Monday, April 10, 2006

104th Paris-Roubaix

What a race. The 104th riding of the infamous Spring Classic, Paris-Roubaix, saw a new winner, three huge disqualifications, the crash and injury of one of the top favorites, and the return of the most feared and respected section of cobbled roads in France.

photo courtesy Sirotti

American George Hincapie crashed out with 60 kilometers to race after his steerer tube broke completely, leaving him riding on the cobblestones with no handlebars. He went off the road and crashed hard on his right side, fracturing his shoulder which will now require surgery.

photo courtesy Sirotti

Fabian Cancellara launched a devastating solo attack with only a few kilometers left to go and finished alone in the Roubaix Velodrome, the first Swiss rider to win in 83 years.

photo courtesy Franck Fife

The sprint for second place saw Leif Hoste beat Peter Van Petegem at the line, with Vladamir Gusev behind in fourth. Unfortunately for this group, they were all disqualified for ducking the barriers of a railroad crossing while chasing Cancellara just outside of Roubaix.

photo courtesy Sirotti

Tom Boonen, fifth place in the finish, was elevated to second place, though unwillingly. The disqualifications, naturally, are now the subject of much controversy.

Regardless of the outcome, this year's Paris-Roubaix had to be one of the greatest in recent years, and I'm glad I was able to watch it on TV. Who knows how long OLN will continue their coverage of races like this? Let's hope it's a long time before they finally pull the plug.