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105th Paris-Roubaix - PT

France, April 15, 2007

Live report

Live commentary by By Hedwig Kröner

This Sunday Cyclingnews will be covering the 105th Paris-Roubaix live. Coverage begins around 10:30 local European time (CEST)/ 4:30 (USA East)/ 19:30 Australia (EST) - also on WAP-enabled mobile devices at http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/

10:31 CEST   
Hello all you cycling lovers around the world, and welcome back to Cyclingnews Live coverage, this time coming to you from the Hell of Northern France! A beautiful day has dawned upon us, with bright clear skies and very mild temperatures here at the start of the 105th Paris-Roubaix. The riders have gathered on the Place du Palais to sign in, and "the voice" of the Tour de France, speaker Daniel Mangeas, presents them one by one to the crowd in front of the podium.

As many of you know by now, today's "Queen of the Classics" will be raced under unusual weather conditions, with temperatures predicted to reach 27° Celsius in the afternoon - the last time this happened in France during the month of April was in 1949... There won't be any wind to break the field up, either, so the race could unfold in a quite tactical way. Instead of rain and mud, it will thus be the heat and the dust that will make this year's Paris-Roubaix a special one.

10:45 CEST   
If everything goes as planned, the riders will kick off the race through Hell at 10.50, with the official start scheduled for 11.00am. 259 kilometres, of which 52,7 cobbled, await the riders. There are 28 pavé sections that will make the peloton's life miserable on the road to Roubaix, and nine railway crossings which could also slow it down...

It feels like a morning of the Tour de France here in Compiègne; spectators abound and the air smells like a summer's breeze instead of the usual grey "spring" humidity so typical for Northern France.

10:59 CEST   
For a detailed breakdown of the 28 dreaded cobblestone sectors, follow Ben Atkins from CN, who set off with camera, notepad and bicycle to provide you with a precise rundown of the nasty rocks that make up the myth of this race.

While waiting for the race action, you can also take a look at some of the interviews Cyclingnews has done these last few days. Brecht Decaluwé spoke to Steffen Wesemann, who is going for Roubaix glory, as well as with Leif Hoste, who has spent Saturday in a very calm mood and wondered, is that good or not?

Bernhard Eisel of T-Mobile told Gregor Brown that his team had a lot of possibilities at the race, and CSC's Stuart O'Grady revealed that contrary to public opinion, there were never big surprises in Paris-Roubaix.

11:07 CEST   
Four kilometres away from the Place du Palais, the riders have strolled through the streets of this beautiful old town, getting massive applause from the crowds. All of the announced riders having taken the start, the bunch is 187 riders strong, and all of them are eager to shine in one of the greatest one-day races in the world.

It's already 23° warm this morning... And the flag has been lowered to signal the official departure of the race! Let's see what the 105th edition of Paris-Roubaix has up its sleeve for us.

11:10 CEST   
An early attack: It's Anthony Ravard (Agritubel) who is the first to take his chances. Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval) joins him. They have small gap. But the bunch is not willing to let them go this early. At km 5, it's peloton groupé again.

11:17 CEST   
Stéphane Poulhies (AG2R) and Hans Dekkers (Agritubel) now try to get away, as did Mathieu Heijboer (Cofidis) and Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues) just minutes ago, but no luck. The race is fast already, and all breakaway attempts are bound to fail.

11:22 CEST    15km/244.5km to go
A short update on the anti-doping front: 38 riders of Saunier Duval, Gerolsteiner, Euskaltel, Skil-Shimano and Wiesenhof Felt received a visit of the so-called 'UCI vampires' this morning. But all were declared fit to start.

Mathieu Claude (Bouygues) and Albert Timmer (Skil), followed by Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) and René Mandri (AG2R)had a six seconds gap at km 12, but they, too, were swallowed by the bunch two kilometres later.

11:31 CEST   
Now it's Sébastien Chavanel (Francaise des Jeux) and Eric Berthou (Caisse d'Epargne) who have made a move. Some chasers wanted to bridge up to them, but only led the bunch out to catch them again. It looks like it's going to take a while before a group breaks clear...

