Paris-Roubaix: Greg van Avermaet wins first 'monument' title

Greg van Avermaet
Belgium's Greg van Avermaet claimed his first Paris-Roubaix title, edging past Zdenek Stybar (left) in the sprint

Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet won his first Paris-Roubaix race in a thrilling sprint finish.

The BMC Racing rider came round Czech Republic's Zdenek Stybar in the final metres of the 257.5km one-day classic.

It is a first victory for the 31-year-old Belgian - who won road race gold at Rio 2016 - in one of cycling's five prestigious one-day 'monuments'

Compatriot Tom Boonen failed in his bid for a record fifth title in his final professional race.

"I felt very good all day, even though I suffered a lot," said Van Avermaet, who recovered from a crash with 100km remaining.

"With the victory now I don't feel the pain."

Van Avermaet broke clear on the Carrefour de l'Arbre section of cobblestones with around 15km to go as part of a three-man group alongside Quick-Step Floors rider Stybar and Cannondale-Drapac's Sebastian Langeveld.

The trio maintained their advantage until the last lap of the open-air velodrome in Roubaix, when they were rejoined by Team Sky's Gianni Moscon and Trek-Segafredo's Jasper Stuyven.

As the front three were caught, Stybar opened up his sprint only to be passed by Van Avermaet, with Dutchman Langeveld in third.

Van Avermaet, who finished second at the Tour of Flanders last week, had earlier bridged across to BMC team-mate Daniel Oss after the Italian's decisive attack with 39km to go.

Oss' effort caught out Stybar's Quick-Step Floors team-mate Boonen, who was never able to close the gap, finishing his stellar career with four Paris-Roubaix titles - equal most with fellow Belgian Roger de Vlaeminck.

World champion Peter Sagan animated the race throughout but suffered two punctures after launching attacks to fade from contention.

Dimension Data rider Scott Thwaites was the first Briton home in 53rd, nine minutes and 41 seconds behind the winner in a large group also also containing compatriots Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and Ian Stannard (Team Sky).

The race across northern France, nicknamed the 'Hell of the North', is famous for its cobbled sections and is the third of five one-day 'monuments'.

Team Sky rider Michal Kwiatkowski won the first of the season at Milan-San Remo, while Quick-Step Floors' Philippe Gilbert won the Tour of Flanders on 2 April.

The fourth - Liege-Bastogne-Liege - takes place on 23 April, while the Giro di Lombardia on 30 September completes the set.

Earlier on Sunday, Britain's Tom Pidcock, 17, won the 111km junior edition of Paris-Roubaix.

Result:

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC) 5 hrs 41 minutes 7 seconds

2. Zdenek Stybar (Cze/Quick-Step Floors) Same time

3. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned/Cannondale-Drapac)

4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel/Trek-Segafredo)

5. Gianni Moscon (Ita/Team Sky)

6. Arnaud Demare (Fra/FDJ) +12 seconds

7. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto Soudal) Same time

8. Edward Theuns (Bel/Trek-Segafredo)

9. Adrien Petit (Fra/Direct Energie)

10. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo)

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