100th Paris-Roubaix - CDM
France, April 14, 2002
Complete Live Report
Start time: 10:40 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews.com's live coverage of the one hundredth running of the Queen of the classics, the Hell of the North, Paris-Roubaix.
The weather at the start is bright and sunny, whcih is reflected in the rider's faces - not as nervous as the Ronde last week - but further north it is cloudier and the maximum for the day is forecast to be around 11°C; the dry spell that has marked the last few weeks in these parts has finally given way and there may be some showers around; although that may mean a few wet cobbles it will not be anything like last year's mudbath, and at any rate it will have cut down on the dust raised by the race convoy. There is a bit of a wind from the north, however - a headwind most of the way, in other words - and the organisers have brought the start forwards by 20 minutes to compensate.
The course heads fairly directly northwards to start with, but with just a tad under 100 km before the first cobbles, it is unlikely that we'll see anything more than the usual échappée fleuve in the first couple of hours; there are five French teams riding who do not yet have their places in the Tour de France secured by right, so it would not be a great surprise to see a few of their riders up the road in the early stages of the race as a hint to the organisers, however.
11:18 CEST 15 km/246 km to go
This year's course has not changed a great deal from last year's, but there are a couple of kilometres more cobbles in the 26 reverse-numbered sections from Troisville (after 99.8 km) to the symbolic Éspace Charles Cruypelandt in Roubaix itself (named for the only native Roubaisien winner of the race in 1912 and 1914).
The riders are now on the road, with the field riding briskly but no attacks as yet. At the start Cyclingnews spoke to last year's winner Servais Knaven (Domo-Farm Frites) who has been in the wars recently: "Last Thursday I was out training and there was a big bunch of schoolkids coming the other way on a cycle path and we got into a bit of a tangle; I hurt my elbow." Were you worried about missing the race? "To start with I was worried. I went to hospital and there was nothing broken. I'll start the race and then see how it goes." Is there a lot of pressure? "This year is another year. I think we have a strong team, but maybe we're not favourites. Mapei have a lot of guys like Tafi who will be strong at the end; they have strength throughout the team." What do you think of the weather? "It's better than last year. I've heard that it's raining in Belgium, though - maybe it's coming this way."
11:56 CEST 40 km/221 km to go
With the head/crosswind (the course goes north-easterly, the wind has a bit of west in it), echelons have formed; at the front of the race a few dozen riders have half a minute's advantage.
The wind conditions look as though they may well favour the teams likely to have a few riders still in contention after the cobbles really get going (Museuuw reckons that his race doesn't start until the forest of Wallers-Arenberg, although last year the very first pavé was decisive, at least in a negative way, for quite a large chunk of the field) - over the isolated specialists. Mapei, Domo and Telekom are the first names to spring to mind, although US Postal also showed well on the pavé in the Ronde last week, with Tom Boonen and Antonio Cruz in support of George Hincapie.
12:12 CEST 55 km/206 km to go
On the long, straight roads coming up towards Saint Quentin, the front group, which numbers 33 riders, have taken the lead up to more than a minute. The leaders include Nico Mattan (Cofidis), Jacky Durand (FdJ) and Fabio Baldato (Fassa Bortolo) - all fully paid-up members of the Usual Suspects club - as well as Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE).
As noted at length elsewhere, one of the many absentees today is World Cup leader Mario Cipollini, who is spending the afternoon at Monza instead. He clearly has a certain attraction for motor racing circuits, since he also spent part of last week at Belgium's Cicuit Zolder - not coincidentally the venue for next October's World Championships.
12:51 CEST 95 km/166 km to go
As the field approaches the beginning of the pavé, the front group has a lead of around 3 minutes over the bunch led by the US Postal team. The weather has taken a significant turn for the worse; the rain has set in, it's cold and the wind has risen a bit as well.
13:06 CEST 100 km/161 km to go
The break is now on the first secteur pavé at Troisville, which is clearly very slippery; the corners are being taken very steadily. The main teams are all represented in the front group, with the young hopefuls Laszlo Bodrogi (Mapei) and Tom Boonen (US Postal), last year's winner Servais Knaven and Max Van Heeswijk for Domo and Telekom's Danilo Hondo and Andreas Klier; after the pavé around ten of the front group have lost contact.