11:42 CEST    29km/230.5km to go
The bunch is still riding together through the blossoming countryside. This could be a perfect day out, if there weren't the honours of a Spring Classics Monument at stake, making the riders nervous as they are heading for the dusty cobbles. Still, this looks much more enjoyable under sunny sky!

Along the parcours, it's party time as many visitors have parked their RV's at their favourite spots since yesterday. The beer will flow...

11:47 CEST   
A group of about 30 riders has emerged off the front of the peloton. They have 15 seconds.

Alessandro Ballan, winner of the Tour of Flanders one week ago, explained to L'Equipe that he might have some trouble with the dust whirled up on the cobblestone sectors. This will decrease the visibility for all riders, but as the Italian wears contact lenses, it might be especially difficult for him. "I will keep my glasses in the team car, in case I don't support the lenses during the race," he said. They should be disposable ones, come to think of it...

11:47 CEST   
A group of about 30 riders has emerged off the front of the peloton. They have 15 seconds.

Alessandro Ballan, winner of the Tour of Flanders one week ago, explained to L'Equipe that he might have some trouble with the dust whirled up on the cobblestone sectors. This will decrease the visibility for all riders, but as the Italian wears contact lenses, it might be especially difficult for him. "I will keep my glasses in the team car, in case I don't support the lenses during the race," he said. They should be disposable ones, come to think of it...

11:54 CEST    35km/224.5km to go
The front group now has 50 seconds: It's Breschel, O’Grady, Roberts (CSC), Tosatto, Van Impe (Quick-Step), Franzoi (Lampre), De Groot (Rabobank), Auger (FDJ), B. Grabsch, Hammond, Klier (T-Mobile), Steels, Van Avermaet (Predictor), Valentin (Cofidis), R. Grabsch (Milram), Bacquet, Lhotellerie (Skil), Putsep (Bouygues), Bileka (Discovery), Petito, Willems (Liquigas), Portal, Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne), Fothen, Kopp, Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Dean (Crédit Agricole), Poulhies, Rousseau (AG2R), Iriondo (Euskaltel), Gajek, and Pollack (Wiesenhof).

This could be it!

11:56 CEST   
Goesinnen (Skil) bridged up to the breakaway, while Fothen has been dropped.

12:02 CEST    45km/214.5km to go
We have a first rider to abandon: Francisco Ventoso (Saunier) crashed a little earlier in the race, and has now decided to drop out.

The breakaway is official - the group of 32 riders is now 3 minutes clear. It's a nice little group, in which all the teams are represented. Still, the favourites should watch out, as one of these guys could be dangerous, too!

12:07 CEST   
Errata: Engoulvent of Crédit Agricole is also in the break, while Wiesenhof's Gajek didn't make it. The full composition of the group is thus:

Breschel, O’Grady, Roberts (CSC), Tosatto, Van Impe (Quick-Step), Franzoi (Lampre), De Groot (Rabobank), Auger (FDJ), B. Grabsch, Hammond, Klier (T-Mobile), Steels, Van Avermaet (Predictor), Valentin (Cofidis), R. Grabsch (Milram), Bacquet, Lhotellerie, Goesinnen (Skil), Putsep (Bouygues), Bileka (Discovery), Petito, Willems (Liquigas), Portal, Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne), Kopp, Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Dean, Engoulvent (Crédit Agricole), Poulhies, Rousseau (AG2R), Iriondo (Euskaltel), Pollack (Wiesenhof).

12:12 CEST   
Wiesenhof's Olaf Pollack also has another teammate with him: Robert Wagner. They are thus 33 riders in front. Sorry about the confusion, but with such a big group, it can take a while to figure out who they are!

12:18 CEST    60km/199.5km to go
47.5 kilometres have been raced in the first hour.

Teams CSC and T-Mobile are particularly well-represented in this lead group, with Stuart O'Grady enjoying the support of two teammates, and a very fit and experienced Roger Hammond accompanied by Classics specialist Andreas Klier, as well as Bert Grabsch. Predictor's Tom Steels may also play his cards out, and Lampre's Enrico Franzoi, three times Italian Cyclo-Cross champion, has enough skills to make it happen, too.

12:21 CEST   
Mikhailov (Astana) was sent up the road by his directeur sportif earlier, and has joined the breakaway now. Good move.

Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), winner of this week's Gent-Wevelgem, was involved in a crash, but is now back in the bunch - doesn't look hurt.

12:39 CEST    73km/186.5km to go
The gap is being kept stable by the bunch, currently 2.50 minutes back. Ballan, Boonen et al. had better watch out, as O'Grady and Hammond clearly are contenders for the final victory if they are given too much of a lead!

12:50 CEST   
We have news on Marcus Burghardt, who crashed earlier in the race: According to his directeur sportif, the German only has a bit of skin scraped off his shoulder, and will be able to continue the race. "He hasn't really hurt himself, we treated him for a couple of minutes and his said he felt himself able to continue without problems," Tristan Hoffman explained. "We're very happy to have three riders in front, as this was one of the objectives for today. Moreover, Hammond feels very much in form..."

12:55 CEST    84km/175.5km to go
CSC's director Alain Gallopin also said that the current race situation looked very promising for the Danish team. "In any case, I note that all the big teams have placed riders in this break, so for the moment we will follow this move. It certainly looks very good for us, even if it wasn't Stuart O'Grady among our three riders in front!"

The lead group now has an advantage of 3.15 minutes. In about 12 kilometres, they will hit the first of the 28 cobblestone sections: Troisvilles to Inchy, 2,2 km long.

13:03 CEST   
Alessandro Ballan's team Lampre has reacted now. They're pacing in front of the bunch to reduce the gap a bit, which has grown to 3.25 minutes.

The winner of the Tour of Flanders was happy he didn't take part in Gent-Wevelgem this week. "After all the congratulations I worked further on my form back home," Ballan told Cyclingnews at the start this morning, looking lean and ready for another feat!

13:07 CEST   
Filip Meirhaeghe - the former MTB world champion - also talked to Cyclingnews this morning in Compiègne and predicted a fast start. "I wouldn't be surprised if we ride more than 50 km during the first hour," Meirhaeghe said. "The first heat is always hard but I should go fine. I think Paris-Roubaix is 50 percent form and 50 percent luck. The (Arenberg) forest is all important, actually that is the end of it, because if you're not in front there you can forget about the win."

13:12 CEST   
This season, Marcus Burghardt proved his a pure talent in the Spring Classics, he should do well on the cobbles although the distance might be a problem. "This is a new situation for me but I'm happy to be regarded as a favourite. I'll need a lot of luck but I'll try to follow the best riders, that is Boonen and Cancellara," he said.

Liquigas' Filippo Pozzato commented: "I'm good but not super. This week I felt a little better maybe it will be enough? Paris-Roubaix is war, a fight from man to man, far away from glamour and glitter." The stylish Italian might find out that this is not his cup of tea...

The bunch has arrived on the first cobble section of today, four minutes behind the leaders. In the breakaway, Andreas Klier (T-Mobile) punctured on the pavés but got a quick wheel change and is still in the group.

13:18 CEST   
"The weather is beautiful, we will see, it will be a good race," said Italian Angelo Furlan (Crédit Agricole) at the start in Compiègne. "I think that there will some riders going into the red became of the heat, and this is strange for Roubaix, which is normally colder.

"I am here to help Thor Hushovd and that's it," he confirmed when asked of his form. "This year my legs are going really well, already with two wins, which almost could have been four but I have missed out by two centimetres. I am very content for this new life for me in France.

"The favourites for today will be Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen and Alessandro Ballan," he added.

His teammate Laszlo Bodrogi, as well as Gert Steegmans (Quickstep) also punctured.

13:19 CEST   
Another puncture in the lead group: it's Luke Roberts (CSC). He gets a rear wheel change.

13:24 CEST   
Andreas Klier, as well as Nicolas Portal and Fabien Bacquet are slowly getting dropped by the leaders. The tempo is high... Too bad for T-Mobile, they might be losing an important helper for Hammond.

The gap is still over four minutes, 4.10 to be exact. Looks like Lampre's chase isn't working, or maybe they are still waiting a bit before the crucial difficulties of the day begin.

