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104th Paris-Roubaix - PT

France, April 9, 2006

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Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan, Hedwig Kröner, Brecht Decaluwé

Live report

Live coverage starts: 11:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST

The start
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

10:49 CEST   
Welcome aboard our newly refurbished gas heated online dirigible, Hindenburg V, for our live coverage of the 104th Paris-Roubaix. Thanks to the one and only Prince George Sanoussi, the first son of Late Zainoul Abidine Sanoussi, who was the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Guinea-Conakry, we now have $5 billion worth of Nigerian currency, which we spent on flower arrangements and equipping the blimp for stealth flying. And a minibar.

This year's edition of Compiegne-Roubaix features 52.7 km of cobbles in its total of 259 km. They are split into 27 secteurs pavés, beginning at Troisvilles (km 98) and finishing at km 259 just before the entrance to the Roubaix velodrome. Each sector is given a rating according to its difficulty, and the key sectors are no. 17 - the notorious Trouée d'Arenberg at km 163.5, which usually breaks the race, no. 10 at Mons-en-Pévèle (km 210), and no. 4, the Carrefour de l'Arbre which comes at km 242.

The weather today is fairly typical for spring in this region. It's cloudy, with the sun peeking through, and dry. It's about 10 degrees and the wind is blowing from the north west at between 10 and 20 km/h. We could well get some rain showers later on.

10:55 CEST   
The riders have left Compiegne for a short neutral section before they begin the race proper, on the outskirts of the town. Start time is scheduled for 11am.

11:01 CEST   
Ex-winner Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle's son Hervé is starting in Paris-Roubaix. "I am thrilled Hervé is taking the plunge," Duclos-Lassalle told the VUM newspapers. "The mentality among the French riders has to change. The moment they cross the Loire (river) they lose it. Too cold, too much rain. That's precisely why Tom Boonen is a blessing for international cycling. Tom starts in December with the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and the Hell, the French think ten days of preparation is enough.

"I see that Hervé (26) has the same traits as I had. Just then he passed me without even noticing me. Fully concentrated. Although it could be that he tells me on Sunday evening: what a shit race is this. I have proposed to him to try and go in a long attack. If he tells me in the evening: dad, I want to prepare for this in a special way in the future, then I'll be the happiest father of all.

"I won Paris-Nice, stages in the Tour, Bordeaux-Paris, but people remember me most because I was the last French rider to win the double. After the millimetersprint against Ballerini we have become friends. I still hear Patrick Lefevere yelling in his ear: lose the old one, he will flick you on the track. I won Paris-Roubaix once with the legs and once with the head."

11:03 CEST    3km/256km to go
There were 194 riders at the start, with Cofidis' Thierry Marichal a DNS. The official start time was 10:58.

11:07 CEST   
In 1993 Franco Ballerini lost Paris-Roubaix to Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle, who he considered to be slower and not as good as him. "I am still grateful for the lesson he thought me," Ballerini is quoted in HNB. "Duclos-Lassalle is my friend, my teacher. He took the win in Paris-Roubaix from in front of my nose. The race of my dreams, which I hadn't won then yet. I only succeeded doing that five years later (Ballerini won twice, in 1995 and 1998). Probably thanks to Duclos. When I was riding in the front with him, I saw myself as the winner. Nothing could happen to me, I thought. My companion didn't exist for me, I didn't have respect for him. The result is known. It was a hard lesson, but the Frenchman thought me to respect others. That I am grateful for."

11:15 CEST    12km/247km to go
The race has gotten away to a reasonably quick start, but no breakaway has managed to establish itself yet.

11:19 CEST   
We spoke to Cofidis' Brad Wiggins yesterday about his feelings for Paris-Roubaix, and his thoughts were with his former teammate Saul Raisin, who is in a coma after crashing in the Circuit de la Sarthe.

"Last few days have been sort of funny, really, with what's happened with Saul Raisin; he's a good friend of mine and we're just sort of waiting for news everybody, so it's been quite difficult for a few of us, because some of us were with Credit Agricole.

"But I'm looking forward to Sunday; it's a scary and nervous thing going into it because it's such a big event and there's a lot of excitement and fear at the same time. But once you're on the start line, it all seems to go out the window and you just concentrate on the racing."

Wiggins said that he and his teammates rode over most of the course on Thursday, including 15 of the pave sectors. That's hard core training for you!

11:24 CEST    18km/241km to go
The attacks start, with Marc De Maar (Rabobank) and Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) breaking the spell after 17 km. They get nowhere, and it's Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile) who has a go next. With the same result.

11:29 CEST   
The UCI blood tested four teams and 29 riders at the start this morning (Liquigas, Gerolsteiner, Team LPR and Saunier Duval). No rider was declared unfit to start.

11:36 CEST    29km/230km to go
The attacks continue thick and fast in what is shaping up to be a very quick first hour of racing. Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R) tries, without luck.

11:45 CEST    34km/225km to go
There's been a crash after 31 km, with George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) one of two riders involved. But he's back on the bike and back in the peloton. Not an auspicious start, but hopefully he's OK.

There's very little wind at the moment, hence the high speed in the first hour.

The S.P.A. (Suspension Performance Advantage) elastomer shock
(Click for larger image)

11:50 CEST   
Hincapie and the other Discovery riders are riding special Treks today, just for Paris-Roubaix. It features a longer wheel base and a rear shock absorber, and is designed to reduce fatigue on the riders towards the end of the race.

Cyclingnews has a feature on this bike here.

11:51 CEST    41km/218km to go
The next riders to attack are Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) and Stephane Berges (Agritubel), but they are reclaimed by the bunch after 38 km.

12:07 CEST    50km/209km to go
The first hour is completed at an average speed of 47.1 km/h, and still no-one can get away. Brard (Caisse d'Epargne) and Martias (Bouygues) tried, then Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Burghardt (T-Mobile) and Jégou (Française des Jeux). No dice.

12:17 CEST   
It has been nine years since France last had a Paris-Roubaix winner. Frédéric Guesdon (now 34) was the unexpected winner of Paris-Roubaix nine years ago and since there haven't been any real French favourites riding for the victory in the Hell of the North.

"Only a French Tom Boonen can save us", Guesdon told HNB. "It's a vicious circle. We don't have any toppers any more, the interest of the media is diminishing, the youth is looking for other challenges. Only the Tour keeps everybody awake.