The newly wetted dirt on the pavé appears to be more slippery than last year's heavy coating of mud.
13:15 CEST 114 km/147 km to go
On sector 24 at Quévy which is followed closely by sector 23 at Saint-Python, it is Mapei's Laszlo Bodrogi and Rob Hunter and the Estonian national champion Janek Tombak (Cofidis) who are setting the pace.
Hunter punctures and it is now Hondo and Boonen at the front of a rapidly diminishing group, with roders already becoming difficult to identify. No news of what is happening further back in the field, but at the end of the Saint-Python stretch the break is down to riders, with just under 4 minutes lead over the front of what was the bunch, although there are many riders scattered inbetween.
13:29 CEST 117 km/144 km to go
At the first feed at Solesmes, there are seven leaders:
Enrico Cassani (Ita) Domo - Farm Frites
Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Domo - Farm Frites
Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Mapei - Quick Step
Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto - Adecco
Rafael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast
Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC Tiscali
Tom Boonen (Bel) US Postal Service
The deceleration for the feed allows a few more riders to catch up, including Nico Mattan (Cofidis). The lead has increased slightly to 4.38 at the feed.
13:47 CEST 134 km/130 km to go
The front group is up to fifteen or so coming into sector 21 at Quérénaing, with Hunter and Pedro Horillo making it four Mapei riders, with the gap stable. This is looking like a serious move now; US Postal are doing a lot of work at the front with Boonen isolated in the break. Normal team tactics apply less here - a man in the break is less important than keeping your main riders near the front of the group for the cobbled sections. Mattan and Knaven look the most comfortable on the pavé here.
14:03 CEST 138 km/123 km to go
Sixteen leaders together tackle sector 19 at Maing without attacks, but again Rob Hunter punctures; Hans De Clercq, Lotto's sole representative in the break, leads them off the pavé.
Fabio Baldato, in the break before they reached the pavé, has packed.
14:16 CEST 146 km/115 km to go
As the break - down to 14, having lost Hunter and Hondo comes onto zone 17 at Haspres, five minutes back down the road Johan Museeuw punctures from the bunch; a quick change on the tarmac, though.
In the break, another Mapei puncture - this time for Horillo - and by contrast he has a nightmare of a wheel change from the neutral service bike, and loses a good 45 seconds. The gap to the bunch is now up over 5 minutes, but the communications situation - always confused by the fragmented race - is made worse by the fact that the race organisation's radio system has failed ...
Thsi pavé section is followed by a relatively long stretch of tarmac - 11 or 12 km - but what follows is the difficult stertch at Haveluy follwed 5 km further on by the Forest of Wallers-Arenberg
14:37 CEST 158 km/103 km to go
Another of the favourites in the bunch (which is about 60 strong, still with a mass of blue jerseys at the front) punctures on the asphalt section and has to chase - this time it is the turn of Erik Zabel. The front group, still 14, passes the Haveluy pavé without major incident, led through by Raphael Schweda (Coast) and Enrico Cassani (Domo), but the gap has now come down to 4.07 as the field starts the charge to Wallers.
14:51 CEST 167 km/94 km to go
Enrico Cassani leads the front group past the old pithead and onto the most celebrated stretch of pavé on the course, the Forest of Wallers-Arenberg; De Clercq, Boonen and Schweda follow comfortably.
The year the crowd have been fenced off to one side of te "trench", which should avoid the worst of the problems that have been caused in the past when riders sought to avoid the pavé via the footpaths.
The peloton hits the pavé with a few tangles at the back but no major dramas of the undesirable nature; a useful looking quartet including Museeuw and Hincapie comes through with a clear advantage. There are now small groups of riders spread evenly over several minutes; by the time the leaders reach the Wallers section, ten have come together again.
Three minutes Behind we have Hincapie, Michaelsen, Wesemann and Museeuw, now joined by Van Petegem with what remains of the bunch a couple of hundred metres behind them. Ther weather has dried out a bit, but the roads are still damp.
