Philippe Gilbert has won Paris-Roubaix, making Milan-San Remo the only one of cycling’s five Monuments that the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider has yet to win.
The 36-year-old, who repeatedly attacked during today’s 257-kilometre race from Compiegne, came off the wheel of Katusha’s Nils Politt on the final bend of the Roubaix velodrome to clinch the 117th edition of the race nicknamed the Queen of the Classics, as well as the Hell of the North.
The pair had got away from three other riders in the leading group – Gilbert’s team mate Yves Lampaert, who would finish third, EF Education First’s Sep Vanmarcke and defending champion Peter Sagan – after Politt launched an attack with 14 kilometres remaining, only the eventual winner able to bridge across.
Jumbo-Visla rider Wout van Aert had also been in the front group, but was dropped with 18 kilometres still to ride, tiring after he, Vanmarcke and Lampaert had managed to rejoin Gilbert, Politt and Sagan, who had opened up a small gap.
The six-man group formed with 49 kilometres to go after a solo attack launched by Gilbert a couple of kilometres earlier had been reeled in.
Victory today sees Gilbert join an elite club of only eight riders to have won at least four of the five Monuments – his best finish in the one he is missing, Milan-San Remo, is third place, which he achieved in both 2008 and 2011.
His previous wins in cycling’s big five one-day races came at il Lombardia in 2009 and 2010, Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2011, and the Tour of Flanders in 2017. He also won the road world championships in 2012.
Only three cyclists, all Belgian, have won all five Monuments – Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck and Rik van Looy.
"I still have this dream to win all of them," Gilbert said after his win. Little by little I'm getting there.
"Politt's very courageous. In the end the best rider won, and thankfully it was me," he continued.
"I've always wanted to win all the Monuments, and I'm getting closer now."
One of the big talking points from today’s race will be the crash that forced Lotto-Soudal’s Tiesj Benoot to abandon with a little more than 70 kilometres remaining, reportedly after a collision involving the Jumbo-Visla team car, with the incident bound to see renewed focus on rider safety.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.