Germany’s John Degenkolb picked up his second one-day classic of the season on Sunday after winning an eventful Paris-Roubaix marked by the peloton’s close brush with a high-speed train.
The 26-year-old German beat Czech Zdenek Stybar and Belgian Greg Van Avermaet in a sprint finish, just a month after winning another of cycling’s ‘Monument’ races, the Milan-San Remo.
Sunday’s win means Degenkolb is only the second rider to win in San Remo and Roubaix in the same year after Ireland’s Sean Kelly in 1986.
Degenkolb finished second last year in Roubaix and his rivals knew they had to drop him before reaching the velodrome.
Van Avermaet and fellow Belgian Yves Lampaert tried to do exactly that 11km from home, but the German chased them down alone before four more riders latched onto the leading trio with 3km left.
The seven arrived together in the velodrome and although Stybar tried to strike out for home early, there was an air of inevitability when Degenkolb easily breezed past him to win.
In his last race for Team Sky before refocussing on the track, reigning Olympic and world time-trial champion Bradley Wiggins finished in a group outside the top 10 but within a minute of the winner.
Last week’s Tour of Flanders winner Alexander Kristoff came 10th while the winner in Roubaix 12 months ago Niki Terpstra came home in the same group as Wiggins.
Brush with train
There was no shortage of drama earlier in the day when several riders had a near miss with a high-speed train after crossing a railway line once the barriers had come down.
One rider from the Belgian Lotto team was clipped by a barrier which came down as the peloton was passing.
Several riders decided to cross anyway before the train came, against race rules, before a policeman stopped the rest.
Once the train had passed they continued normally and rejoined the riders ahead, who had been slowed down by race organisers to wait for those delayed.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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