Correction: not Van Petegem, but his teammate Thierry Marichal, earlier in the front group.
15:11 CEST 180 km/81 km to go
On the tarmac between Walelrs and Hornaing the Museeuw group, clearly fastest on the road at the moment, picks up a group dropped from the break including Serpellini and Hunter. Behind them Lotto are leading the bunch for Van Petegem who has not made a move yet.
15:21 CEST 184 km/77 km to go
On section 13 Museeuw, Wesemann and Hincapie ride most of the caught riders off their wheels. Now just a couple of minutes in front Boonen is clearly taking it steady to await the arrival of Hincapie, while in front Nico Mattan and Hans de Clercq have a go off the front.
15:32 CEST 188 km/73 km to go
De Clercq and Mattan hold 15 seconds lead over the longest pavé section, the 4.8 kilometres between Warlaing and Sars-et-Rosières. Wesemann has been dropped by the Museeuw group, now down to five - Museeuw, Hincapie, Michaelsen, Vierhouten and Marichal, but the gap to the front pair seems to have stabilised at 2 minutes. At the back of the race (more or less) a group including Tafi, Zabel and Spruch seem to be beaten.
De Clercq nearly loses it on a patch of mud and has to put his foot down but Mattan, presumably not feeling like 80 km alone into a headwind, waits for him; behind, in a third group including Van Petegem and Wesemann, a slip brings down a Lotto rider (later revealed to be Van Petegem himself) and with him Wesemann, Fred Rodriguez and the unfortunate Rob Hunter.
15:41 CEST 196 km/65 km to go
There is another longish asphalt stretch between sectors 12 and 11 (the Chemin des Prières and Chemin des Abattoirs at Orchies); here there is a regrouping at the front, with the two leaders being caught by Boonen, Hoffmann, Schweda, Cassani, Bodrogi and Van Heeswijk before the feed. Behind them Museeuw, Michaelsen and Hincapie have caught up Servais Knaven along with Max Sciandri - Domo seem to have a lot of men in the right places all of a sudden.
15:56 CEST 204 km/57 km to go
On the Chemin des Abattoirs Hans De Clercq sets the leading octet a pace that all but Van Heeswijk decline to follow, although all the others bar Bodrogi catch up fairly quickly. The Museeuw group, now swelled by a a few more caught riders, is less than a minute behind, however. The finale of the race is about to take shape.
16:03 CEST 210 km/51 km to go
At the beginning of zone 10 Bodrogi, who had struggled back up, blows up spectacularly and climbs off. Mattan has another brief foray off the front, which does for De Clercq. Behind Hincapie and Museeuw have a shakeout of their group, with only Wesemann and Sciandri being able to hold them; at the end of the pavé they are just 34 seconds behind the leaders.
16:20 CEST 218 km/43 km to go
At the end of zone 9 at Mons-en-Pévelé the Museeuw group has the leaders in sight, and a couple of kilometres later the two groups merge. Next behind them is a trio of Rodriguez, Knaven and De Clercq at 15".
16:25 CEST 221 km/40 km to go
Towards the end of zone 8 Museeuw puts the pressure on as he comes through to take a turn and opens a gap of 11 seconds over Michaelsen and Hincapie, the fastest of the chasers. There are still 40 km to go to Roubaix, but the roads are drying out now.
Behind the others come up to Hincapie one by one and his US Postal team-mate Tom Boonen is leading the chase. The roads are lined with flag-waving crowds now, and almost all of them are the Belgian tricolour and the Vlaamse Leeuw.
16:34 CEST 225 km/36 km to go
On a section of twisting left and right turns a crash splits up the chasing group, with Museeuw's team-mate Max Van Heeswijk last to get up. Museeuw now has 24 seconds lead from Boonen and Hincapie, with the rest spread down the road behind him - two against one.
16:40 CEST 231 km/30 km to go
Over section 6, a brief new addition to the course past the restored windmill at Vertain, and the gap is still going up - 35 seconds at 30 km to go; Boonen is just hanging on to Hincapie now; behind them the remainder of the old leading group is clearly moving more slowly, with Van Heeswijk at the front - they are another half minute down.
