Cycling: Van der Poel wins Paris-Roubaix – Politt fourth

Cycling Van der Poel wins Paris-Roubaix – Politt fourth

Mathieu van der Poel also won Paris-Roubaix after the Tour of Flanders. photo

© Jasper Jacobs/Belga/dpa

In an unprecedented high-speed race, the Dutch world champion celebrates his next success just one week after the Tour of Flanders. The German aces are impressed.

After Mathieu van der Poel’s memorable triumphal journey through the hell of the north, the two German classic car specialists John Degenkolb and Nils Politt went into raptures.

“Phenomenal, a different league. Of all the racing drivers I’ve experienced in my career, it’s the most impressive,” said veteran Degenkolb, who won the spring classic Paris-Roubaix in 2015, praising the new cobblestone king.

The Dutch world champion stormed to his second triumph after 2023 in an impressive manner with a lead of three minutes on the concrete track in the venerable Velodrome. As with his coup at the Tour of Flanders a week ago, he didn’t give the competition for fourth-placed Politt the slightest chance.

“He is a deserved world champion the way he drives the race. Chapeau,” added Politt, who had to admit defeat in the sprint of the chasing group behind the “world-class sprinters” Jasper Philipsen (Belgium) and Mads Pedersen (Denmark). While the rivals were still sprinting for places, van der Poel had already joined the front row as a spectator after his ride of 259.7 kilometers, 55.7 kilometers of which were over the hard pavés from the times of Napoleon.

Van der Poel on the trail of Cancellara

“I couldn’t have dreamed of that as a child. I wanted to make the race hard. It was the right decision for me to start there,” said van der Poel, who was racing on the dusty dirt road in Orchies with 59.7 kilometers to go had shaken off his rivals with a powerful attack. Van der Poel is the first rider since Swiss classics specialist Fabian Cancellara in 2013 to achieve the rare double of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Politt was very close to his second podium after 2019 (2nd place) in the unprecedented high-speed race – with an hourly average of 47.802 km/h, a record was set in the 121st edition of the race. The 30-year-old had even been able to dream of a really big coup in a top group of three. “My legs were really good,” said Politt. But it was very hard for him in this “incredibly fast” race. “I can be happy,” said the Cologne native. Degenkolb was also in the front field for a long time despite a tire defect at the wrong time and ended up eleventh.

The feared rain did not materialize in northern France at the weekend, so the track was only damp in a few places. Accordingly, the number of falls was limited. After the terrible fall scenes of the past few days, this was relieving news for the industry. Just on Thursday, Danish Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard and time trial world champion Remco Evenepoel from Belgium suffered numerous broken bones after a violent crash. The two stars, like all-rounder Wout van Aert (Belgium), who was caught in Across Flanders, will be out for weeks.

Chicane defuses Arenberg passage

This time, too, there was no “Russian roulette” in the infamous Arenberg forest, as race director Thierry Gouvenou had put it with reference to previous dramas. The organizers had defused the cobblestone section with a chicane just before the entrance to the forest to prevent speeds of up to 70 km/h. But the obstacle did not stop van der Poel from initiating a first test of strength. The world champion increased the pace so much that only three riders could follow.

The fact that the exquisite group – ex-world champion Pedersen was also there – did not pull away alone 95 kilometers from the finish was due to a defect by van der Poel’s teammate Philipsen from the Alpecin-Deceuninck racing team. The top favorite didn’t want to lose the winner of Milan-Sanremo at his side so early in the race. This also gave Degenkolb a chance to catch up again after his defect at the end of the Arenberg Forest.

Then it was Politt, who, together with the Swiss Stefan Küng and the Belgian Gianni Vermeersch, escaped with a lead of half a minute. The 30-year-old from Cologne is in strong form this spring. He had already sprinted to third place in Flanders – albeit far behind winner van der Poel.




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