Mathieu van der Poel has won the Paris-Roubaix 2023 in a big way. The Alpecin-Deceuninck leader crossed the finish line solo at the Roubaix velodrome, after separating from Wout van Aert on the heavy cobbled stage of the Carrefour de l’Arbre. The Belgian punctured at that crucial moment, had to let Van der Poel go and was beaten in the sprint for second place by Jasper Philipsen, who completed the party for Alpecin-Deceuninck.

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In a lightning-fast first hour of racing, there were many attacks, but not a single group escaped. Silvan Dillier managed to walk away with Dorian De Maeght on behalf of Alpecin-Deceuninck, who once raced under the name Alpecin-Elegant. Ryan Mullen also attacked, but the trio’s attempt ended in beauty.

Sjoerd Bax in the lead group
After just under a hundred kilometers, four fugitives managed to get away. Sjoerd Bax (UAE Emirates) was the Dutchman on duty and was joined by Juri Hollmann (Movistar), Jonas Koch (BORA-hansgrohe) and Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech). Nils Eekhoff also wanted to join, but he returned to the peloton.

Sjoerd Bax colored the field for many hours – photo: Cor Vos

The first four started with more than a minute ahead of the first cobblestones and took a minute and a half. Alpecin-Deceuninck took the lead in the field to keep Mathieu van der Poel out of trouble. That was necessary, because bad luck accumulated. Peter Sagan and Davide Ballerini, among others, had to give up, while outsiders like Stefan Küng, Matej Mohoric and Nils Politt were out of luck.

The peloton remained quite calm in the run-up to Bos van Wallers. Just before, Jens Reynders, Miles Scotson, Luke Durbridge, Madis Mihkels and Anthony Turgis tried to anticipate, just at a time when Wout van Aert had to change bikes. However, the Jumbo-Visma leader was able to quickly make his way back into the field and was dropped to the front of the strip in front of Bos van Wallers.

Van Aert and Laporte open the final very early
With over 100 kilometers to go, Van Aert tore the peloton to pieces. Only John Degenkolb, Christophe Laporte, Van der Poel, Stefan Küng and Mihkels could follow him. Those six headed for the Forest of Wallers. The Bax group started 18 seconds ahead of Van Aert and company on the cobbles of Het Bos, while the peloton followed by just under 40 seconds.

On the complicated stones of the Trouée panic ensued in the peloton. Dylan van Baarle, Matej Mohoric and Kasper Asgreen fell, among others, so the group of favorites fell apart. Shortly after the Bos, where Bax turned first, the balance could be made: the group with Van Aert and Van der Poel joined the last early breakaways, but Laporte was brought down by a puncture. His place was taken by a strong Mads Pedersen, who managed to make the jump on his own.

Van der Poel and Van Aert in the Forest of Wallers – photo: Cor Vos

A group featuring Filippo Ganna, Max Walscheid, Laurenz Rex, Gianni Vermeersch and Jasper Philipsen also managed to join, giving Alpecin-Deceuninck a surplus of three men in the leading group of thirteen. Laporte ended up in no man’s land, more than a minute behind, and was overtaken by the peloton 77 kilometers from the finish line. There was little cooperation.

Van der Poel has Philipsen in a strong leading group
Van Aert, Van der Poel, Philipsen, Vermeersch, Ganna, Pedersen, Küng, Degenkolb, Walscheid, Bax, Rex, Hollmann and Koch found themselves in the leading group. They turned well and led almost two minutes in the pack. Hollmann and Koch made their debut there in the Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières strip. In the background, Jumbo-Visma tried to push away from the pack with Laporte and Nathan Van Hooydonck, who took Florian Vermeersch with them.

Due to this situation, Van Aert did not have to lead and was able to leave the work to the rest. Laporte, Van Hooydonck and Vermeersch all made it to 50 seconds but got stuck there. Van der Poel then made a first attack in the last meters of the Bersée strip. He forced the rest to react and threw Bax and Vermeersch overboard, just before the 5-star strip of Mons-en-Pévèle.

Van Aert and Van der Poel were very strong – photo: Cor Vos

MVDP reduces the leading group to seven
Van der Poel again threw the bat at Mons-en-Pévèle. Van Aert and Philipsen were in his wheel, while Küng, Ganna, Degenkolb and Pedersen managed to keep up with difficulty. Shortly after the streak, MVDP tried a rising streak, an attack that only the WVA could follow up. They seemed to be gone for a moment, but the group returned anyway.

The winner was among the seven leaders, that was clear at this point in the final. Philipsen had to change bikes just before the Cysoing à Bourghelles strip, but that was done quickly. We had to wait for Camphin-en-Pévèle (4 stars) and Carrefour de l’Arbre (5 stars) that followed shortly after. Nothing happened in that first strip, but more in Carrefour de l’Arbre.

Van der Poel loses Van Aert punctured
Due to an unfortunate maneuver by Philipsen, Degenkolb fell after a touché with Van der Poel and Philipsen. Van Aert took advantage of this by pressing hard. Van der Poel closed the gap and pulled away from Van Aert at the end of the stage. The reason? Escape at the rear of Van Aert, 15 kilometers from the finish line. That meant that Van der Poel started the Gruson strip solo.

There was no carving on Mathieu van der Poel – photo: Cor Vos

Pedersen, Philipsen, Ganna, Küng and the return of Van Aert found themselves more than 20 seconds behind. However, Philipsen was able to play the role of jammer for Van der Poel there, so the pace dropped completely in the chase with 10km to go. In the penultimate stage of Willems à Hem, Van Aert separated that group, only Philipsen and Pedersen following.

Van der Poel, Philipsen, Van Aert
Van der Poel, however, started the last five kilometers towards the Roubaix velodrome with a half-minute advantage. Behind him, Van Aert managed to throw Pedersen overboard on a false floor. A very strong Philipsen could still accompany him. However, that came well behind an impressive Van der Poel, who claimed a solo win at Paris-Roubaix.

Van Aert and Philipsen were allowed to participate in the final photo, but that was one lap behind Van der Poel. In the sprint for second place, Philipsen was too fast for Van Aert, so the one-two for Alpecin-Deceuninck. Not far behind, Pedersen was fourth, Küng fifth and Ganna sixth.

photo: Cor Vos