The pain is clearly visible on Museeuw's face, while Hincapie is stony faced as ever.
16:47 CEST 236 km/25 km to go
Museeuw enters sector 5 at Cysoing, newly rechristened for Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle, with 50 seconds lead. Boonen is not cooked yet - he manages to drop his team leader briefly. The roads here are wetter again - not raining now but a shower pas passed recently.
16:56 CEST 244 km/17 km to go
On the heavily muddy zone 5 at Camphin, Museeuw's lead is now over a minute - he is doing what he does best. Behind him the 21-year old Boonen is still doing his best for Hincapie - looking a little scrappy beside the stylish American, but definitely the revelation of the last fortnight, following an excellent ride in the Ronde and a 7th place in Gent-Wevelgem in midweek. If Museeuw does what he said he said he wanted to do last weekend - retire on a win - then there may well be a surprise candidate for his replacement as the Flemish favourite.
Hincapie slips on the muddy pavé and ends up with his bike in a reasonably deep ditch; Boonen continues - appears to be hanging back for his team leader, though.
17:04 CEST 246 km/15 km to go
Museeuw is now on the Carrefour de l'Arbre, the last serious section of pavé, with more than two minutes from Boonen. Behind, Wesemann has come from behind to catch Hincapie; the duo are just a few seconds behind Boonen.
Wesemann drops Hincapie on the Carrefour de l'Arbre and closes on Boonen, who has clearly now been allowed to ride for himself.
17:14 CEST 251 km/10 km to go
Museeuw passes the 10km board with just two brief sections of pavé to cover, with just over two and a half minutes lead on Wesemann and Boonen, the American just caught by the German. Behind, a resigned-looking Hincapie has been joined by Thierry Gouvenou (Big Mat), a bit of a Paris-Roubaix specialist who has been lurking in the background most of the day.
17:17 CEST 254 km/7 km to go
As Museeuw heads onto the pavé at Hem (zone 2) he has 2.45 lead over Boonen and Wesemann, 3.35 on Gouvenou, Hincapie and another quartet who have just caught them.
Gouvenou has problems and has to have a bike change, as does Hoffmann who was one of those with him.
17:21 CEST 256 km/5 km to go
Museeuw's lead at the 5 km board is 2.53; the chase has now all but been abandoned and the chasers are thinking more about the minor placings.
17:25 CEST 259 km/2 km to go
Museeuw enters the town of Roubaix down the Avenue Charles de Gaulle; in 1996 he won this race in its centenary year - short of something utterly disastrous he should now also take it in its one hundredth edition.
Safely over the Espace Crypelands, and into the Velodrome de Roubaix for a apectacular reception.
Museeuw, heavily spattered rather than caked in grime, wins his 10th World cup race in classic style in 6:37.57, with his pursuers not even at the final section of pavé.
Wesemann dummies Boonen into leading out on the entrance to the track, and takes second ahead of the much less experienced Belgian.
Tristan Hoffmann leads in Lars Michaelsen and George Hincapie in a very tired sprint for 4th place.
1. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo - Farm Frites 261 km in 6.37.57 (39.35 km)
2. Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Team Telekom 3.03
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) US Postal Service 3.07
4. Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC Tiscali 3.58
5. Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team Coast
6. George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service
7. Thierry Gouvenou (Fra) Bigmat - Auber 93
8. Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Domo - Farm Frites
9. Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis, le credit par téléphone
10. Enrico Cassani (Ita) Domo - Farm Frites
World Cup standings
1. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo - Farm Frites 170
2. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 120
3. Andrea Tafi (Ita) Mapei-Quickstep 106
In the post-race interviews Museeuw refuses to be drawn on the matter of his next move - it is going to be "a surprise". Which may of course mean that he hasn't made up his mind yet. Wesemann has yet to join the ranks of classic winners as he surely must; Boonen is a massive revelation for the classics in the future.
Thanks for following the race with Cyclingnews.com - we hope to see you again for our next live coverage from the Flèche Wallonne this Wednesday, 17 April.