Van der Poel produces dominant performance to win Paris-Roubaix for 2nd straight year

Netherland's Mathieu van der Poel celebrates on the podium after winning the men's Paris Roubaix, a 260 kilometer (162 miles) one-day-race, at the velodrome in Roubaix, northern France, Sunday, April. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

ROUBAIX, France (AP) — Dutch cycling star Mathieu Van der Poel broke away with 37 miles remaining to win the Paris-Roubaix cycling classic for the second straight year with a dominant performance on Sunday.

With his archrival Wout van Aert recovering from multiple injuries sustained at the Dwars door Vlaanderen race in late March, Van der Poel dominated the grueling 260 kilometer (161-mile) trek from its start in Compiègne to Roubaix in northern France.

When he attacked with 60 kilometers to go, his rivals simply could not catch him in dry conditions which made the 29 cobblestone sections less treacherous.

Entering the Velodrome at Roubaix, the world road race champion was around three minutes clear and could milk the applause from the crowd.

“I could never of dreamed of this as a child. I’m a bit lost for words, really, but I’ll just try to enjoy this moment,” Van der Poel said. “My legs felt incredible today.”

He eased back on his bike and raised his arms slowly in the air as he crossed the line in 5 hours, 25 minutes, 58 seconds.

“It’s hard to believe actually, I was maybe even stronger than last year,” he said. “I had a really good day today.”

Belgian rider Jasper Philipsen — his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammate — was in second place after beating Dane Mads Pedersen in a sprint to the line. They were three minutes behind Van der Poel.

Paris-Roubaix is one of the five “monuments” in one-day cycling with the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour of Lombardy and Milan-San Remo. The 29-year-old Van der Poel has now won a total of six monuments overall but has yet to win Liège and Lombardy.

At the halfway point on Sunday, most of the favorites were still near Van der Poel. But British rider Josh Taring was ejected by the race jury, after getting a long pull from his Ineos Grenadiers team car to regain position following a puncture.

After Tom Pidcock dropped back, Pedersen tucked in behind Van der Poel as he continued leading a small group chasing the three frontrunners, among them Swiss classics specialist Stefan Küng.

The trio were caught by Van der Poel’s group with 66 kilometers remaining, and minutes later Van der Poel launched one of the spectacular attacks he has become known for.

It proved decisive.


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