13:28 CEST   
This morning, Discovery Channel's Steven Cummings talked to Cyclingnews about his feelings in view of Paris-Roubaix. "I'm still carrying bruises as souvenir from the 3-days of De Panne-Koksijde. This is my first Paris-Roubaix but I did race on a few pavé'd sections before. The Forest of Arenberg was hard."

We also asked his teammate Matthew White how he was going before the race. "Well, I'm still in one piece," the Australian rider said, referring to Gent-Wevelgem. "They should take the Kemmelberg out, it would still make a hard race. Do we have to wait until someone dies? It's just like we waited to wear helmets until Kivilev died," he commented on the many crashes that occurred in the descent of the famous 'Kemmel'.

13:34 CEST    115km/144.5km to go
While the bunch is now on the sector #25, Saint-Python, T-Mobile's Roger Hammond has re-joined the breakaway after a mechanical. Still, that chasing must have cost him some forces.

The gap is still growing: 4.30 minutes now. That escape group is working well together!

13:38 CEST   
Saunier Duval's Jesus Del Nero did well in Flanders but wasn't confident for Paris-Roubaix this morning. "There are more cobbles here, actually there are *too many* cobbles. Our leaders are Ventoso, Belohvosciks and myself," he told Cyclingnews.

Ventoso abandoned after 37km, he was spotted by our man at the start spraying products on his taped wrist. His teammate 'Litu' or Ángel Gómez Gómez explained that his teammate had crashed in Gent-Wevelgem, after leading the peloton over the Kemmelberg twice, finishing fourth at the line.

At the feed zone, the leader's advantage has grown to more than five minutes. This is starting to get really dangerous for the favourites back in the bunch.

13:49 CEST   
The lead group has definitely lost Andreas Klier, as well as Luke Roberts (both T-Mobile and CSC are one man down), Nicolas Portal and Fabien Bacquet.

There are thus 30 riders still in the front: Breschel, O’Grady (CSC), Tosatto, Van Impe (Quick-Step), Franzoi (Lampre), De Groot (Rabobank), Auger (FDJ), B. Grabsch, Hammond (T-Mobile), Steels, Van Avermaet (Predictor), Valentin (Cofidis), R. Grabsch (Milram), Lhotellerie, Goesinnen (Skil), Putsep (Bouygues), Bileka (Discovery), Petito, Willems (Liquigas), Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne), Kopp, Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Dean, Engoulvent (Crédit Agricole), Poulhies, Rousseau (AG2R), Iriondo (Euskaltel), Pollack, Wagner (Wiesenhof), Mikhailov (Astana).

13:57 CEST    140km/119.5km to go
Bert long shanks Roesems (Predictor) predicted the same race like the Ronde van Vlaanderen. "The whole team wants to ride strong again. The main thing is to be in front in the forest (of Arenberg) because if you look to the top-10 from last year, then you see they are the same guys who were in front in the forest."

The breakaway is now on sector #22, Verchain-Maugré to Quérénaing, only 22 kilometres to go before the Arenberg forest. Now, what does this mean for the outcome of the race?

The gap has decreased a bit to 4.40 minutes.

13:59 CEST   
In the bunch, Aaron Kemps (Astana) crashed, but didn't hurt himself and immediately got on his bike again. The peloton is led by Lampre and AG2R riders, but they don't seem to chase flat out.

14:07 CEST   
Pozzato punctured, and is chasing back up to the bunch now.

Andreas Klier (T-Mobile), who got dropped out of the lead group earlier, still hasn't been caught; he's sandwiched in between the two groups at 2.50 off the break.

Still not one cloud in the sky, as the peloton enters sector 22. It *is* dusty!

14:12 CEST   
Klier is finally caught; he sat up. Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne) is the next to puncture. He's on his own now, trying to chase back on the bunch within the team cars.

Off the front of the race, Ralf Grabsch (Milram) has attacked.

14:16 CEST    145.5km/114km to go
Grabsch has 20 seconds over the chase group, and 4.30 over the bunch. In 10 kilometres, he will hit the famous Tranchée d'Arenberg, a crucial point in the race.

14:21 CEST   
In the 29-men group, it's the four riders from T-Mobile and CSC who are leading the chase. Bad luck for Laszlo Bodrogi and Jimmy Engoulvent: they just punctured on the cobbles, and are now left to themselves.

