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France, April 15, 2001
Complete Live Report
Start time: 11.00 CET
10.30 CET - Preview
Welcome to cyclingnews.com's live coverage of the 99th Paris-Roubaix, the third round of the UCI World Cup. cyclingnews' correspondents Jeff Jones and Tim Maloney report that the weather this morning in Compiegne is about 10 degrees - not too cold - but raining steadily. "It's pouring all the way to Roubaix," Maloney reported.
With the generous layer of mud left on some sections of cobbles from the floods, the riders are in for a very slippery day. Indeed, it looks like we're set for a classic edition of this wonderful race.
Given those conditions, it's worth noting that pre-race favourite Johan Museeuw (Domo) will have three bikes for the race, at least one of which has a Clement cyclo-cross tyre on his rear wheel. Somehow we think he's going to need it.
Whether it's the possibility of carnage or riders having second thoughts, there's a few late scratchings this morning: Fassa Bortolo and Bonjour will start with only six riders, while Saeco, Liquigas and Tacconi will have seven.
11.00 CET - Start Compiegne
The 193 riders in the 99th Paris-Roubaix have rolled out of Compiegne in the rain and are heading north to Roubaix, where the latest weather report says that the storm front which blew in last night is beginning to clear. Some 59km to the north in St Quentin the rain has stopped. However, the entire parcours has been subject to overnight rain.
Although the cobbles have been deemed safe, the recent downpour has flooded the roadsides, meaning riders will have to stick to the middle of the road where they are likely to get a bumpier ride.
Euskatel rider Igor Flores broke away from the peloton after two kilometres.
At least there's a slight tailwind for the riders, as they settle in to the rainy conditions. The bunch is travelling at nearly 50kmh and quickly catch Flores.
11.31 CET - 14km, Ribecourt
The Fassa Bortolo team leaves with six riders, as Italians Alessandro Petacchi and Matteo Tosatto did not start, and they were not replaced by reserves Marco Fincato or Luca Mazzanti. It's not known why the Italian team of Fabio Baldato is down to six riders, but it would appear their boss is nothing if not sympathetic to concerns of crashing. Yesterday, team boss Giancarlo Ferreti said "The race is beautiful, but every time it makes my heart race. I am afraid for my riders."
Ferretti also claimed he was not bringing his riders just to make up the Paris-Roubaix numbers."I am not like Coubertin, it is not in my character to come to a race just to take part. Also, in the professional world, it is very important to do something. I always come to Paris-Roubaix, even when I don't have specialist riders. From time to time, the riders make good."
In today's news there are other more comments from the Fassa boss, as well as sentimental favourite Franco Ballerini (Mapei).
Australian Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) has punctured and has a hard chase to get back on due to the speed of the bunch. An attack by Daniele Contrini (Liguigas) and Christophe Agnolutto (AG2R Prevoyance) ends for Contrini when he punctures, but the Frenchman maintains a 10 second lead over the peloton.
Paris-Roubaix remains is one of the races where riders from English-speaking countries feature rarely in the winner's list, with Sean Kelly's wins in 1984 and 1986 being the exceptions, and Englishman Barry Hoban's third place in 1972 and of course, Canadian Steve Bauer's close second place in 1990 to Eddy Planckaert (Bel).
cyclingnews spoke with young Australia rider Matthew Hayman (Rabobank), winner of this year's Tour of Majorca and competing in his second Paris-Roubaix after finishing last year in 65th place, some 19.30 behind winner Johan Museeuw. The Australian "feeling good" for his second P-R and realised the key to the race was to "stay up in the field and just keep moving up as much as you can" to reserve a good position for the first section of cobbles at Troisvilles, some 98km into the race.
12.25 - 58km, entrance to St Quentin
A group of six have a 1.50 lead on the peloton as they headed into St Quentin, including Agnolutto, Dutchman Steven De Jongh (Rabobank), French rider Stephane Berges (AG2R) and three others.
The first 98km of the race is rolling farm country before they hit the first section of pavé at Troisvilles, which runs for 2200 metres.
The attack keeps its lead but it's certain to be challenged as the peloton approaches Troisville.
Before the start this morning, some 42 riders were tested between 6.40 and 7.50am, and to organiser's relief, all results were negative.
The peloton is maintaining tempo and it was revealed on the start line that Belgian rider - and main hope for Mercury-Viatel - Peter Van Petegem rolled up to the line with an injured back. At first he didn't plan to start and said "when it (my back) goes, I will stop".
