O'Grady Wins Paris-Roubaix
For the second consecutive year, CSC has won Paris-Roubaix. Last year, Fabian Cancellara won the Hell of the North. Today, Stuart O?Grady turned the trick. With about 25 km remaining, the Australian surged away from a group containing defending champion Cancellara and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) to win the Queen of the Classics in 6:09:07. Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) outsprinted Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof) for second at 0:52.
From the beginning, the riders were feisty in the unusually warm (23 degrees Celsius), fair conditions. Anthony Ravard (Agritubel) made a very early attack, and Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval) joined. The bunch reeled the pair in by five km. After a couple of additional sallies, more than 30 riders rolled off of the front at about 30 km.
The break included O?Grady, Matti Breschel, and Luke Roberts (CSC); Matteo Tosatto and Kevin Van Impe (Quick Step); Enrico Franzoi (Lampre); Bram De Groot (Rabobank); Ludovic Auger (Francaise des Jeux); Bert Grabsch, Roger Hammond, and Andreas Klier (T-Mobile); Tom Steels and Greg Van Avermaet (Predictor); Tristan Valentin (Cofidis); Ralf Grabsch (Milram); Fabien Bacquet, Clement Lhotellerie, and Floris Goesinen (Skil); Erki Putsep (Bouygues Telecom); Volodymyr Bileka (Discovery Channel); Roberto Petito and Frederik Willems (Liquigas); Nicolas Portal and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d?Epargne); Thomas Fothen, David Kopp, and Thomas Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner); Julian Dean (Credit Agricole); Stephane Poulhies and Nicolas Rousseau (Ag2r); Iban Irinondo (Euskaltel); and Artur Gajek and Olaf Pollack (Wiesenhof). The fugitives quickly banged out a 2:00 lead and led the field by 4:00 at 85 km and 4:30 at 132 km. By the latter distance, the riders had covered four of the day?s 28 stretches of pave.
Ralf Grabsch surged into the lead on the seventh sector, and Klier was dropped on the eighth. The field entered the
In the 12th sector of pave (Wallers), the peloton overtook Grabsch, and Kopp countered. Van Impe and Pollack joined him. Behind, Flecha, Petito (Liquigas), Lars Michaelsen and Breschel (both from CSC), Bjorn Leukemans (Predictor), Grabsch (Milram), and Enrico Franzoi (Lampre) formed. When Pollack was dropped from the lead group, he joined the chasers. This group led the group containing Boonen, Cancellara, and the other favorites by about 1:00.
With 34 km left, Wesemann attacked from the second chase group. Hammond and O?Grady joined the German, and Leif Hoste (Quick Step) tried to tow Boonen to the first group. When O?Grady and Wesemann reached the two leaders, the Australian attacked.
On the 24th and 25th sectors of pave?the Camphin-en-Pevele and the Carrefour de l?Arbre, respectively?O?Grady extended his lead. He led Flecha?s group by nearly 1:00 at the end of the latter sector. Boonen left the remainder of his group behind to pursue O?Grady, but the Australian would not be caught.
With seven km left, O?Grady led Flecha?s group by 1:00. He entered the
Today?s ride was a landmark one. Aside from being the first Paris-Roubaix win for a
Not all of the landmarks were happy. Today?s race was the final professional one for Lars Michaelsen, O?Grady?s teammate. The Dane worked hard for defending champion Cancellara and O?Grady and was one of the first to greet O?Grady after the race. Michaelsen was a hard-working classics specialist whom CSC will miss?but not much. He will take a job with Riis Cycling, so expect him to continue contributing to CSC.
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