Grabsch is able to extend his lead to 50 seconds. The peloton is over five minutes back.

14:27 CEST    152.5km/107km to go
Grabsch is looking strong, he's forcing a big gear. Behind, QuickStep, Predictor and Discovery Channel riders are leading the peloton, but they're not really chasing, just keeping the gap around five minutes.

14:29 CEST   
Peter van Petegem is holding on to his team car while a mechanic is fixing something on his bike.

14:35 CEST   
Grabsch is now getting the vibrations of the sector #19, from Haveluy to Wallers, the pavé stretch preceding the Arenberg forest. He's riding on the right hand side of the path, on the dry earth which provides a bit of a smoother surface.

14:41 CEST   
Wouter Weylandt (Quickstep) is also the victim of a puncture in the peloton. He has to chase back on now. If Quickstep thinks they can make it come down to a sprint today, he will not be at a 100 percent to help Tom Boonen...

Just ahead of the Arenberg sector, the situation is unchanged: Grabsch leads with 5 minutes over the bunch, and 1.25 minutes over the chase group.

14:46 CEST   
Grabsch has entered the Arenberg sector! The spectators abound here, and cheer him on. This sector is particularly difficult, the cobbles are very uneven.

14:49 CEST   
Now, the bunch is also there. It seems they're picking up the pace now. Crash in the bunch! Two AG2R, three Predictor riders are trying to pick their bikes up or get new ones.

Grabsch has left the section.

14:51 CEST   
Boonen leads the bunch over the Arenberg section, with Michaelsen (CSC) on his wheel, while O'Grady gets dropped from the chase group.

The sector is over now, and has created some damage.

14:53 CEST   
The gap to the leader has sunk to 2.50 minutes. The chasers are at one minute behind Grabsch. This sector held its promises and finally got things moving!

14:57 CEST   
Boonen led a group of about 25 riders out of Arenberg, accompanied by Van Petegem and other favourites such as Ballan, Bäckstedt, Flecha, Hoste. Cancellara has just joined this group, after having punctured. They're 2.35 from the leader now - all set.

14:59 CEST    174.5km/85km to go
Grabsch will be caught soon, he is already sitting up.

15:04 CEST   
We haven't seen the riders open their jersey often in Paris-Roubaix... It's hot today.

David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) is the first to make contact with Grabsch, and he jumps right away.

15:06 CEST    177.5km/82km to go
Tom Steels gets a front wheel change by the Mavic neutral car, while Kopp is now leading the race on sector 16.

The current race situation is:

  • David Kopp (Gerolsteiner)
  • Ralf Grabsch (Milram), Breschel, O’Grady (CSC), Tosatto, Van Impe (Quick-Step), Franzoi (Lampre), De Groot (Rabobank), Auger (FDJ), B. Grabsch, Hammond (T-Mobile), Steels, Van Avermaet (Predictor), Valentin (Cofidis), Lhotellerie, Goesinnen (Skil), Putsep (Bouygues), Bileka (Discovery), Petito, Willems (Liquigas), Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne), Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Dean, Engoulvent (Crédit Agricole), Poulhies, Rousseau (AG2R), Iriondo (Euskaltel), Pollack, Wagner (Wiesenhof), Mikhailov (Astana) at 0.10
  • Favourites' group with Boonen, Ballan, Cancellara etc. at 2.55

15:14 CEST    183.5km/76km to go
The favourites' bunch of about 35 riders is strung out now. They're 1.45 minutes away from the leader. O'Grady is there, too, while Hushovd just got dropped.

15:17 CEST   
Bäckstedt punctured, too. His mechanic gives him a big push after changing his front wheel.

The favourites are now in sector 15. Hushovd has made it back to the group.

15:23 CEST    187.5km/72km to go
Kopp has been caught by the chasers, so we have two groups again.

Predictor riders are leading the bunch out, while Gregory Rast (Astana) punctures. All the favourites have at least four or five teammates with them.

15:26 CEST   
The gap is closing down on the leaders: 1.10 now, while the bunch is torn apart under the incredible pace of the Predictor riders. Leif Hoste has put in an attack now, taking Lars Michaelsen (CSC) with him in his wheel, and they're passing dropped-off breakaway riders now.