"Anthony Geslin (bronze medal at the World's in Madrid) is doing a good job. And we had the third placing of the young Mondory in Waregem [Dwars door Vlaanderen]. It's a paradox with four ProTour teams and with the solid continental team Agritubel. Never before have we had more French riders starting races. The problem is they turn up their noses at this sort of race.

"Only in my team (FdJ.com) we have too many candidates. The is because Marc Madiot (who won P-R twice himself) promotes the right cycling culture. The others don't. After the Three days de Panne, my young training partner and ex-Junior World Champion Arnaud Gérard went laughing back to Bretagne. That is a rare thing."

The problem is the mentality according to Guesdon. "The Tour de France is blinding, but if you don't know what you can achieve there after two starts, turn the page and concentrate on something else. For a French rider a Tour stage win, or a day in the yellow means as much as hitting the jackpot; you can live on it your whole career. Look at Voeckler. He had two good months two years ago: that's it, it's in the pocket."

12:21 CEST    61km/198km to go
20 riders gain an advantage of 10 seconds over the bunch, including Nuyens (QuickStep), Hayman (Rabobank), Vogels (Davitamon), Burghardt, Giling and Schmitz (T-Mobile), Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Clerc, Guidi and Grabsch (Phonak), Bodrogi (CA), Jégou (FDJ), Lequatre and Valentin (Cofidis), Uribarri (Euskaltel), Mazur (Saunier Duval), Pütsep, Riblon and Laurent (AG2R), Mitlushenko (LPR), Tjallingii and Van Hummel (Skil Shimano). But like all the other moves so far, it fails. It's going to be tough to get a decent lead before the first cobbles at Troisvilles (km 98).

12:25 CEST    68km/191km to go
The most promising attack of the day so far contains four riders: Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile) and Dmitri Konyshev (LPR). They have 20 seconds after 67 km, with the attack starting at km 62.

12:32 CEST    73km/186km to go
The four leaders are progressing relatively well, and have half a minute lead over the bunch, with some 25 km to go before the first cobbles. They could well make it to there with a bit of a lead, but then all hell generally breaks loose.

Marc Wauters (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

12:34 CEST   
At the start in Compiègne, Cyclingnews noticed a man with some ambition. Marc Wauters will race his last Paris-Roubaix and knows he can get a good result: "I'm relaxed. I have good hopes on having a good race. I'm ready to rumble!"

Not everybody has the same experience in the queen of all classics. The small Skil-Shimano team received a wild card and Maarten Tjallingii is one of their riders. He is a neo-pro and obviously this is his first start in Paris-Roubaix: "Actually I did Paris-Roubaix already twice. I finished second and third in the mountain bike version of this race. Bart Brentjens and Filip Meirhaeghe [also competing in P-R this year] were the winners then."

The atmosphere in the team must be very strange, as Skil is not a ProTour team, competing in this classic. "This is a big sporting challenge for me personally. I want to make it to the finish in Roubaix. That would be huge. Everybody in the team is very motivated to grab this chance with both hands. In the end, this is the biggest one day race in the world."

Aart Vierhouten leads the team but probably Tjallingii has his own mission. "I'll try to get into an escape, but most riders are at the top of there capabilities. That makes it very hard to succeed, but we must try though."

12:39 CEST   
Cyclingnews spoke to defending champion and number one favourite Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) at the start in Compiegne this morning. We asked him how important the Arenberg forest section was, and the reply was in the affirmative: "Yeah, because after it, you have a natural selection and the race starts all over again. I think we will be there in the last 30, 40 k's with six, seven, eight, nine, ten guys - it all depends - and I hope we have a fair pedal [sprint] in the final. Before that [Arenberg Forest], I can win or lose the race; if I'm there, it's much easier for me."

Rivals? "Considering the past and the last two races, I think Hincapie from Discovery, Van Petegem, Cancellara... I think they will be the most important rivals."

12:41 CEST   
Tom Boonen is riding a modified Time VXS bike today, and Cyclingnews previewed it before the race. You can read all about it here.

12:42 CEST    80km/179km to go
Crunch time is rapidly approaching, and it looks like the peloton is going to hit the first cobbles as one bunch. But the four leaders are still dangling 25 seconds in front, with JP Nazon (AG2R) trying to get across to them.

12:43 CEST   
Nazon fails, and Brard tries next to get across alone.

12:45 CEST   
André Korff is one of the workers in the T-Mobile team: "My job is to help Wesemann and Klier as long as possible. When hell breaks lose, I'll see how I end up," he told Cyclingnews at the start.

The rider obviously hasn't got ambitions in winning this race. "My main goal besides helping our leaders is finishing the race. But if a big group gets away, we need to have some of the six other riders in it. That could be me."

12:47 CEST   
Brard comes back and the four leaders extend their advantage out to 45 seconds, the biggest of the race so far.

The break consists of: Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile) and Dmitri Konyshev (LPR).

12:51 CEST    85km/174km to go
The leaders now gain the magic minute over the peloton, which should see them through the first sector of cobbles. Iker Flores (Euskaltel) is 50 seconds behind them, chasing alone.

12:53 CEST   
Roger Hammond (Discovery) had a worrying week after his crash in the Tour of Flanders. His medical status is rather well, it seems: "I feel alright. The knee could be much worse. I'll be alright, hopefully."

12:55 CEST    87km/172km to go
The chase group is now Marco Righetto (Liquigas), Stephane Berges (Agritubel), and Iker Flores, and they trail the four leaders by 1'00, with the peloton at 1'15. Only 10 km to go boys, then it becomes chaotic.

13:05 CEST    97km/162km to go
We're almost on the first sector at Troisvilles, and it's still Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile) and Dmitri Konyshev (LPR) in front with a 1'20 gap over Marco Righetto (Liquigas), Stephane Berges (Agritubel), and Iker Flores (Euskaltel), and the peloton now at 2'05.

13:10 CEST    99km/160km to go
The leaders are on the Troisvilles sector now, 2.2 km of jarring cobblestones, the first of 52.7 km. The three chasers are still at 1'25, with the bunch back at 2'20.

13:18 CEST    103km/156km to go
After the first sector, the lead quartet still has 2'15 on the bunch.

Frank Hoj (Gerolsteiner) gets a 15 second gap on the pave.

13:21 CEST   
We've just uploaded a gallery of photos from the start this morning. Check it out here.

13:26 CEST   
Frank Hoj (Gerolsteiner) nodded at the start: "I feel good now, but I won't later on."

