Backstedt Wins Paris-Roubaix
Magnus Backstedt (Alessio) has won Paris-Roubaix. The Swede won a four-up sprint to take the 261-km Queen of the Classics, Round 3 of the World Cup, in 6:40:26. Tristan Hoffman (CSC) finished second, and Roger Hammond (Mr. Bookmaker) took third. Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile), who finished 16th, has taken the lead in the World Cup.
After a series of abortive sallies, Salvatore Commesso and Giosue Bonomi (both from Saeco), Guillaume Auger (RAGT-Semences), Michael Albasini (Phonak), and Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) escaped. By the time the five reached the first section of pave at Troisvilles (99.8 km), they led the field by about 5:00. Quick Step began to chase, however, and by 116 km, the lead had shrunk to 3:00.
By 140 km, Commesso was the last member of the break who was still in the lead. Geert Van Bondt (Landbouwkrediet) had joined him, and the pair forged ahead for 20 more km until the bunch reeled them in at the approach to the Arenberg Forest.
Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile) led the field out of the Arenberg Forest, and Lotto and Quick Step paced the peloton behind him. Twenty riders, including all of the favorites, formed a chase group that absorbed the German.
With about 75 km left, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) paced the group. Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r) countered and forged a 30-second lead. With 51 km left, however, Johan Museeuw (Quick Step) attacked from the chase group. Museeuw's move created an acceleration that brought back the Estonian within three km.
With 23 km remaining, Boonen attacked. Hincapie and Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) joined him. The three carved out a 17-second lead on the peloton, which T-Mobile led. Leif Hoste (Lotto) recovered from getting a flag in his rear wheel and bridged up to the leaders. T-Mobile, however, towed the bunch to the break.
After the lead group moved through Le Carrefour de l'Arbre, the last difficult section of pave, Museeuw attacked. Hincapie was dropped. Backstedt, Hammond, Museeuw, Hoffman, and Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) led the race with 13 km left. With seven km remaining, the quintet had 0:30 on the nearest chase group.
Museeuw punctured with six km left. His four companions kept their 30-second lead and took it into the Roubaix velodrome.
Cancellara led the quartet into the velodrome. He attempted to accelerate away from his companions, but they were having none of it. Hammond attacked on the banking, but Backstedt passed on the inside to win.
In the World Cup, Wesemann got 10 points for 16th place and leads the competition with 110 points. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) did not ride Paris-Roubaix and remains in second with 103 points. Backstedt got 100 points for his victory and is in third place with as many points.
Next week, many of these riders will compete in the Amstel Gold Race. Who will prevail? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!