15:26 CEST   
The gap is closing down on the leaders: 1.10 now, while the bunch is torn apart under the incredible pace of the Predictor riders. Leif Hoste has put in an attack now, taking Lars Michaelsen (CSC) with him in his wheel, and they're passing dropped-off breakaway riders now.

15:30 CEST   
Boonen and the others came back on Hoste and Michaelsen at the end of sector 14. The real race has started!

15:33 CEST    194.5km/65km to go
O'Grady, Cancellara, Burghardt, Ballan, Boonen, Steels, Hoste, Hammond are all there together amongst others, at 45 seconds off the front.

15:35 CEST   
CSC's Michaelsen is giving it everything today, too. It's his last race as a pro... He's leading the bunch out now, working for Cancellara.

15:40 CEST    199.5km/60km to go
There are only 40 seconds left for the leaders. They're getting nervous, and a Liquigas rider is trying to get away. Now it's Kopp who attacks again.

Vansummeren crashed! He's standing up, but in pain. His left leg seems hurt.

15:44 CEST   
Three riders broke clear: Kopp, Van Impe and Pollack have a gap over the chasers, which are about 15 riders strong.

The bunch is on the Orchies sector, whirling some dust into the air.

15:48 CEST    203.5km/56km to go
The favourites' group accelerated again in the Orchies sector, and dropped off some riders. There are about 18 men left with Boonen and the others. They are racing at one minute behind the leaders. The trio of Kopp, Van Impe and Pollack have 15 seconds over the chase group.

Pozzato is one of the riders who just got dropped off the favourites' group. Lars Michaelsen puts in another attack...

15:51 CEST   
Rosseler, Leukemans and Flecha are chasing Michaelsen down; they've caught him at the entrance to the sector #11.

15:57 CEST    211.5km/48km to go
Kopp (Gerolsteiner), Van Impe (Quickstep), Pollack (Wiesehhof) still have 50 seconds on the favourites's group led by Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Lars Michaelsen (CSC), Sebastien Rosseler (Quickstep) and Björn Leukemans (Predictor).

16:05 CEST   
Behind the leading trio, there are seven riders with Michaelsen now, followed by another 11 men-group before the favourites. All of these are within 1.35 of each other, as they have left behind sector #10.

16:10 CEST    219.5km/40km to go
The next cobble section has again changed the face of the race: Petito (Liquigas), Flecha (Rabobank), Michaelsen and Breschel (CSC), Leukemans (Predictor), Grabsch (Milram), Franzoi (Lampre) are 32 seconds behind the leading trio, with the favourites' group 1.24 minutes off the front.

16:13 CEST   
Pollack got dropped, they are now two riders leading the race: Kopp (Gerolsteiner) and Van Impe (Quickstep). But the chasers are putting some pressure on the pedals at sector #8, which is again very dusty.

16:16 CEST   
Imagine a 20-men sprint in the velodrome... what would that be like? We might see it in a while... It could come down to that if nobody puts down the hammer soon.

16:19 CEST    225.5km/34km to go
T-Mobile is leading the favourites' group with three men now. They're about 25 riders, at 1.10 minutes behind the leaders. Preparing for the next cobblestone section in Templeuve. They pass a huge ancient windmill.

16:22 CEST   
Wesemann attacks out of the favourites' group! The Wiesenhof rider powers away over the cobbles.

16:26 CEST    229.5km/30km to go
Boonen leads the chase, with Burghardt, Hoste, Baldato, Devolder. They've dropped Cancellara. This could be a decisive moment!

16:30 CEST   
Boonen throws in another attack to test his rivals. He gets a gap as he enters the pavé sector of Cysoing.

Current race situation

  • Kopp (Gerolsteiner), Van Impe (Quickstep)
  • Pollack (Wiesenhof), Petito (Liquigas), Flecha (Rabobank), Michaelsen and Breschel (CSC), Leukemans (Predictor), Grabsch (Milram), Franzoi (Lampre) at 0.17
  • Boonen (Quickstep), Baldato (Lampre), Devolder (Discovery), Burghardt (T-Mobile), Hoste (Predictor), Scheirlinckx (Cofidis)
  • Favourites' group at 1.13

16:36 CEST   
The group around Stuart O'Grady just caught Kopp (Gerolsteiner), Van Impe (Quickstep), and the Australian countered! O'Grady leads the race now!

