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Paris-Roubaix: Van der Poel fabulous, Küng obstinate, the French too discreet… Our favorites and favorites

Special correspondent in Roubaix.

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Paris-Roubaix: Van der Poel fabulous, Küng obstinate, the French too discreet… Our favorites and favorites

Special correspondent in Roubaix


The Dutchman (29 years old) only has 5 days of racing in 2024 but he misses his target. He won, after masterful solo escapes, the E3 Saxo Classic, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix (finished 10th in Milan-San Remo, after helping the designs of Jasper Philipsen, his teammate, and 2nd in Ghent- Wevelgem). Hard to beat. At 29 years old, with 6 “Monuments” to his name (Tour of Flanders 2020, 2022, 2024; Paris-Roubaix 2023, 2024; Milan-San Remo 2023), the grandson of Raymond Poulidor is at the top of his art. His day, all in control, right up to his lightning attack, his strength and endurance found an ideal playing field on the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix. With 60 km of solo breakaway, he recalled the successes over the last thirty years (62 km for Andrei Tchmil in 1994, 55 km for Tom Boonen in 2012, 50 km for Fabian Cancellara in 2010). The Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège await him. Before new challenges, like the Olympics.

The Swiss achieved a meritorious 5th place. His third Top 5 in Roubaix (3rd in 2022, 5th in 2023). The leader of the Groupama-FDJ team lived up to his desires and the meeting. In his wake, New Zealander Laurence Pithie, who discovered “the Hell of the North”, took a promising 7th place. At the end of a trying day marked by a heavy fall. Leaning against a barrier, the young runner (21 years old) took many minutes to sort out his thoughts and emotions after an unforgettable day. The Queen of Classics remains an objective in the training of manager Marc Madiot, double winner of the event (1985, 1991) and of sports director Frédéric Guesdon, the last French winner of the “Queen of Classics” in 1997.

Mathieu Van der Poel had left the ceremonial podium for many minutes when the brave peloton finished its special day. Welcomed with the same fervor. That which imposes the respect due to those who honor a unique race with its roots in the history of a region. The Australian Kelland O'Brien (Team Jayco Alula), who was experiencing his second Paris-Roubaix, will have seen the velodrome this time. 110th and last ranked runner. 25'53'' behind Mathieu Van der Poel. At the end of a crazy day.


The tricolor runners advanced without much ambition. In the absence of Arnaud Démare, hopes rested in particular on Christophe Laporte. The European champion (Team Visma Lease a bike), victim of a puncture in the first cobbled sector, spent his day chasing lost time. The first Frenchman in Roubaix, he finished in 25th place, more than 6 minutes behind Mathieu Van der Poel. Pierre Gautherat (Décathlon-AG2R la Mondiale), one of the stars of the Savoyard team, was also unlucky before the first cobbled sector. It is then impossible to hope to catch up in a race led at breakneck speed by the Alpecin-Deceuninck team. He finished 57th at 9'34''.

60 km from the finish, Mathieu Van der Poel took off. No one could catch his wheel. He offered his back. Then a gap that continued to widen. And a growing memory. That of implacable domination. But behind, Mads Pedersen, Nils Politt and Co., out of breath, gave up very quickly. Overwhelmed, resigned, they were not able to instill a little doubt in the mind of the one who, projected alone in the lead, could have wondered whether to insist or to side down. The race of attrition imposed by Alpecin-Deceuninck had won their will. They still had to compete for the places of honor… behind the Alpecin-Deceuninck duo (Van der Poel ahead of Jasper Philipsen, as in 2023). Mads Pedersen snatched the last place on the podium.

Without Wout van Aert (injured), Mathieu Van der Poel had free rein. And the Dutchman took advantage of it. Two solitary escapes concluded two days dominated head and shoulders during the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. We can salute the performances and regret the lack of suspense which concludes Les Flandriennes. Mathieu Van der Poel and Alpecin-Deceuninck were simply too strong and their rivals too helpless to hope to compete. Mathieu Van der Poel has not said his last word. The Amstel Gold Race (April 14) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 21) could offer him new opportunities to shine…

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