Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) overcame the odds to win the Paris-Roubaix one-day Classic for a third time in his illustrious career and ended a amazing spring campaign by taking the lead in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings.Â
The Swiss rider dominated the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Easter Sunday and completed a rare double by winning Paris-Roubaix seven days later. He was the huge favourite and a marked man throughout the race but used his strength on the cobbles and his tactical intelligence to secure victory.Â
He ensured he was in the front group in the final of the race, got away with Belgium's Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco Pro Cycling) and then came from behind to win the sprint to the line in the Roubaix velodrome.
Dutchman Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished third, 31 seconds behind Cancellara and Vanmarcke. Greg van Avermaert (BMC Racing Team) was fourth, with Damien Guardin (Team Europcar) fifth.
Cancellara scored 100 UCI WorldTour ranking points for his victory, taking his individual points total to 351 and so moving past previous leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), who did not ride Paris-Roubaix and has 312 points.
Australia's Ritchie Porte (Team Sky) is third with 200 points after his victory at Paris-Nice and second place at the recent Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Colombia's Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is fourth with 182 points after winning in the Basque Country.
Team Sky failed to get a result in Paris-Roubaix but remains top of the UCI WorldTour team ranking with 536 points, ahead of RadioShack-Leopard and Katusha.
Spain continues to lead the nations ranking with 465 points, ahead of Switzerland Belgium.
It's always beautiful when you win
Cancellara lay on the grass of the Roubaix velodrome for several minutes as he tried to recover from his effort and understand what he had achieved.
"It's always beautiful when you win. I had different scenario in my head you have to fight to win. I never gave up but I donât really know how I did it," he said. "My legs and my head wanted to bring me here. Now I want one thing: a holiday, and put the bike on the side.â
As ever, Paris-Roubaix was a battle of survival, as the section of rough cobbles shook up the race and eliminated riders one at a time with crashes, mechanical problems, fatigue and pain.Â
Cancellara's RadioShack Leopard team controlled and chased down many of the early attacks as the other teams tried to weaken Cancellara. However instead of falling into their trap and going on the attack too early, Cancellara played a waiting game. He helped split the front group at one point but then rode intelligently before jumping across to the front group and then forcing the decisive attack in the final 25km of the race with Vanmarcke.Â
"It was everyone else against me and against my team. At one point I had to do a selection because we lost a few guys. I kept fighting and I came from the groups behind. In the end it was just me and Sep and we fought for victory," he explained.Â Â Â Â
Cancellara will now take a well deserved holiday after his dominant spring. However the UCI WorldTour continues with the Ardennes Classics. First up is the Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands on Sunday April 14.