Deceuninck - Quick Step’s Philippe Gilbert sprinted to a famous victory in a fast and furious edition of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, beating Nils Politt (Team Katusha-Alpecin) in a two-man final sprint in the iconic Roubaix velodrome.
The 36-year-old Belgian has now won four out of five ‘Monument Classics’ - only Milano-Sanremo has so far escaped his grasp - as Deceuninck - Quick Step’s one-day dominance rolls on.
It was a particularly fast, aggressive ’Hell of the North’, raced at a relentless pace right from the start.
Multiple attempts were made to form an early breakaway, but nothing stuck until the 257km-race, which began in Compiegne, reached the cobbled sectors.
In the latter stages, an elite group predictably formed, featuring Gilbert along with Deceuninck - Quick Step colleague Yves Lampaert, Politt, Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Pro Cycling), and cyclocross star Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma).
Pollitt’s attack with 14.4km remaining splintered the lead group as Sagan, Van Aert and Vanmarcke fell away - but Gilbert had the strength to follow his German rival, and the pair had soon fashioned a decisive gap before they hit the velodrome for the finale.
The riders launched their sprints inside the final half a lap, and Gilbert accelerated inside Pollitt on to the final straight and punched the air in delight as he crossed the finish line.
Gilbert said: “I knew I was in good form … I was ill last week but the form was coming back day-by-day. Tactically it was a good race by us …
“I still have this dream of winning all five monuments. It’s a bit of a crazy dream that has inspired me for ten years and little by little I’m getting closer to it.”