Belgian veteran Gilbert beats Politt to win Paris-Roubaix – Washington Post

Belgian veteran Gilbert beats Politt to win Paris-Roubaix - Washington Post
Paris-Roubaix 2019: Results
Phillipe Gilbert takes victory in fourth different monument, coming into the velodrome with Nils Politt and powerfully outsprinting the German.

Phillipe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) outsprinted Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) to win his first Paris-Roubaix after a fast, windy race, Sunday. His experience and strength allowed him to maneuver Politt into leading around the velodrome, and kicked past the German with 200 meters to go and win by several lengths.

A disconsolate Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) admitted that he was out of position when the winning group formed in Paris-Roubaix. The 2017 winner was left behind in a group of frustrated rivals and would eventually claim 12th place in the Roubaix velodrome, 47 seconds after Philippe Gilbert (Quickstep) had won his first Paris-Roubaix title.Related ArticlesVan Avermaet, Degenkolb and QuickStep prepare for Paris-Roubaix – GalleryVan Avermaet: I might not win a Classic this season but I have no regretsPhilippe Gilbert wins Paris-Roubaix

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Fellow Quick-Step man Yves Lampaert took third, having been pivotal in enabling Gilbert to split the final breakaway and shed dangermen Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First). Sagan came home in fourth. Having looked dangerous and aggressive through the race, his legs left him in the final 10km, still not looking quite his best following his Tirenno-Adriatico illness.

By the time the remnants of the field hit sector 12 at Auchy, Van Avermaet still had riders around him but he was too far back when Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) led a counter attack that included Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education FIrst), and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep). They caught Gilbert and Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), and within a few kilometres the six-rider move had established a winning margin that set the tone for the final kilometres.

“Its hard to believe it. Im happy,” said Gilbert, who was instrumental in drawing out the final selection.”Its really special. It was a really daring attack and it came off.”

Politt: Ill give it everything I have at Paris-Roubaix

The race was dry and battered by a strong northerly wind, which made the race that bit more intense as the bunch split and came back together several times in the first half of the race.

AG2R La Mondiale and Bahrain Merida were two squads that had the numbers to mount a chase but their efforts proved to be in vain as the gap to the Gilbert group remained intact. Van Avermaet would later rally with a vicious acceleration through the Carrefour de l’Arbre but by then his chances of winning were effectively over.

In the first three hours of racing, there were two large splits with key men at the front each time. However, the race was back together with 100 kilometers to go, at which point the key pavé sectors approached, with the infamous Trouee d’Arenberg falling first.

Video: Paris–Roubaix 2019 | EXTENDED HIGHLIGHTS | 4/14/19 | Cycling on NBC Sports

A run of bad luck for pre-race favorite Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) commenced through the five-star sector, as he mounted the grass and was dropped from the bunch. Once he was back on the pavement and chasing, he got a bike change, then immediately crashed, losing more time.

“It was a hard day and it wasn’t easy,” Van Avermaet said as he did up his jacket. “I wasn’t really awake when the six guys went and then my race was almost over.

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The decisive action kicked off with 65km to go. The attrition of the cobbles had reduced the front group to around 40 riders, with all the big hitters present save Van Aert, who was one minute back and chasing after his earlier misfortunes, Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates), who was around two minutes back, and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), who had abandoned.

Five talking points from the 2019 Paris-Roubaix

On cobbled sector number 14 – from Beuvry to Orchies – Politt attacked and drew out Gilbert, Rudiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Wesley Kreder (Wanty-Gobert), and they soon took 15 seconds on the reduced peloton. 15km later, Gilbert was the last of the quartet remaining and was the sole man out front of the race.

“I was waiting for Carrefour de l’Arbre to make the difference to try and make it to the front group but I wasn’t able to come close,” he said.  

Sagan led the chase to regroup with the Quick-Step man, bringing Politt, Van Aert, Vanmarcke, Lampaert, Christophe Laporte (Confidis-Solutions Credits) and Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ) with him. This group of eight led the race going into the five-star sector at Mons-en-Pevele.

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Behind, the peloton was rapidly losing ground and was soon 40 seconds back, with Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) looking anxious to chase. However, with Stybar stifling the momentum for Quick-Step, and Sebastien Langeveld (EF-Education First) doing the same for Vanmarke, he was unable to gain any time.

It had to happen today: Philippe Gilbert says Flanders disappointment drove him on to Paris-Roubaix victory

As the cobbled sectors came thick and fast, the group soon dropped to six, with just Gilbert, Lampaert, Van Aert, Vanmarcke, Sagan, and Politt remaining.

Paris-Roubaix is known as the Queen of the Classics because it is the most prestigious of the five, which are otherwise known as monuments of cycling. But the gruelling and dangerous 257km trek is also known as the Hell of the North because of its treacherous profile including more than 50km (31 miles) of cobblestones spread out over 29 sectors.