13:30 CEST    110km/149km to go
The leaders have passed through sectors 26 and 25 now, and have a nice advantage of 4'00 over the peloton. The three chasers (Righetto and co) are still there at 2'25, with Hoj closing in at 2'55.

Fabian Cancellara (CSC)
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

13:32 CEST   
Swiss outsider Fabian Cancellara (CSC) has high ambitions "We have our own plans at this race. Because we know we are strong. We'll give our very best to win here, that's for sure." It could be that Cancellara receives some help in the finale: "It's important to have a team mate like Lars [Michaelsen], as he's very strong at the moment. We will have a strong race with him."

13:33 CEST    118km/141km to go
Portal chomps on a Mars Bar as the break refuels.

Johan Verstrepen (Landbouwkrediet) is just ahead of the peloton.

13:37 CEST    121km/138km to go
In the bunch, Hulsmans, Van Bon and Devolder are near the front, keeping an eye on things. The bunch is at the feed zone.

Portal takes off his leg warmers, which requires a little dexterity. The break hits zone 23 at Vertain to St-Martin-sur-Écaillon with its lead intact. Konyshev pedals smoothly on the front, enjoying the dry conditions. It's a beautiful day at the moment, and most riders don't even have arm warmers on.

Hoj has caught the three counter attackers, so there are four chasing four.

13:38 CEST   
Cyclingnews first asks Mark Renshaw if he wants to move up a bit closer to the front at the start before having a chat. "Nah mate, I've got 200 kilometres to move up!" he jokes.

CN: How have you been going in the Classics leading up to Roubaix?

MR: Oh good. Had a really good Tour of Flanders, done the job for Thor and got him in that front 15 on the Oude Kwaremont, which is always going to be the most decisive climb in the race. I was a little disappointed going over the top, but I just couldn't go with them; there was about 30 or 40 guys that split and I was on the wheel of Ekimov - when you see guys like Ekimov getting ripped off the back, you know it's a hard race. Again, with Gent-Wevelgem and Thor winning, it was really good for the team. I did my job after the Kemmelberg and that was it.

CN: So you've obviously got good condition - are you happy with your form?

MR: Yeah... this year, I've been good, but I haven't quite been super yet. I'm just waiting for that period to arrive and it's usually around now that it arrives, so hopefully [it comes] either next week when I've still got a few races in France, or after I had a bit of a rest before the Four Days of Dunkirk.

CN: Is the team plan simply to protect Thor as much as possible before Arenberg?

MR: Oh, today's 100 percent for Thor; we've got a few guys going to cover the early moves, then we've got four or five guys looking after Thor up until the Arenberg. Really after that, that's where the race is going to be decided. But he's definitely got the legs to go top five today.

CN: Is Thor even more confident in his abilities to make the front group after Gent-Wevelgem?

MR: Yeah, he knows he can do it; it's just going to be the world versus Tom Boonen today, and hopefully we can see a few guys take it to him. Winning Gent-Wevelgem took a bit of pressure off him, which is good, so he's pretty happy now.

CN: Is there fear in the peloton surrounding Boonen at the moment, because of his dominance?

MR: He's definitely dominant, but I think Discovery at the Tour of Flanders, they could have played a better game. Anyway, we'll find out in six hours and twenty minutes who's the winner!

CN: Not that you're counting! From the reconnaissance you've done, other there any other key secteurs apart from Arenberg?

MR: Oh, the whole 27 secteurs are going to be crucial, but definitely after the Arenberg, where we turn left and hit the next five sections, that's definitely going to be hard.

13:39 CEST   
More Quick.Step jerseys are moving to the front, including Nuyens and Van Impe. The gap is now 4'28 to the front break, the biggest lead so far.

13:40 CEST    123km/136km to go
The bunch hits the zone at Vertain with Van Impe lifting the pace on the front and stringing things out. Quick.Step will want to make the race as hard as it can, without wasting too many riders.

Verstrepen is caught.

13:43 CEST    125km/134km to go
Van Impe and Nuyens ride through clouds of dust as he tows the peloton along sector 23. Riders are now switching lines, trying to find a smoother section to ride on. The crown of the road is the best.

The sector is finished, and Nuyens continues on the front. T-Mobile have also moved riders up along with the Quick.Steps. Boonen is there in about 15th wheel, and Ballan is also not far from the front.

A Skil Shimano rider counters.

13:45 CEST   
The Skil rider gets 5 seconds, but the peloton reacts and he comes back.

Mattan flats.

13:48 CEST    127km/132km to go
The gap is up to 4'48 as there are at least five Quick.Steps near the front of the peloton, behind a Landbouwkrediet rider that looks like Meirhaeghe. Another Landbouwkrediet attacks: Kevin Neyrinck. De Jongh marks him, then Steels. But Steels looks back and overlaps De Jongh's wheel and goes flying. Ouch, that can't be good for you. It doesn't cause too many other riders to crash though. That was a strange one.

The bunch regroups, then Devolder takes over on the front.

Hushovd punctures.

13:50 CEST    129km/130km to go
The peloton is not riding too hard now, with T-Mobile in front. They're on sector 22, Capelle-sur-Écaillon, which is not too difficult. The gap came down to 3'53, but will probably go up again now.

13:52 CEST    131km/128km to go
Milram and T-Mobile lead on sector 22, now De Jongh comes through again, then Devolder. The grassy bit in the middle of the road provides some comfort, but Devolder prefers to sit just to the left of it.

The four chasers are now 3'30 behind the four leaders, which means they are only half a minute ahead of the main bunch.

13:53 CEST   
We spoke to Phonak's sprinter Robert Hunter this morning.

CN: How have you been feeling leading up to this race?

RH: I've been pretty quiet up till now; I've just been taking it easy, trying to get my condition as good as possible.

CN: How have you been performing in the races leading up to Roubaix?

RH: Pretty good. Flanders I stopped at the second feed, just found myself in a bad position, so I just used it as training. Gent-Wevelgem, found myself in the second group at just got to the finish. I was feeling okay, but haven't been super.

CN: What's the team strategy today - you're one of the guys who could go in the early break - you've done it before at M-SR?

RH: Yeah, we've got a couple of guys who are pretty keen to get in the early break today. It's one of those races where an early break is not a bad thing; it makes life a lot easier if you are up the road - you don't have to fight with 180 guys for position on the cobbles, so it's not a bad race to be up the road. And we've also got a couple of guys in good condition to try and make it to the finish.