13.00 - 86km
The leading bunch of six has a 5.30 lead over the field, as many of the main teams are going to back to team cars to shed extra clothes, given the rain has stopped and the sealed roads are drying out.
The cobbles, however, are a different story. Jeff Jones reports that the condition on the early sections of the cobbles on the parcours are "absolutely shocking. Very muddy, very slippery and large puddles which are unlikely to dry out".
For many, the 2001 event is shaping up as a battle between Mapei-Quick Step (which has won four times since 1996) and new Belgian outfit Domo, the team of Johan Museeuw. However, the difference this year is that Mapei is without team boss Patrick Lefevre, who said "In Paris-Roubaix, it's vital to outnumber other teams". He believes that his new team has the firepower, with current World Champion Roman Vainsteins, Wilfried Peeters and Max Van Heeswijk riding with last year's winner Museeuw.
13.10 - 93km
The six breakways have 5.45 on the bunch as they approach the first section of pavé. The six include Christophe Agnolutto (AG2R Prevoyance), Steven De Jongh (Rabobank), Stephane Berges (AG2R), Sylvain Chavanel (Bonjour), Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole) and another Frenchman, Florent Brard (Festina).
13.20 - 98km
Agnolutto flatted as they hit the first section of cobbles and needed a change, and the weather is still unsettled with light rain at Troisville. The leaders had 4.30 on the main bunch and after a quick change, the Frenchman was heading back up to the leading five.
13.24 - 98km
The peloton has hit the first section of cobbles with Philippe Gaumont from Cofidis leading the bunch in a big gear and churning his way throught he mud. They hit the section 3.44 behind the six breakaways, and Voigt has taacked the lead bunch and is pulling away.
Agnolutto has dropped behind by 52 seconds and there are now five leaders, as the other four caught Voigt.
13.30 - 100km
The main peloton has left the first section of cobbles and the riders are now totally covered in mud, and were even cornering cautiously due to the muddy conditions - fast cornering is impossible. A group of six emerged about 200 metres in front of the main field, including Gaumont, Servais Knaven, Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre), Romans Vainteins (Domo), Franco Ballerini (Mapei) and Leon van Bon (Mercury).
13.37 - 110km
There is now a group of nine chasing the five leaders. Vainsteins dropped back and has been replaced by team-mate Wilfried Peeters, while cyclo-cross star Sven Nijs (Rabobank) has bridged, as did Frank Hoj (Coast) and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom). They have 30 seconds on the peloton, which has broken into four large groups. The group of nine follows our five leaders by 2.40.
13.40 - 110km
Crash in the peloton! Ten riders are down and slide into the grass. Most remount and continue on.
13.45 - 113km
Dierckxsens and Wesemann are riding strongly at the front of the chasing bunch of nine. Brard has fallen in the first group of five and may have lost his place in the breakaways.
13.47 - 115km
As the lead group approaches the first feed zone they have 2.15 on the chasing nine which includes some of the favourites such as Wesemann, Ballerini and Peeters, while poor Florent Brard (Festina) who crashed in the cobbles, is in no-man's land and has lost his position in the lead group.
13.50 - 115km
Johan Museeuw (Domo) and George Hincapie (US Postal Service) have bridged to the chasing group of nine. Nearly all the favourites are in this group, except Lotto's Andre Tchmil.
Yesterday, Hincapie told cyclingnews: "I feel good (after winning Gent-Wevelgem); you need a lot of luck for a race like tomorrow, especially that the conditions on the cobblestones are right. But I am confident of my condition. It'll be important to dress warm because it will be cold at the start of the race so you can keep as much energy for the later stages of the race."
14.10 - 128km
At the start of the cobbles at De Saulzoir the breakaway group of four have a 1.10 lead on the main chasing group, which has now swelled to 19 riders, including members of Lotto but no Tchmil. There is another group of 10 riders a further 1.45 behind, then a group of 30 at three minutes.
Just to re-cap, the leading group of four includes Steven De Jongh (Rabobank), Stephane Berges (AG2R), Sylvain Chavanel (Bonjour), Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole). In the chasing group of 19 at 1.10 behind is a group of 19 including the main favourites, except Andre Tchmil (Lotto).
