Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has become the first reigning world champion to win Paris-Roubaix since Bernard Hinault in 1981.
Sagan made history after winning a two-man sprint on the legendary Roubaix velodrome against Swiss national champion Silvan Dillier of AG2R-La Mondiale.
In a bold and epic move, Sagan countered successive initiatives of hot favourites Quick Step Floors going off the front with 54km to go.
Aussie Brenton Jones Spends Time In Lead Group
Following a vain attack by Wang Meiyin, Australian rider Brenton Jones (Delko Marseille), Dries De Bondt (Willems-Crelan), Alexandre Pichot (Direct Energie) and Johan van Zyl (Dimension Data) went clear at km 17 but the peloton reacted. Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Samsic) counter-attacked but a solo move was mission impossible.
Quick Step Dictate Race Rhythm
The deficit of the bunch was seven minutes when riders hit the first cobbled section at Troisvilles (km 93.5) after the nine leaders got a maximum advantage of 8.50. A crash split the peloton in three parts with defending champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) being caught in the last part.
At the exit of the trench, the front group was split in two with Dillier, Bystrom, Wallays, Robeet and Soler at the front while Mike Teunissen (Sunweb) and Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step Floors) rode away from the peloton before being reinforced by Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin).
Sagan in action with 55km to go
With 75km to go, all the favourites were reunited with a deficit of one minute from the five remaining leading riders. Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step Floors) relayed Gilbert on the offensive in between the five leading riders and the peloton. Stybar caught Soler who couldn’t hold the pace of his former breakaway companions. As he also caught Robeet, he gave up the chase with 60km to go. Van Avermaet launched the battle of the giants with 55km to go.
Sagan countered and rode away solo hitting the front of the race with 51km to go. 40km before the end, Sagan, Dillier and Wallays had 35 seconds lead over a small group led by Niki Terpstra.
Sagan beats Dillier on the velodrome
With 25km to go, the leading trio had an advantage of 45 seconds. It went up to 1.25 as Wallays lost contact and left the lone Dillier as an early breakaway member along with Sagan at the front. The Triple World Champion tried to go solo on the cobblestone sections of Carrefour de l’Arbre and Hem but the Swiss Champion stayed with him.
The duo were never threatened by the chasing group from which Terpstra exited to round out the podium behind Sagan who was logically faster than Dillier in the sprint on the velodrome of Roubaix.