Colbrelli Prevails in Three-Up Sprint
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) became the first Italian to claim victory in the Paris-Roubaix for 22 years after he persevered through awful conditions on his competition debut. It was the first Roubaix since April 2019 after the coronavirus pandemic halted proceedings last year.
Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) featured in a three-rider sprint coming into the Roubaix velodrome, but the 31-year-old, covered head-to-toe in mud, crossed the line in first position to claim the biggest win of his career.
Countless crashes marred the race with three-time world champion Peter Sagan coming off, and Swiss Stefan Kung going down three times. The 257 kilometre course, featuring 30 cobbled sections, was hit with ferocious rain throughout the course of the weekend which made for less than ideal conditions for the competitors. As they entered the final stretch it became increasingly difficult to identify who was actually leading the pack, with all the riders sporting a thick layer of mud.
Aside from the adverse weather conditions, the race itself remained a tense, unpredictable affair right up until the end. It long seemed as if Colbrelli’s fellow compatriot Gianni Moscon would take the title, with the Italian moving clear of the leading group with just under 50km to go. However, a puncture stopped the Ineos Grenadiers rider in his tracks agonisingly close to the finish and he was forced into a bike change with just under 30km to go, reducing his 1:25 advantage over pre-race favourite Mathieu Van Der Poel to just 45 seconds.
It then fell even shorter to 15 seconds after he crashed on a muddy patch, but the Italian stayed narrowly clear as Canada’s Guillaume Boivin crashed in the group of chasers in the cobbled sector of Camphin en Pevele.
He was, however, caught and dropped 16km from the finish in the Carrefour de l’Arbre as Colbrelli, Van der Poel and Vermeersch went clear to contest the final sprint.