Vansummeren wins Paris-Roubaix

Sun, 10 Apr 15:55:00 2011

Belgian Johan Vansummeren upset the favourites to claim the 258-km Paris-Roubaix classic as the top guns shot themselves in the foot on a day containing several crashes.

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Towering Garmin-Cervelo rider Vansummeren, who is 6'6" tall, attacked a leading group of four riders with about 15-km left before going on to win the Queen of the Classics.

"I am the happiest man in the world. It's a race that's made for me, it's made for my body," he said after Belgian fans waved their flags in delight at a sunbathed Roubaix velodrome.

Defending champion Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland raced away from a group 3.5-km from the finish to end up second, with Dutchman Maarten Tjallingii coming home third.

Seconds after crossing the line Vansummeren went to his girlfriend Jasmin for a hug and proposed to her.

"Some people give a ring, I give a rock," he said, referring to the cobblestone trophy the Roubaix winner is awarded.

"I was on full gas on the Carrefour de l'Arbre and then I had painful legs but it was worth it."

The 30-year-old Vansummeren even managed to ride the final 5-km with a flat rear tyre.

"I had no time to change my wheel," he said. "It was a bit tricky in the curves of the track."

Vansummeren's team mate Thor Hushovd, the world champion, and Italian Alessandro Ballan broke away at the same time as Cancellara but the pair could only finish eighth and sixth respectively.

Hushovd and Ballan refused to take turns with Cancellara and clearly feared the Leopard-Trek rider, who achieved a rare Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double last year, would be too strong for them in the final kilometres.

Cancellara was happy with second place but hit out at his rivals.

"I think that if I stop to drink coffee, they (my rivals) also stop to drink coffee," he said. "That's the way it is being the favourite."

Triple Roubaix champion Tom Boonen endured a terrible day.

The Belgian had a mechanical problem on one of 27 cobbled sectors and was later forced out following a crash, his first retirement from the Paris-Roubaix since he turned professional in 2002.

Australian Heinrich Haussler, who gave up German citizenship last year, British pair Roger Hammond and Geraint Thomas, France's Sylvain Chavanel, Slovakian Peter Sagan and Italian Filippo Pozzato were also involved in crashes.

Paris-Roubaix highlights

Reuters

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