Behind, Devolder attacks out of the group around Boonen, he has 30 metres now.

16:38 CEST    238.5km/21km to go
O'Grady looks good; incredible as he's been in the break all day. Wesemann, Flecha, Hammond (9 riders) are behind him, but O'Grady has 25 seconds.

Boonen, Hoste, Burghardt etc. don't get on. They are still one minute behind.

16:43 CEST   
O'Grady leaves sector #5 behind him. He has 51 seconds over the Flecha group, and 1.35 over the Boonen group! Amazing!!

16:45 CEST    242.5km/17km to go
Boonen leads his group, with Hoste right behind him. It looks like they've missed the right train... and with no teammates left in his group, his chase looks bad.

16:49 CEST    244.5km/15km to go
The crowds are huuuge, bordering the pavé section #4, the Carrefour de l'Arbre. O'Grady powers away like hell, while his teammate Michaelsen in the back crashes in a curve. Doesn't look too bad though.

16:53 CEST    246.5km/13km to go
Tom Boonen attacks again and drops his companions. He passes Michaelsen. There is still 40 seconds between him and the chase group of Flecha, Leukemans, Wesemann and Petito. He's bridged up to Franzoi and Hammond now.

16:56 CEST    249.5km/10km to go
56 seconds for O'Grady! This could really be it, if he holds this pace until the velodrome!! This is what the race looks like with 10k to go: Stuart O'Grady (CSC) leads, with Petito (Liquigas), Flecha (Rabobank), Leukemans (Predictor), Wesemann (Wiesenhof) chasing at 0.56, and Boonen (Quickstep) Franzoi (Lampre), Hammond (T-Mobile) behind at 1.26.

16:58 CEST    252.5km/7km to go
O'Grady is on the penultimate pavé sector. Allez, allez! He has one minute over his chasers. Let's hope he stays lucky until the end...

17:01 CEST    254.5km/5km to go
O'Grady gets a last bidon from his team car. That'll get him a fine, but who cares!!

The four chasers start looking at each other. Two podium places are at stake.

17:04 CEST    256.5km/3km to go
The Australian has dust all over his body and face, but still pedals well - and he has a little grin on his face despite the pain. These last few minutes of this race will always remain in his memory. What a win!

17:06 CEST   
The Boonen group can see the chase group now. They might catch them yet, but Flecha et al. have seen them coming now and put in an extra effort.

17:07 CEST   
O'Grady is on the very last cobblestone sector in Roubaix. 1.5 km to go! And he gets a huge cheer from the crowd.

17:07 CEST   
He's in the velodrome now. Applause!!

17:08 CEST   
He rides the last lap.. and throws his hands into the air. Stuart O'Grady wins Paris-Roubaix!!!

17:10 CEST   
Leukemans leads Flecha and Petito in the velodrome. Flecha starts the sprint, with Wesemann trying to come round him. But Flecha takes second, with Wesemann third and Leukemans, Petito and Boonen behind in that order.

17:11 CEST   
Cancellara and Michaelsen lead the next group inside the velodrome. They must be happy for their teammate! Baldato starts a sprint, and wins it.

17:12 CEST   
Wesemann congratulates O'Grady in the oval, where Scott Sunderland awaited him. O'Grady's wife gives him a big kiss, who cares about the dust!!

17:13 CEST   
Cancellara and Michaelsen give him a big hug... Michaelsen is very touched, and can't hide his tears.

17:15 CEST   
That's all from us here in Roubaix now - thanks for following our Live coverage. We'll post the full results and rider reactions as soon as we can. Keep it movin', and until next time!

Provisional Results

1 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC          6.09.04
2 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank            
3 Steffen Wesemann (Swi) Team Wiesenhof Felt    
4 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Predictor-Lotto         
5 Roberto Petito (Ita) Liquigas                 
6 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic         
7 Roger Hammond (GBr) T-Mobile Team             
8 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Lampre-Fondital