Van der Poel wins in Hell

Road 09/04/23 17:50 Migue A.

Although it is not always the case, in this 2023 edition Paris-Roubaix did justice by allowing the rider who bet the most on taking the race to win. Mathieu van der Poel thus closes an impressive spring by adding the cobblestone to the exhibition of less than a month ago in Milan-San Remo adding to his record one of the monuments he had yet to conquer.

An inopportune flat tyre spoils the duel between Van Aaert and Van der Poel in the velodrome

Paris-Roubaix didn't disappoint yet another year and the script of the race could almost be considered predictable, with the protagonists being where they should be and the race being selected where it was expected to happen. However, it is the details that make the difference and that ended up defending what is surely the most spectacular race on the calendar.

The race started with a fast pace and the usual breakaway attempts. However, today no one wanted to give up a single meter and none managed to consolidate thanks to the very high speed, more than 50 kilometers traveled in both the first and the second hour.

When everyone was getting ready for a crazy entrance to the first paved section, a small moment of respite brought a small four-man break, with Jonas Koch as the most notable name, to which no one paid too much attention because of the proximity of the cobblestones, knowing that a break with so few members, none of relevance, would end up falling under its own weight.

Very tense first sections, mainly due to the high pace that continued and the huge amount of riders that arrived together to this part of the race, so inevitably the crashes began to appear. Especially painful, was that of Peter Sagan in the second section of the day that would end with the Slovak's retirement in his last Paris-Roubaix, a race he won in 2018.

When all eyes were already set on the passage through the mythical Arenberg section, in the previous sector, Haveluy, it was Jumbo-Visma who tried to anticipate with a huge pace which was followed by Wout van Aert himself in first person and Christophe Laporte, Mathieu van der Poel, John Degenkolb, surprising the rest of the favorites, especially Pedersen or Philippo Ganna's INEOS-Grenadiers who had to chase to avoid the time bleeding.

The favorites could do so with less tension than ever as they rode in a reduced group, so there was no movement among them. Meanwhile, a pile-up at the entrance of the section in the peloton left out the defending winner Dylan Van Baarle and the leader of Soudal-QuickStep for today, Kasper Asgreen who did not get anything from the first section where he was already forced to chase after a puncture.

Taking advantage of the chaos, a motivated Mads Pedersen, who was not resigned to losing his chances so soon, came out of the peloton in search of the lead.

At the start of the section, more incidents, with the flat tyre of Christophe Laporte that left Wout van Aert without his main support, a situation that would worsen a few kilometers later when, first Mads Pedersen and then the group in which Filippo Ganna was riding, with Jasper Philipsen riding next to him, gave a clear advantage to the now called Alpecin-Elegant, after the change of sponsorship for today, promoting a new product of its second sponsor Deceuninck. That already had Gianni Vermeersch in the leading group.

The race entered a few minutes of relaxation, where there was even the possibility of Laporte, in the company of Nathan Van Hooydonck, returning to the race, an option that was definitely diluted with the arrival of the chained sections of Bersée and the Mons en Pévèle, of four and five stars of difficulty respectively.

Mathieu van der Poel tried to break the race in them, first at the exit of Bersée and then in the middle of the Mons in Pévèle with a really hard attack to which Wout van Aert responded with solvency, in a classics campaign in which he has not found his best version, knowing that his only trump card was the endurance and trying to play on the end of the race.

Van der Poel tried again at the exit of the section, on a slope on asphalt at the exit of the section, which was close to producing the unwanted cut, although finally the group was unified again.

Once again, the resolution of the race would be left to the Camphin en Pévèle and Carrefour de l'Arbre. The first of these two sectors would pass without movement, with the members of the group keeping an eye on each other and Jasper Philipsen, with incredible legs, setting the pace for his leader.

At the entrance of the Carrefour de l'Arbre, Philipsen was leading, keeping a hard pace. He tried to take off first, but had to slow down after going long in the first corner, and a few hundred meters ahead, the controversial moment of the day took place.

Just as Van der Poel launched his attack, Philipsen in the lead decided to open up to one side without seeing that his leader was coming like a missile and almost sent him to the ground. To avoid contact, Van der Poel gave a small lurch that sent to the ground a John Degenkolb who tried to hold on to the wheel of the Dutchman. Wout van Aaert took advantage of the chaos to launch his attack.

When it seemed that this would be the good move, Mathieu easily managed to close the gap to immediately move to the lead and put one more point that made Van Aert yield, just at the end of the section. At the exit to the asphalt we would discover that it was not a question of legs but a puncture at the most unexpected moment left us without the expected duel between the two leaders.

From here the race was clearly decided, with Mathieu van der Poel pedaling with more than 30 seconds ahead and no difficulties on the horizon as the remaining sections were very easy. Behind, once again unified, the members of the leading group, with the exception of the unfortunate Degenkolb, were already thinking about second place.

Wout van Aert had no choice but to fight for a privileged position, with an unexpected attack on a small hill at the entrance of Roubaix that broke the group, although he had an uncomfortable rival on his wheel, the very fast Jasper Philipsen.

Mathieu van der Poel achieved, with time to enjoy it, his desired cobblestone, 4th classic to his credit after his 2 Tour of Flanders and the Milan-San Remo he won a few weeks ago. He celebrated the first place at the finish line Philipsen who, together with Van Aert, still had a lap of the velodrome to launch a sprint in which the Alpecin-Elegant rider was unrivaled, Van Aert having to settle for the third step of the podium.

Great victory for Mathieu van der Poel in what is the fastest Paris-Roubaix in history after finishing with an average of 46.7 km/h, which improves the record set last year by Dylan van Baarle at 45.7 km/h.

Paris-Roubaix 2023 Classification

  1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Elegant) 5h28’41’’
  2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Elegant) +46’’
  3. Wout vaan Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +46’’
  4. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) +50’’
  5. Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) +50’’
  6. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) +50’’
  7. John Degenkolb (Team DSM) +2’35’’
  8. Max Walscheid (Cofidis) +3’31’’
  9. Laurenz Rex (Intermaché-Circus-Wanty) +3’35’’
  10. Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) +4’11’’



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Van der Poel gana en el Infierno