Six months after finishing the Paris-Roubaix outside the time limit, the Dutchman Dylan van Baarle has won the gruelling one-day classic, an event in which Yves Lampaert’s chances of a podium place ended in the closing kilometres after a bizarre collision with a roadside spectator.
Van Baarle, riding for Ineos Grenadiers and second in the Tour of Flanders two weeks ago, emerged victorious in the Vélodrome André-Petrieux at the end of the 257.2km ride from Compiègne. His victory came at a record average speed of 45.79kph (28.45mph) and marks his team’s most prestigious result in a one-day race. The 29-year-old beat Belgium’s Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma into second place, 1min 47sec behind, on his return to competitive action after a bout of Covid-19. Stefan Küng of Switzerland and Groupama-FDJ came home third, given the same time.
Lampaert, of the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team, had been firmly in contention for a podium place with 8km remaining but endured a heavy fall after clipping the hand of a spectator who was clapping next to the cobbled surface. The Belgian rider tried vainly to keep his balance but his bike flipped and he went down hard, though he appeared to escape serious injury and managed to get back on his bike, eventually finishing 10th, 2min 59sec down on Van Baarle.
Tom Devriendt (Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux) and Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) were outkicked at the finish, coming home fourth and fifth.
After breaking 19km from the finish Van Baarle shook his head in disbelief as he reached the velodrome for the last 750 metres and later admitted he had not realised how effective his effort had been: “I could not believe it when I went on to the velodrome. I looked on the other side to see if there were other guys but it was just me.
“I had never experienced being the first guy on the velodrome. Last year I was out of the time limit but this year it was different. I had goosebumps when I saw [Ineos team manager] Dave Brailsford celebrating at the finish line, it looked like he was alone in the velodrome.” Van Baarle is the first Dutch winner since Niki Terpstra in 2014.
Ineos split the bunch in crosswinds with 210km remaining, leaving the likes of Van Aert and the pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel chasing. Van Baarle said: “It was not planned at all but it turned out like this. We were, from the gun, super-focused. That’s what we wanted – we didn’t want to chase, we wanted to be on the front foot and that’s what we did.”
The Dutchman was one of a host of riders to sustain punctures on the 54.8km of cobbled sectors but caught up with a leading trio of Mohoric, Lampaert and Devriendt with 25km to go.
He waited for his moment, six kilometres further down the road, to accelerate on the cobbled sector of Camphin-en-Pévèle, with only Mohoric appearing able to follow. Yet the Slovenian, who had looked impressive up to that point, lost touch and was unable to find the kick needed in the dying moments.
The rest of the top 10 consisted of Devriendt’s teammate Adrien Petit (sixth), who was the first Frenchman home. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) was seventh, followed by eighth-placed Laurent Pichon (Arkea-Samcsic) and pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) in ninth. The first British rider home was Van Baarle’s Ineos teammate Ben Turner, 4min 30sec off the pace.
Victory capped a remarkable start to the season by Ineos, a week after Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski won the Amstel Gold Race.