CN: From the reconnaissance everyone's done, the key secteur is still Arenberg - are there any other key secteurs to watch out for?

RH: There always is. Arenberg is always a big part of the race, but I think the three sections after Arenberg are just as important; they're long, they're hard, the bunch ends up splitting a lot along those sections as well as the Arenberg.

13:55 CEST    131km/128km to go
De Jongh, Klier and Devolder exit the sector in front, with Devolder taking off his arm warmers and having a bite to eat. The bunch regroups, and it's maybe 80 riders strong, with more joining on.

The leaders are still powering along with Portal, Konyshev, Posthuma and Schreck taking strong turns. Konyshev (40) is enjoying it.

13:57 CEST   
Flat tyres for Matt White (Discovery) and Thomas Vaitkus (AG2R) as Marco Serpellini (Unibet.com) attacks the bunch, taking advantage of a lull in the peloton.

14:00 CEST    136km/123km to go
Henk Vogels (Davitamon) gets to the front with Steegmans, alongside the Quick.Step team. Tom Boonen is well placed now. They are approaching sector 21.

14:01 CEST   
Tom Steels (Davitamon) has abandoned after his earlier crash.

14:03 CEST   
Cyclingnews spoke to Matt White (Discovery Channel) to ask him his aims for today.

CN: I guess the plan is look after Leif Hoste and George Hincapie as much as possible before the Arenberg today?

MW: Yeah mate; especially for me, I think that's when my race will be over - a big group usually doesn't come back after that. We've got two guys we've got a lot of faith in and who can win today, so will look after them as long as possible.

CN: You've got a fair bit of experience in this race, so obviously that helps keeping your top guys up front?

MW: Experience is important no matter what the terrain, and I've been racing long enough to know how to look after the guys before the important sections. So I'm glad it's a dry day today - my first Paris-Roubaix was dry and the last three were wet; I much prefer the dry, that's for sure.

CN: Are you happy with your condition?

MW: Yeah, not too bad. I came here with not too much racing before I got up to Belgium, so it's been a pretty hectic last two, three weeks. The next job's the Giro, that's for sure.

14:04 CEST    138km/121km to go
The four chasers: Marco Righetto (Liquigas), Stephane Berges (Agritubel), Frank Hoj (Gerolsteiner) and Iker Flores (Euskaltel) look back and try to see where the peloton is. They have about 45 seconds gap still.

Meanwhile, the four front riders are racing through another treeless French field with 3'35 on the main peloton. They are on sector 21 at Verchain-Maugré. Schreck takes command at the front.

14:05 CEST   
Konyshev takes the grass option on the side of the road, and it's not a good option. He is off the back of the break. Ride the cobbles like a real man :-)

14:06 CEST   
Steegmans and Van Bon work on the front of the peloton, with Boonen the best placed of the favourites in fifth wheel.

The four chasers hit zone 21, and the peloton will be there soon.

14:07 CEST    139km/120km to go
The smaller riders bounce around as the bunch attacks zone 21, Steegmans still in front. They have pegged the gap back to 2'55, with the three counter attackers at 2'25.

14:08 CEST   
The bunch is in three parallel lines, one in the middle of the road, and one on each side. This sector is only 1.6 km long and rated with three stars.

14:09 CEST    141km/118km to go
The leaders are on sector 20: Quérénaing, a 2.5 km section also rated at three stars. Arenberg is another 20 km away...

14:11 CEST   
Konyshev has made it back to the break, and pedals a massive gear at the back. The cobbles will be starting to jar the riders now, making arms, hands and wrists sore.

The peloton is some 50 riders strong at the end of sector 21, before regrouping occurs and it expands again. Now it's on sector 20.

14:12 CEST   
Berges is caught by the peloton on the 20th sector.

14:13 CEST   
T-Mobile takes over on the front of the bunch on this 2.5 km long sector, catching Righetto next. That just leaves six in front:

Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile) and Dmitri Konyshev (LPR). Then Frank Hoj (Gerolsteiner) and Iker Flores (Euskaltel).

Flores is dropped by Hoj though. This counter attack is going nowhere fast.

14:15 CEST    145km/114km to go
Verstrepen gets a small gap over the peloton on sector 20, as a crash takes out Hammond and Mikhailov, both Discovery riders.

The leaders are on sector 19 at Maing.

14:15 CEST   
Hammond is chasing back on, and has regained the rear of the peloton. Meanwhile, Roesems has mechanical problems.

14:16 CEST   
Hoj and Flores are back together and are just about to be caught by Verstrepen and Pronk, who are ahead of the peloton.

14:19 CEST    146km/113km to go
Portal crashes and loses a bit of time to the three leaders as he fixes his right gear/brake lever, bashing it with his hand to straighten it. He's back with the break now.

14:21 CEST    148km/111km to go
T-Mobile makes the pace in the peloton, but it's more of a controlling tempo.

On the same corner that Portal crashed on, a Cofidis and Rabobank rider come down. Minard (Cofidis) has to wait for a new bike.

The gaps: 2'10 to Hoj's group and 2'40 to the bunch.

14:25 CEST    150km/109km to go
Hushovd is towards the rear of the peloton, being waited on by a teammate. Not sure what the problem is, maybe a flat. They still have time before Arenberg. The bunch is patrolled by six T-Mobile riders, with another one trying to get up to the front. There are also a couple of Davitamons up there.

The break maintains a 2'40 advantage, riding on the asphalt before the next sector at Haveluy.

14:27 CEST   
Pronk and Hoj are the only riders left in the chase group, as Verstrepen and Flores have been dropped. They are just 1'47 behind the four leaders, and a minute ahead of the bunch. The aim is to get to Arenberg with a bit of their lead intact.

Flores is caught.

14:28 CEST   
Aha, now some more Quick.Step jerseys appear in the front, alongside T-Mobile. The battle for position before Arenberg has started. Wesemann, Devolder and Hoste are up there, as is Steegmans.

14:29 CEST    154km/105km to go
Hushovd appears to be still at the back as the pace picks up. One rider almost goes the wrong way around a roundabout, but quickly realises that it's the really long way.

Now CSC marshalls their men on the front, and Vogels (Davitamon) is up there in second wheel.

14:31 CEST   
Verstrepen is caught by the bunch and the tension is evident on the faces of the riders. The next sector is at Haveluy (km 154), then Arenberg. The leaders are nearly at Haveluy, with 2'40 on the bunch.

