbert had the better of the German this day, and joins eight other riders with at least four of the five Monuments on their palmares. Deceuninck-Quick Step had four riders in the top seven.

2019 Paris-Roubaix
1) Philippe Gilbert (Belgium/Deceuninck-Quick Step) 5:58:02
2) Nils Politt (Germany/Katusha) s.t.
3) Yves Lampaert (Belgium/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0:13

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