This group includes Johan Museeuw (Domo), George Hincapie (US Postal Service), Philippe Gaumont (Cofidis), Servais Knaven (Domo), Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre), Franco Ballerini (Mapei), Leon van Bon (Mercury), Wilfried Peeters (Domo), cyclo-cross star Sven Nijs (Rabobank), Frank Hoj (Coast) and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom). Lefevre's team has the numbers - just like the Mapei days.
14.37 - 144km
After another 16km, there have been some major changes in the race as the favourites chased down the breakaways. At Des Haspres, Vainsteins and Museeuw were leading a group of 15, followed by seven at 55 seconds behind with Tafi on the front, then a group of 25 including Tchmil at 1.37, then another group containing Erik Zabel are 2.30 behind.
Domo means dominance: the main group of 15 includes Museeuw, Servais Knaven, Wilfried Peeters, Romans Vainsteins - all from Domo. Other riders in this lead bunch includes Sven Nijs, Nico Mattan, Philippe Gaumont, Steffen Wesemann, George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, Ludo Dierckxsens, Hans de Clerq, Rolf Sorensen, Leon van Bon.
The second group includes Jo Planckaert (Cofidis), Andrea Tafi and Franco Ballerini from Mapei, Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), and Peter Farazijn (Cofidis).
The chasing seven waited for Tchmil's group and are now riding strongly. This includes Tchmil, De Jong, Cassani, Loda, Planckaert, Zabel, van Petegem, Koerts, Hoffman, Aus, Nazon, Chavanel and others. Museeuw's group has a 1.30 lead on on group as they hit the cobbles D'haveluy - next up is the Arenberg forest section.
Museeuw has punctured! Vainsteins waits for his team-mate, which can only mean the Belgian means business today. Meanwhile, the old fox Tchmil has attacked the chasing group and is making his way up to the lead group. Museeuw has rejoined the lead group with the help of Vainsteins and at that moment, Sven Nijs needs a new wheel.
Vainsteins has his turn for the obligatory puncture and finds himself alone, while Sven Nijs rejoins after his flat. Behind them, Tchmil is now at 1.38 and closing.
The lead group has hit the Arenberg forest and Gaumont crashes heavily. He is taking some time to climb back on. The others slide through this dreadful section of pavé.
Wilfried Peeters attacked just as the lead group hit the forest and came out the other end with a 40 second lead, chased by Wesemann and six others, with other Domo riders on his wheel. Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) also needed a new wheel - he did not abandon.
Hincapie crashed in the muddy Arengberg forest section! George was looking very strong and is back up on his feet and needs a wheel.
15.17 - 170km
Wilfried Peeters has 34 seconds to the chasing group which now includes Hincapie who chased back on to the Museeuw group. A further two minutes behind lurk Tchmil (who was caught), Cassani, Piziks, Vierhouten, Tafi, Hoj, Milesi, Farazijn, van Petegem, Planckaert, Ballerini, Hoffman and others. It's still wide open at this stage with 84km to go.
15.22 - 173km
Wilfried Peeters has a 1.02 lead after passing through the Wallers cobbles over a group which includes team-mates Museeuw, Servais Knaven and Romans Vainsteins, with Hans de Clercq, Nico Mattan, Chris Peers, Steffen Wesemann, Leon van Bon, George Hincapie, Florent Brard, Ludo Dierckxsens and Jens Voigt having to chase. Domo is not actively blocking but it's playing into Domo's hands. Tchmil's group now has Tafi on the front and chasing hard.
Wilfried Peeters keeps his lead of just over one minute as a stalemate develops in the latter half of the race, with Domo riders sitting on anyone who wants to chase. Sorensen has joined the chasing bunch behind Peeters, while Andre Tchmil, Peter van Petegem and others try to close the 3.30 gap to the lead bunch.
Cyclo-cross star Sven Nijs is having the road-race of his life today, and maintains his place in the lead bunch behind Peeters.
Another shake-out at the head of the field - Wilfried Peeters (Domo) extends his lead to 1.32 and behind him are George Hincapie (USPS), Nico Mattan (Cofidis), Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) and three Domo riders: Johan Museeuw, Servais Knaven and Romans Vainsteins. The chasing bunch is down to six and half of them are from the same team.