14:33 CEST    155km/104km to go
The breakaway is a good place to be at the moment. The four in front can relax a bit before the upcoming sectors. Sure, they'll lose a lot of their lead, but at least they're unlikely to crash.

Quick.Step is massing at the front of the peloton, as expected.

Posthuma leads onto sector 18, with Schreck and Konyshev in tow. Portal is clinging on the back.

14:34 CEST    157km/102km to go
Hoj, who escaped at Troisvilles, and Pronk are almost back in the peloton as sector 18 approaches. Pronk looks like he's got a route map on his handlebars.

Crash: Siedler (Milram) and Murn (Phonak) go down, and are in pain. Siedler might have broken something.

14:35 CEST    158km/101km to go
Quick.Step leads the bunch at Haveluy. Van Petegem and Boonen are near the front, as is Hincapie.

Konyshev is dropped by the break, maybe for good?

14:38 CEST    159km/100km to go
The peloton is in a long line as De Jongh hammers on the front. Several LPR riders are dropped, as is Mazur. Eric Berthou is last wheel, struggling. Now he's struggling on his own against the cobbles.

Hincapie is up into fourth wheel, while Boonen sits in 8th. It's a very long line.

14:39 CEST    160km/99km to go
Matt White leads the bunch off the cobbles with Klier and De Jongh on his wheel.

Konyshev has made it back to the break, which has just 1'26 on the bunch now. Arenberg is next!

14:41 CEST    161km/98km to go
Konyshev signals to the others that he's goooone and doesn't really want to do any more work. He grabs a waterbottle.

The peloton strings out, thanks to White and Quick.Step. White just has to get his men to Arenberg, he told us. So he's giving it everything. Four Quick.Steps behind him, and Boonen and Hincapie.

14:42 CEST    162km/97km to go
The breakaways continue to roll along with the feared Arenberg Forest coming into view. It's 2.4 km, rated with five stars and very difficult. Even with the refurbishment. If you lose speed, you're history.

White, Nuyens and Zabel lead the bunch at 1'15 behind the break.

14:44 CEST    162.5km/96.5km to go
The leaders have just one minute of their gap left as they near the Arenberg. Less than half a click to go. Will they all survive until the end of it?

14:45 CEST    163km/96km to go
Nuyens has got the Quick.Step train going full throttle, with Davitamon also up there in the bunch.

The leaders are over the railway line, and are on the cobbles. Thousands of people line the road, creating an incredible atmosphere. It's downhill at the start too...

14:46 CEST   
Boonen himself is on the front as the bunch smashes its way onto the cobbles. Hincapie is on the world champion's wheel, but is struggling. Boonen can take the best line. Steegmans is in third wheel.

Konyshev has lost the break.

14:47 CEST    164km/95km to go
Konyshev is taken by the peloton, as Cancellara makes a break for it. He'll catch the leaders first. Boonen drops back into fifth wheel.

Cance is caught by Hincapie and the front of the peloton.

14:49 CEST    165km/94km to go
Posthuma, Portal and Schreck dangle just ahead of the peloton.

Cance leads the bunch with Hincapie, Boonen, Steegmans, Van Petegem all up front. There's a bit of damage being done here, with some 12 riders off the front.

Cancellara goes past Posthuma towards the finish of the zone. That was easy...

14:50 CEST   
The rest of the bunch reaches the end of the zone some 15 seconds behind the new lead break. Pozzato is in the second group, along with Hayman and Nuyens. Quick.Step has very few riders in the front group, surprisingly.

14:52 CEST   
The lead group: Van Petegem, Steegmans (Davitamon), Hincapie, Hoste (Discovery), Cancellara, Michaelsen (CSC), Boonen (Quick.Step), Wesemann, Klier, Schreck (T-Mobile), Guesdon (FDJ), Flecha, Posthuma (Rabobank), Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Franzoi (Lampre).

14:53 CEST   
Boonen has no teammates here, as Pozzato and Nuyens in a chase group of 25 some 30 seconds behind. So don't expect Boonen to do a lot of work.

Ballan is also in the front group for LAmpre.

14:58 CEST    173km/86km to go
The leaders hit sector 16 at Wallers, with a good half a minute on the chasers. Boonen sits towards the back.

Hushovd is dropped from the chase group. He's gone.

The group has a lot of two man combinations: Van Petegem, Steegmans (Davitamon), Hincapie, Gussev, Hoste (Discovery), Cancellara, Michaelsen (CSC), Boonen (Quick.Step), Wesemann, Schreck (T-Mobile), Guesdon, Eisel (FDJ), Posthuma, Flecha (Rabobank), Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Ballan, Franzoi (Lampre).

14:59 CEST   
Knaven tries to power the chase group, but it's 40 seconds to the leaders. No-one is going to help him, as most teams have a few riders in front. Roesems, Vogels and Van Bon sit behind him.

15:02 CEST    172km/87km to go
Now most of Quick.Step gets to the front of the chase group, with Knaven, De Jongh, Hulsmans, Pozzato and Cretskens driving it.

15:03 CEST    173km/86km to go
The chasers get to within 35 seconds, as Michaelsen and Cancellara get on the front of the lead group. As does Boonen, who does an easy turn. 30 seconds now.

Milram should be helping the chase too, as it doesn't have anyone up front.

15:04 CEST   
Van Impe does a massive turn behind, closing the gap to 28 seconds. They'll try to get Pozzato into the front group so that Boonen isn't isolated.

15:06 CEST    186km/73km to go
The leaders, meanwhile, are on sector 14, Warlaing to Brillon, a 2.4 km stretch of cobbles rated at 3 stars. Boonen sits in third wheel behind the two CSCs. Van Petegem in fourth.

15:07 CEST    178km/81km to go
This is definitely an interesting situation, as Boonen has been isolated from his teammates. He looks very strong today, but that is not enough when attack after attack goes.

Schreck, Portal and Posthuma are all dropped from the break, no surprises there.

15:09 CEST    188km/71km to go
Franzoi also goes off the back, as Cancellara powers the lead group. The chasers are within 27 seconds, but aren't able to close it. Portal is struggling to stay in contact. He might do it.

Posthuma and Schreck are caught by the chasers.

15:11 CEST    181km/78km to go
Cretskens is dropped from the chase group as Pozzato himself takes over. But the gap is 45 seconds.

Wesemann accelerates in the front group, and Boonen follows him. The group exits the zone and Flecha takes over the tempo making. Portal should get back on with the help of a few motorbikes. Yep. The Frenchman is back.

