Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Niki Terpstra soloed away from a hesitant and exhausted final group with 6km remaining in the race to win this year's Paris-Roubaix all alone. Terpstra was late to join the action at the front of the race, but when he did he found company with teammates Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar, plus a lot of isolated riders. When Terpstra attacked, the other favorites looked at each other until he had a serious gap, and from there confusion reigned supreme. Terpstra had more than enough to capitalize to win his first monument. Giant-Shimano's Jon Degenkolb, fist raised for a fine result, took what was left of a potentially epic velodrome sprint from Fabian Cancellara of Trek Factory Racing.
It was a day for failed attacks, until Terpstra got it done. An attack by Boonen with 64km remaining caused a small group to form ahead of the chasing peloton, containing Bram Tankink, Geraint Thomas, Yannick Martinez and Bert De Backer. Thor Hushovd joined them shortly thereafter, and the battle was joined. BMC, having missed out initially and chasing madly, saw its fortunes change thanks to Hushovd, who seemed to smile as he led the break across the cobbles of Mons-en-Pevele. Sep Vanmarcke broke away from the chase group on the Pont Thibault cobbles, joined by Cancellara and another eight or so strong men, and saw a counterattack by Peter Sagan, attempting to bridge up, after the cobbles. Boonen showed some impatience with the situation, jumping away alone with 35km remaining, for a few minutes. Sagan and Marten Wynants nearly closed them down, but ultimately the remnants of the peloton were all together again with 21km remaining... then split again, as Sagan took off alone. Finally at Camphin-en-Pevele Vanmarcke attached, drew Cancellara, Sybar and Degenkolb for company, and the race was on.
At Carredour de l'Arbe Boonen took off in pursuit, while the chasing quartet caught Sagan. Sky's former Tour winner Bradley Wiggins and Garmin's Sebastian Langeveld came along with Terpstra and several others, setting up the eleven-rider finale, with only Omega Pharma and Belkin having multiple cards to play. And in keeping with their reputation, play them they did. Terpstra roiled the action with his winning move at the 6km mark, and after a dangerous pause Geraint Thomas took up the chase. But an eight second lead became 12, then 15, and nobody emerged from the chasers with enough power to close the gap.
Terpstra's triumph marked the first victory by a Dutch rider in Paris-Roubaix since Servais Knaven's surprise escape -- again, largely from his own powerful Belgian team, Domo-Farm Frites, which then managed second and third as well. Tersptra's win, however, comes as no great surprise, after his powerful statement in Dwars door Vlaanderen, where he won alone ahead of a large chasing group 17 seconds behind.
1 TERPSTRA Niki Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 6:09:01
2 DEGENKOLB John Team Giant-Shimano 0:20
3 CANCELLARA Fabian Trek Factory Racing ,,
4 VANMARCKE Sep Belkin-Pro Cycling Team ,,
5 STYBAR Zdenek Omega Pharma – Quick-Step ,,
6 SAGAN Peter Cannondale ,,
7 THOMAS Geraint Team Sky ,,
8 LANGEVELD Sebastian Garmin Sharp ,,
9 WIGGINS Bradley Team Sky ,,
10 BOONEN Tom Omega Pharma – Quick-Step ,,
11 DE BACKER Bert Team Giant-Shimano 0:26
12 DéMARE Arnaud FDJ.fr 0:47
13 EISEL Bernhard Team Sky ,,
14 TURGOT Sébastien AG2R La Mondiale ,,
15 LEUKEMANS Bjorn Wanty – Groupe Gobert ,,
16 VANDENBERGH Stijn Omega Pharma – Quick-Step ,,
17 VAN AVERMAET Greg BMC Racing Team ,,
18 VAN EMDEN Jos Belkin-Pro Cycling Team ,,
19 HUSHOVD Thor BMC Racing Team 1:05
20 DRUCKER Jean-Pierre Wanty – Groupe Gobert