- Jan 3, 2005
German John Degenkolb of Giant-Alpecin won Paris-Roubaix Sunday with a courageous late-race move to bridge across to three leaders, followed by a brilliant finishing sprint from a group of seven riders.
Degenkolb won the sprint in the Roubaix velodrome ahead of Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
It was the first Roubaix victory for Degenkolb, who won the bunch sprint in 2014 to finish second behind solo winner Niki Terpstra, banging his handlebar in frustration over what could have been.
In 2015, the popular German strongman turned that frustration into victory, winning the race with a combination of guile, power, speed, and team depth.
Early on, Degenkolb followed key moves, making it into critical echelons when the course turned into crosswinds. Late in the race, after the front group had successfully navigated the final five-star section of cobbles, the Carrefour de l’Arbre, Degenkolb used his teammate, Bert De Backer, to bridge across to two leaders, Yves Lampaert (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Van Avermaet.
With Stybar in the first chase group, Lampaert refused to pull through, however, forcing Degenkolb to drag the group along. The situation grew even more stressful when Stybar finally bridged across to make a dangerous four-man lead group with 6km remaining.
However three more riders — Lars Boom (Astana), Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), and Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) — closed that gap inside the final 2km as the race entered the velodrome. After 253km of racing, seven tired riders would sprint for the cobblestone trophy.
Lampaert went to the front to lead out Stybar, with Degenkolb sitting third wheel. But the Belgian rider faded quickly, leaving Stybar out front with 300 meters to go. Once Degenkolb launched his lethal finishing sprint, the race quickly became a battle for second place.
“This win tops everything,” Degenkolb said. “This is the race I’ve always dreamed to win. It’s unbelievable. I can’t believe it. I had to work very hard for it. The team was all day there to hold the situation under control. We knew it was going to be hard, and when it looks like a big group will go to the finish, I was in a situation where I had to go — otherwise it would be the same situation as last year. I had to invest. I was not afraid to fail, and that was the key.”
With the win, Degenkolb, who also won Milano-Sanremo three weeks earlier, became only the second German to win the “Queen of the Classics,” 119 years after Joesf Fischer won the inaugural edition.
Degenkolb became only the third rider to win Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix in the same season; the last man was Sean Kelly, in 1986.
Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff, winner of the Tour of Flanders last weekend, and Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, finished 10th, 31 seconds off the winning time. Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, in the final road race of his career, finished 18th, in the same group as Kristoff.
Check back for a full race report, results, quotes, photos, and more from the 113th Paris-Roubaix.
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