Hincapie is probably in the best position in the race.

15:13 CEST   
Quick.Step has given up the chase for the time being, and Vogels moves to the front of group 2 and checks out the damage. It's a pretty big group, but they're not racing now.

15:14 CEST    183km/76km to go
The gap goes up to a minute as a Unibet rider tries to get a chase going - Pronk again. Roesems marks him.

Knaven sits near the back of the chase group with Van Impe. Apart from Boonen, Quick.Step has underperformed today.

15:16 CEST    184km/75km to go
Gussev and Ballan now work in the front of the lead group, then Michaelsen and Hoste. Portal sits in last wheel, suffering a fair bit.

They are on sector 14: Warlaing. It's 2.4 km and rated three stars. Steegmans leads.

15:17 CEST   
Portal suffers to stay in contact, but he's there. The chase group/peloton is now at 1'27 and not coming back. The race will be decided from one of these 14 riders.

15:19 CEST    185km/74km to go
Thor Hushovd had a second puncture before, which cost him his position and he is no longer a contender.

The two FDJ boys, Guesdon (1997 winner) and Eisel are powering the lead group. Michaelsen is in third now.

15:21 CEST    187km/72km to go
They exit sector 14, with 14 riders still in the lead group: Van Petegem, Steegmans (Davitamon), Hincapie, Gussev, Hoste (Discovery), Cancellara, Michaelsen (CSC), Boonen (Quick.Step), Wesemann (T-Mobile), Guesdon, Eisel (FDJ), Flecha (Rabobank), Ballan (Lampre), Portal (Caisse d'Epargne).

The conditions are still perfectly dry, just a little dusty. Boonen will have to base his tactics on the other teams.

Flecha puts in an acceleration, and is marked by a Discovery rider.

Matt Wilson (Unibet) leads the chase group at 1'30.

15:23 CEST    188km/71km to go
Now they're on sector 13: Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières (the last one was sector 14, sorry). Hoste is in command, with Boonen on his wheel. The plucky Portal is still able to cling on to the back.

15:25 CEST    190km/69km to go
Michaelsen on the front, passing a boxing kangaroo flag for the Aussies in the race. No Aussies in front though. Flecha and Boonen in second and third. Boonen is riding a smart race, not doing any more than he has to.

15:26 CEST   
The 14 leaders exit sector 13 and Portal stretches himself as they get into the smooth road again. Boonen does a turn, fairly easy, talking to his DS.

15:30 CEST    193km/66km to go
Now it's a bit of a waiting game as the break sort of rolls around with no real intensity. With a 2'00 gap to the bunch, they can afford to relax. Flecha is doing some strong turns. The cooperation is fairly good though.

The leaders are at Beuvry-La-Foret, near sector 12 (Orchies).

15:32 CEST   
Ballan grabs a feed bag at the feed zone, as do most of the other riders. Eating at this stage is critical. You can empty the tank very quickly on the cobbles.

Guesdon is chasing back on after a flat.

15:34 CEST    196km/63km to go
Guesdon tells his DS to step on it as he motorpaces back on. No real drama there, as puncturing is a bit of bad luck.

15:35 CEST   
The pace is enough to keep the peloton at 2'00 as the leaders ride through Orchies. They're still averaging a good 43-44 km/h.

15:38 CEST    199km/60km to go
Milram is driving the bunch along now, 1'50 behind the lead group. But they appear to be racing for top 10, at best.

The leaders take the famous right hander onto the Orchies sector. Flecha on the front with Michaelsen and the ever present Boonen. Flecha goes pretty hard.

15:40 CEST   
Portal goes off the back again, but gets another moto to pace behind.

Michaelsen takes over in front, then Boonen and Wesemann. Hincapie in about fifth wheel. It's Discovery's race today: they have the numbers as they wished.

15:42 CEST    200km/59km to go
Michaelsen leads before Boonen takes a short turn at the end of the sector. Now they're on smooth roads. Van Petegem has been keeping very quiet today: Watch out for the 2003 winner...

Portal is back, with a little help.

15:44 CEST    202km/57km to go
The peloton has clawed its way back to 1'45, but it's a lost cause at the moment. The Davitamons slow it down again.

Steegmans and Hoste do turns over a bridge, then Guesdon. Flecha again with his hands draped over the tops of the bars.

15:46 CEST    204km/55km to go
Sector 11 is nigh: Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersée, 2.6 km rated at three stars. Milram is on the front of the peloton again, driving up the tempo. But there's a Davitamon "stopper" in second wheel, followed by a pair of Unibets.

Klier punctures in the bunch. It hasn't been the best of days for the German.

15:47 CEST    205km/54km to go
Pretty well all the favourites have made it into this front group, save for perhaps Pozzato and Hushovd. The gap was made at the Arenberg Forest, and that was it.

Michaelsen leads again onto sector 11. He seems to be putting it on the line for Cancellara today.

15:49 CEST    206km/53km to go
Steegmans takes a turn now. Boonen is always in the top five or six on the cobbles sections. When the attacks start, the tactics are going to be interesting. No-one should work with Boonen in a break unless they have no teammates behind.

15:50 CEST   
Now it's Wesemann on the front, pumping the pedals up and down and putting Portal in difficulty. Hincapie is in second last wheel.

Flecha attacks! He gets a gap. Boonen chases him - good idea. Flecha has no teammates.

15:52 CEST    208km/51km to go
That causes some concern in the break... They are all scrambling for Boonen's wheel. Cancellara is up there. Gussev leads the chase.

Wesemann has blown, it looks like. He's back with with Portal. What was Hincapie doing back there?

15:53 CEST    209km/50km to go
The group reforms, but Steegmans has to chase now. He's back on. Wesemann and Portal aren't.

15:55 CEST    210km/49km to go
Wesemann is back on as Eisel attacks next. Flecha and Gussev go with him. Van Petegem and Cancellara close the gap. No dice.

The lead group: Van Petegem, Steegmans (Davitamon), Hincapie, Gussev, Hoste (Discovery), Cancellara, Michaelsen (CSC), Boonen (Quick.Step), Guesdon, Eisel (FDJ), Flecha (Rabobank), Ballan (Lampre), Wesemann (T-Mobile).

15:58 CEST    212km/47km to go
Cancellara attacks coming into Mons-en-Pévèle, 3 km long. But no-one lets him go. Wesemann drops from second to sixth wheel.