At the finish in Roubaix team boss Patrick Lefevere (Domo) is watching the race. "It's nice with four in front of the race. We don't force it now with Peeters as leader. We have the 'old Mapei'-riders in front, so now the Italians know that it weren't the Italians who were strong for years. I like that. But the race isn't done yet. It can even go wrong on the track in Roubaix. But up 'til now I'm glad. I send some SMS-messages via my GSM to Marc Wauters in the race with only one word: RIDE, RIDE, RIDE."
15.50 - 190km
Wilfried Peeters (Domo) has a 1.15 lead on the chasing group of six, and 1.35 on the remainder of the main group. 62km to go.
16.00 - 195km
The chasing bunch now includes eight riders after Leon Van Bon (Mercury) and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) bridged, while Wilfried Peeters' lead has dropped to 55 seconds. It seems that the Domo rider is not pushing the pedals as hard as he was before and could be waiting for his team-mates.
16.07 - 197.5 km
At the exit of the second feed in Orchies, Wilfried Peeters (Domo) still had a lead of 50 seconds on the chasing group of eight, while the remainder of that lead group were still 2.10 behind. Could Domo be aiming for a 1-2-3 finish in Roubaix?
With the arrival of Chris Peers (Cofidis), the chasing group now numbers nine riders, a third of them from Domo. The lead Domo rider Wilfried Peeters has 50 seconds on this group, while a further 2.12 behind are Sven Nijs (Rabobank), Hans de Clercq (Lotto), Rolf Sorensen (CSC World Online), Florent Brard (Festina) and Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole). George Hincapie (US Postal) is still in there. It could come down to a sprint finish in Roubaix.
It's all happening - on zone 9 of the cobbles Wilfried Peeters (Domo) had 58 seconds on the chasing bunch. Then an attack by George Hincapie (US Postal) and Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) went clear and only Servais Knaven of the other Domo riders followed. Shortly after this attack, Johan Museeuw (Domo) punctured and nobody waited for him, and then Hincapie punctured, so Dierckxsens goes it alone with Knaven on his wheel and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) bridges to the leaders.
The chasers are closing on Wilfried Peeters (Domo), who now has a lead of 47 seconds. He's still riding strongly however there is reformed group of nine which includes George Hincapie (US Postal) after his puncture.
The sun is out and it's even warm, however, the chasers are looking at each other as none want to drag the Domo team-mates up to Wilfried Peeters. It's always Romans Vainsteins or Johan Museeuw in second or third wheel - and they're not working. Leon Van Bon (Mercury) talks to Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) and urges him to work.
16.38 - 40km to go
Wilfried Peeters (Domo) hits the cobbles at De Merignies with 40km to go and the chasing group hits the cobbles with Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) once again in the lead. Peeters has trouble with his pedals after this section of cobbles and loses time, but gets his foot back in and hits the gas.
Servais Knaven (Domo) punctures after the cobbles, gets a 10 second wheel change and chases his way back to the group.
16.48 - 34km to go
The group of nine are chasing Wilfried Peeters (Domo) but are unorganised - the Domo rider is only 17 seconds off the front. They still have five sections of cobbles and earlier, Peeters nearly crashed when a team mechanic tried to clear his pedal of mud.
16.54 - 30km to go
Wilfried Peeters (Domo) has found a new set of legs and has stretched his lead to 36 seconds to the chasing group, which still isn't working in an organised chase. Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) are the only two really working on the front, while Nico Mattan (Cofidis) looks spent on the back. The chasers include Johan Museeuw, who is always at second wheel to whoever is on the front of this bunch.
16.58 - 27km to go
They're letting him go! Wilfried Peeters (Domo) has extended his lead to 59 seconds - he could win it. The chasing group is unorganised and Johan Museeuw, Peeter's team-mate, is watching every move like a hawk. This is a critical stage of the race.
17.01 - 25km to go
Wilfried Peeters is grimacing and it's starting to hurt. The sun is on him but the riders are hard to distinguish due to the thick layer of mud over their clothing. The chasing group are rolling off and swapping turns, but it's not enough.
As Wilfried Peeters (Domo) enters the cobbles at De Cysoing he has extended his lead to 1.07 and now he's pouring on the power. It seems as though he has been given the OK to go for the win. The first chasers through this section of cobbles include George Hincapie (US Postal) but with two Domo riders - Johan Museeuw and Servais Knaven - on his wheel. Then Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) rejoin the chasing bunch. Hincapie powers into the next section of the cobbles and is trying to break the group down.
