Fab ride by Cancellara brings Paris-Roubaix win
SWISS star Fabian Cancellara followed up last weekend's Tour of Flanders victory by demolishing the field to take the season's greatest spring classic, the Paris-Roubaix.
The world time-trial champion was with a select leading group about 45km from the finish of the race when he launched an unstoppable assault, catching his big rival, Belgian Tom Boonen, napping slightly at the back of the breakaway.
Cancellara ripped away and at the 40km mark had opened a gap of 50 seconds on a group which included Boonen, Britain's Roger Hammond, Italian champion Fillippo Pozzato, Thor Hushovd and Juan Antonio Flecha.
By the time he reached 28km to go the gap was around two minutes and the others were left to fight it out for second place. The Saxo Bank rider at one point was three minutes clear but Flecha and Hushovd worked hard to pull him back slightly; in the end the pair came into the famous Roubaix velodrome to contest the sprint for second, which the Norwegian claimed comfortably.
But there was no doubting the class of the champion, currently the form rider in the world and a man emerging as one of the great classics competitors.
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No-one could match his perfectly-timed attack and it appeared that after his showing the previous Sunday in Flanders no-one was prepared to take him on as he powered across the flat landscape of northern France like a TGV express on his way to his second Paris-Roubaix title.
The conditions for the 260km race, regarded as the toughest of the one-day races, were dry but windy and the peloton kicked up the dust on the infamous cobbles. There were plenty of fallers and punctures as the rough surfaces battered men and machine.
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There was good news for fans of British rider Roger Hammond, who improved on his seventh place last weekend by coming fourth in France.
The Cervelo man had fought hard in the leading group with the big names and outsprinted Boonen on the track to complete a great day's work.
1 Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), 2 Thor Hushovd (Cervelo), 3 Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), 4 Roger Hammond (Cervelo), 5 Tom Boonen (Quick Step).