Flecha attacks again, with Van Petegem getting his wheel. Then Ballan. Michaelsen is now in problems, but the group is hanging together.

Hello to Danish filmmaker Jorgen Leth, who is following us from Haiti.

16:00 CEST    214km/45km to go
Hincapie does an amazing move. His handlebars or stem or forks broke and he ended up in a ditch. He's out, for sure.

There's no waiting around. Flecha ups the tempo, then Boonen.

16:01 CEST    214km/45km to go
Boonen's acceleration has caused damage. Cancellara takes over, then Ballan. Van Petegem is up there. Four leaders. Cance nearly overcooks it exiting the sector, but survives.

16:04 CEST   
Chasing are Hoste, Gussev, Flecha, and Eisel. Then Wese and Steegmans, then Michaelsen and Portal.

16:05 CEST    217km/42km to go
The four leaders hit sector 9, Méringnies to Pont-à-Marcq. Boonen, Cancellara, Van Petegem and Ballan. But the chase group is coming back, led by Flecha. Eisel suffers, can't make it.

16:06 CEST   
The chasers struggle to return, but they do it. Lead group is now seven riders: Van Petegem (Davitamon), Cancellara (CSC), Ballan (Lampre), Boonen (Quick.Step), Gussev, Hoste (Discovery), Flecha (Rabobank).

16:07 CEST   
Eisel is chasing on his own, then Wesemann, Guesdon and Steegmans.

16:08 CEST    219km/40km to go
The peloton is 2'50 back now, led by Baden Cooke (Unibet). They might be able to pick up the others for a top 10. Maybe.

The leading seven take on food from team cars.

16:10 CEST    220km/39km to go
Sector hits: Pont-Thibaut to Ennevelin, 1.4 km rated at three stars.

Eisel is just off the back of the break, chasing through the cars. He's doing well, too as he eats a lot of dust.

16:12 CEST    222km/37km to go
Eisel is at 12 seconds, with Wesemann's trio at 40 seconds. No word on Hincapie, but he should be OK. He's effectively out of the race though.

16:14 CEST   
Eisel is back on the lead break, as Hoste, Van Petegem signal for their team cars. Ballan now does a turn. There are eight riders still in contention for Paris-Roubaix, and Discovery still has the advantage. But not as big as they had with Hincapie out.

16:17 CEST    225km/34km to go
Eisel does a turn now, then flicks his elbow for Hoste to come through. The next sector is an easy one, split into two at Templeuve.

Boonen is still in the best position to win this race, as he is by far the quickest sprinter.

16:18 CEST   
Boonen takes a turn on the Templeuve cobbles, with the others battling for his wheel. His World Champion's jersey is once again at the front of a race.

16:19 CEST    226km/33km to go
They finish the first half of the seventh sector, and Cance grabs a bidon from a soigneur on the side of the road.

Wesemann, Guesdon and Steegmans are nearly a minute behind, but still in contention for a top 10. That's definitely worth riding for.

16:21 CEST    228km/31km to go
The tempo is still reasonably high in the lead break, as none of them want anyone else to come back. All the eight are working, and the nearest chasers are already a minute behind. Boonen does another turn on the front, but it's not savage. He checks his bike.

16:23 CEST    229km/30km to go
Gussev is riding a great race today, one of the surprise packages given his form so far this year. He and Hoste are Discovery's two men in front, but can they use their numbers to advantage?

16:25 CEST    230km/29km to go
We now have a series of four tough sectors coming up, starting with Cysoing to Bourghelles in a few km. Then Bourghelles to Wannehain, Camphin-en Pévèle and Carrefour de l'Arbre.

Belgian television reports that it was Hincapie's fork steerer that broke before, forcing him to ride no hands on a cobbled sector...with the obvious result. It's bad luck for the American, who was looking great today.

16:27 CEST    232km/27km to go
Gussev lifts the tempo in the break as they approach Cysoing. Boonen takes over and powers.

No news on Hincapie's injuries: he did land on his right shoulder and was sitting in the grass, nursing it last time we saw.

16:28 CEST    232km/27km to go
Boonen sets a steady but hard tempo with Cancellara on his wheel. This sector 6 is 1.3 km long, but very rough. The break hangs together.

16:29 CEST    233km/26km to go
Now Boonen accelerates, and that causes problems. Ballan and Gussev crash into each other on the corner. Oops. Flecha avoids it by some miracle. Must have chainring marks in his back now!

16:31 CEST    234km/25km to go
Ballan makes it back on, very quickly. The group contains: Van Petegem (Davitamon), Cancellara (CSC), Ballan (Lampre), Boonen (Quick.Step), Hoste (Discovery), Flecha (Rabobank), Eisel (FDJ). The latter leads, then Flecha powers through.

16:31 CEST   
Gussev is coming back just as they reach sector five. Eight leaders again, but the Russian will struggle on this sector.

16:33 CEST    236km/23km to go
Van Petegem and Flecha now lead the group on the Bourghelles to Wannehain sector. Van Petegem looks great, as usual. He's in the right place at the right time.

Gussev gets to within 20 metres and blows. He'll try to regain them on the asphalt.

16:34 CEST    236km/23km to go
Hoste looks back and wonders where Gussev is. He's not. But he's trying.

16:35 CEST    237km/22km to go
Gussev has not lost a lot of time to the break, which numbers seven. Now it's all one rider from one team in front. That evens the score against Boonen.

16:37 CEST    239km/20km to go
Ballan, bearing a small wound on his left elbow from that crash, is having a good ride. He attacks with Flecha, and Van Petegem counters.

Hoste is annoyed, and wants his team car. Gussev is back!

16:38 CEST   
So now it's eight riders with 20 km to go. Flecha is looking very nervous, as he attacks coming onto Camphin-en Pévèle. Cancellara chooses the dirt for a bit, then gets back onto the cobbles. Gussev in last wheel.

16:40 CEST    241km/18km to go
The sector is 1.8 km long. Now Gussev does a powerful turn with PVP in second, then Ballan. Gussev opens up a small gap. Boonen goes past Flecha to get Ballan's wheel.

Cancellara attacks past Gussev. PVP leaves a gap and there are two in front.

16:41 CEST    242km/17km to go
The group hasn't reacted to Cancellara and Gussev's attack. It's a good 15 seconds. Now Flecha and Boonen go after them. Hoste too. The six chasers are still together.