Philippe Gilbert wins Paris-Roubaix (+ video highlights)

With two Quick-Step riders in the move, the Belgian superteam again had the advantage, much as they have had through much of the classics season. They started playing their cards with 30km to go, with Gilbert accelerating off the front, with Sagan and Politt following. Lampaert slowed the chase for Vanmarcke and Van Aert. Once the Belgian champion had disrupted long enough to give the lead trio a clear gap, he set off in pursuit, dropping Van Aert, who was clearly fatigued from his chase after the Arenberg.

Gilbert and Lampaert worked their team advantage through the cobbles of the Carrefour de L’Arbre, taking turns to attack and wear down Sagan, Vanmarcke, and Politt.

Politt remained strong and attacked when the racing was back on the pavement, and Gilbert shadowed, and the pair built a gap. Behind, Sagan was clearly suffering, and Vanmarcke, riding a teammates bike, was struggling with a mechanical.

In the final 10km, it was clear the race would come down to Politt and Gilbert, and, safe in the knowledge he had Lampaert behind, the Belgian was able to let Politt do the majority of the work. The pair went into the velodrome together, and from thereon, it seemed all-but-certain that Gilbert’s vast experience would win out.

I still have this dream to win all of them. Little by little Im getting there, an elated Gilbert said afterwards. Politts very courageous. In the end the best rider won, and thankfully it was me.

“I still have this dream of winning all five monuments,” said Gilbert after the race, who has now won all the monuments except for Milano-Sanremo. “Its a bit of a crazy dream that has inspired me for ten years and little by little Im 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 werent for me. Ive won the Tour of Flanders and now Paris-Roubaix. I was able to transform my qualities as a puncheur. Now, Im a different rider and Im very happy to have done it. Im not afraid of long attacks.”

Belgiums Tiesj Benoot crashed into the back of a Jumbo-Visma team car near the end of Sundays race, smashing the back window completely. He was taken to hospital but his injuries were not immediately known.

Paris-Roubaix 2019 – full results and standings: Philippe Gilbert leads way on perfect day for Deceuninck-Quick Step

With his victory, Gilbert continues Quick-Step’s stranglehold on the classics, which began all the way back at the ‘opening weekend’ with Zdenek Stybar’s win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Gilbert strategically placed himself behind the 24-year-old Politt, and then attacked him down the left to win by about a length after nearly six hours of riding. The Belgian Yves Lampaert finished in third.

Between all the talk of the big Classics contenders, Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) has been quietly riding a solid campaign this spring. The German says that he is going to give it his all at Paris-Roubaix to try to end his spring on a high note. Related ArticlesPeloton prepares for dry and dusty Paris-Roubaix – GalleryParis-Roubaix 2019 Start ListParis-Roubaix preview – PodcastPolitt takes breakthrough second place at Paris-Roubaix

After Alberto Bettiol surprised the major favourites at the Tour of Flanders last week, Politts performances have put him on the radar as a dark horse for this weekends Roubaix.

Politt finished seventh at the race last year, leading home the second of the chasing groups behind Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), but the 25-year-old German has brushed off the expectations. 

“Of course, Ive seen a lot of it on social media already, but I dont see myself as a favourite,” Politt said at the Paris-Roubaix teams presentation in Compiègne, France, on Saturday.

Paris-Roubaix: Philippe Gilbert wins fourth monument title of career

“But I know that I can finish the race in the top 10, and so Ill just just go out there and fight with everything Ive got. Its the last cobbled Classic, so Ill give it my best and well see what happens.”

With Katusha-Alpecin having been struggling for results since the start of the season – with just one win, courtesy of Marcel Kittel at the Challenge Mallorca in February – Politt has been a shining light for the Swiss-registered team. Hes currently their best-placed rider in the UCI rankings, although the team is sitting down in 21st place.

His spring didnt start well with a disqualification for riding on the dirt track next to the road at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, but second in the Paris-Nice time trial in March was a good sign of form for Politt. Since then, hes gone on to finish sixth at the E3 BinckBank Classic and took fifth at the Tour of Flanders. 

“Ive already shown at the E3 and at Flanders that I can fight for the win or a podium, which is a big step forward since last year, and a really nice feeling,” explained Politt.

“So far, Im really happy with how my Classics have gone – especially my fifth place at Flanders last week. Im really looking forward to Sunday, and think that my shapes still good. I feel good, I feel well and I feel recovered, and will arrive at the race feeling stress-free.”

There might only be three British riders set to ride Paris-Roubaix this Sunday, but youd be mistaken for thinking the French race was happening in Britain, given all the talk about the weather over the last few days.

Its expected to be a dry and sunny day for the race, but the wind is expected to play its part. Politt believes that the wind factor is likely to lead to a bigger group than normal making it to the finish line at the velodrome in Roubaix on Sunday afternoon.

“As things stand, I think were set to have more of a headwind for the race, and so I think itll be a big group coming into the last three or four *****pavé sectors, and then, for sure, some riders will try to attack there.

“Id expect a group of almost 20 riders to get away,” Politt predicted. “Maybe three or four guys will get away initially, but I think that a bigger group will be coming.”

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