17.11 - 20km to go
Wilfried Peeters' lead has dropped below one minute and was even at 47 seconds after a huge turn on the front by George Hincapie on a section of cobbles. However, once they left the cobbles the chasers reformed - Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) and Leon van Bon (Mercury) were dropped but suffered their way back up to the chasing bunch.
George Hincapie (US Postal) looks strong but is frustrated as no other riders are willing to work and break the Domo stranglehold. Johan Museeuw (Domo) is always at second wheel and watching everyone.
Wilfreed Peeters (Domo) is riding for the win and is looking strong out on his own off the front, although suffering for his effort. His lead stays at 56 seconds after he exits De Camphin En Pevele. Peeters is the frist rider to plough his way through a huge muddy puddle but remains upright and maintains his lead.
Among the chasers, Leon van Bon (Mercury) crashes in the cobbles and Chris Peers (Cofidis) narrowly misses him. The Dutch rider will struggle to rejoin. There is now a group of five with a small gap from the chasing bunch, which includes George Hincapie (US Postal), three Domo riders and Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) at 43 seconds from race leader Wilfried Peeters (Domo).
17.22 - 15km to go
Johan Museeuw (Domo) has flatted and gets a 15 second wheel change. He remounts and immediately starts off in the 12 sprocket and accelerates down the road after thc chasing group, which still trail race leader Wilfried Peeters. Nico Mattan (Cofidis) crashes and is chasing back on, while Peeters is struggling on these last sections of cobbles and his lead has dropped to 15 seconds.
Museeuw catches Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) and hammers past in pursuit of the main group, which includes George Hincapie (US Postal) who have now reduced Wilfried Peeters' lead down to five seconds.
17.25 - 13km to go
Wilfried Peeters (Domo) has been caught after nearly two hours off the front! If it comes down to a sprint, world champion Romans Vainsteins (Domo) is favoured for the sprint, but George Hincapie is also very strong. At this stage there are four leaders - George Hincapie (US Postal), Vainsteins, Servais Knaven (Domo) and Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre).
17.30 - 11km to go
In a huge show of strength, Johan Museeuw (Domo) has rejoined the leaders, and also dragged team-mate Wilfried Peeters back up to the leading four - now there are four Domo riders joining George Hincapie (US Postal) and Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre). Servais Knaven (Domo) attacks and Hincapie has to chase - the attacks will probably keep coming as Domo plays the numbers game.
17.33 - 9km to go
Servais Knaven (Domo) puts in another attack and quickly builds a lead of 300 metres. Two sections of cobbles remain and George Hincapie (US Postal) is on the front leading the chase, but the Domo riders sit on and do nothing.
17.37 - 6km to go
Servais Knaven (Domo) has extended his lead to 25 seconds as he enters second last section of cobbles in the race. Meanwhile, Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) has rejoined the leading group, which includes George Hincapie (US Postal), Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre), Romans Vainsteins (Domo) and Johan Museeuw (Domo).
17.41 - 4km to go
Romans Vainsteins (Domo) puts in an attack from the chasing bunch but is caught - Servais Knaven's lead has grown to 54 seconds and he seems to have it in the bag for Domo.
17.42 - 4km to go
The chasers have four to go and Romans Vainsteins (Domo) tries again but is caught. He tries a few accelerations in preparation for the sprint. George Hincapie (US Postal) tries an acceleration but Johan Museeuw (Domo) won't let him go. It starts to rain again. Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) tries an attack and once again Museeuw covers - even after his huge chase back on after a puncture, he is very strong.
17.45 - 0.9km to go
Servais Knaven (Domo) enters the last section of cobbles while behind Johan Museeuw (Domo) attacks in search of a second place. No-one has followed the Belgian rider and his team-mate Knaven enters the Roubaix velodrome.
17.48 - last lap of the velodrome
In a brutal show of strength, Servais Knaven (Ned) gets the win for Domo Farm-Frites and Johan Museeuw (Bel) will get second for Domo after his last-minute attack. Knaven takes the time to clean the mud off the front of his jersey for his sponsors, nearly slips and falls in the soaking wet velodrome as he does his victory salute but crosses the line for first place. Making it a Domo 1-2-3 is Museeuw in second and then Romans Vainsteins wins the sprint for third, while George Hincapie (USA) claims fourth for US Postal.
In amazing final 100km, Andre Tchmil (Lotto) makes up some time, and a lot of position to, take out eighth place.
2001 Paris-Roubaix, 264.5km