16:42 CEST    242km/17km to go
Cancellara leads all the way, as Hoste slows things up behind. The Carrefour de l'Arbre approaches. They're on it!

16:42 CEST   
Ballan leads the chasers behind Cancellara and Gussev on the 2.1 km Carrefour de l'Arbre. This is one of the worst sectors of cobbles.

16:43 CEST   
Ballan, Van Petegem and Boonen are the front three in the chase group, but Cancellara is driving it hard in front. 20 seconds! Gussev hangs on for grim death. Could these two steal Paris-Roubaix? It's looking good.

16:44 CEST   
Van Petegem accelerates as Cancellara drops Gussev. The Russian tries to limit the damage.

16:46 CEST    245km/14km to go
Cancellara is the lone leader now, and the big Swiss motor is hammering over the cobbles of Carrefour de l'Arbre. He's finished the zone, and heads towards Gruson, sector 3. He hits them now. Gussev at 9 seconds.

16:46 CEST   
Hoste accelerates on the Gruson sector, gapping Boonen. He could get up to Gussev.

16:48 CEST    246km/13km to go
Van Petegem and Hoste are chasing Gussev, while Ballan, Boonen and Flecha hang about 5 seconds off the back. It's not Boonen's day today, it looks like. Unless it all miraculously comes together.

Cancellara knows he can win today. He drives it on the smooth road.

16:49 CEST   
Boonen and Flecha do their best to catch Ballan, but Hoste, Van Petegem and Gussev are now together at 30 seconds behind the leader.

16:50 CEST    248km/11km to go
Fabian Cancellara (CSC) looks to be the man today, but he's got three very determined chasers in Hoste, Van Petegem and Gussev. Then Ballan alone, then Flecha and Boonen. But the world champ is 40 seconds behind Cance.

Cancellara is not looking back. He is very close to a victory.

16:52 CEST    249km/10km to go
Fabian Cancellara has just two cobbled sectors to go as he increases his gap to 31 seconds over the three behind him. He will not be caught, unless he has a disaster. Flecha, Ballan and Boonen are giving it full gas to try to catch the three in front. 10 seconds is hard to close at 50 km/h.

16:53 CEST   
Hoste's group is 32 seconds behind the leader, as Boonen's group is stopped by a train!! Oh dear. That's the end of their race.

16:53 CEST   
Boonen's trio is back again, with a 30 second penalty. It's over for them. Hoste's group only just got through...

16:54 CEST    250km/9km to go
You could hear the disappointment in the velodrome when Boonen's group was stopped by the train. Well, that's bike racing.

Cance now has 40 seconds on the three behind, then 1'12 to the Boonen group.

16:55 CEST    251km/8km to go
Cancellara hits the cobbles in Hem with 40 seconds. He just needs to have no mechanicals, and he's home and hosed. PVP, Gussev and Hoste are driving the chasers, and are now on sector 2 as well. Cance opts for the right hand side, which is smooth. He's suffering, but he's in the lead.

16:57 CEST    252km/7km to go
PVP, Gussev and Hoste avoid the holes on the Hem sector, as Boonen tries to get his chase group closer to the three in front. No chance at this stage of the proceedings.

16:58 CEST    253km/6km to go
Cancellara has finished the second sector and has now got 45 seconds on the chasers as he's urged on by his director. He's got sunshine all the way to Roubaix.

17:00 CEST    254km/5km to go
Cance rides well against the clock, and although he's in a great deal of pain, he's increasing the gap to his pursuers. The Discovery boys are guaranteed a podium place or two, but it's not the one they wanted. Boonen clearly didn't have it today. Last weekend was a very tough race. Hoste has recovered better though.

17:01 CEST   
Guesdon punctures from a long way back. He might still get 10th though.

17:02 CEST    255.5km/3.5km to go
Fabian Cancellara powers along over the final kilometres of Paris-Roubaix, covered in dust and getting everything he can out of his body to reach the velodrome in first place. He's nearly there. Less than 4 km, and he has 51 seconds.

17:03 CEST    256km/3km to go
Cance is now at 3km to go, and keeping the tempo up over 50km/h. The other three can't get him, and it's a battle for second. PVP, Hoste or Gussev? Boonen's group is 1'30 behind Cancellara. They're chasing hard, but they don't have the gas.

17:04 CEST   
Gussev attacks the break first, annoying Van Petegem, who looks back at Hoste of course. Hoste must counter, surely?

17:04 CEST    257km/2km to go
Cancellara is in the final straight before the velodrome, over the final set of cobbles. He gets a huge cheer!

17:05 CEST    258km/1km to go
Cancellara enters the velodrome to a massive cheer from the crowd. He's done it!

17:06 CEST   
The Swiss CSC rider takes the blue duckboards as he gets the bell for one lap to go. He will win this by a minute. What a ride by Fabian Cancellara!

17:06 CEST    259km/0km to go
Cancellara celebrates from 150m out. He finally eases off the pedals, blows kisses to the crowd, and gives a huge victory salute. Fantastic ride!!!

17:08 CEST   
The sprint for second sees Van Petegem sit in second wheel behind Gussev. He goes up the track...takes the lead, then dives first but Hoste is too good and Van Petegem is second.

17:08 CEST   
The sprint for fifth is taken by Tom Boonen of course, from Ballan and Flecha at 1'51.

17:11 CEST   
Eisel rolls across for eighth - nice ride by the Austrian.

Boonen will keep the ProTour jersey, scoring another 25 points today. Hoste should be up to second.

17:23 CEST   
And so finishes the 104th edition of Paris-Roubaix, another very tough version of the Hell of the North. The strongest rider won: Fabian Cancellara, and what a fine ride it was by the Swiss rider. You have to go back to 1923 (Henri Suter) to find the last Swiss winner of this race.

That's all from us in the blimp. Thanks to the Prince, and thanks to you for following us today! We'll be back for the Amstel Gold Race next Sunday.

17:26 CEST   
There has been a sensational change to the results! Leif Hoste, Vladimir Gussev and Peter van Petegem have *all* been disqualified for going through that level crossing in the last 10 km. That means Tom Boonen is actually second today, with Ballan third. Remarkable!


1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) CSC             6.07.54
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step                1.51
3 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
4 Juan-Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
5 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Française des Jeux    3.24
6 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile
7 Frederic Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux
8 Bert Roesems (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
9 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Française des Jeux
10 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis

(Hoste, Van Petegem and Gussev were disqualified
for not waiting for a train crossing)