Oct 3, 2021

Sonny Colbrelli wins Paris-Roubaix

For the first time in almost 20 years the Classic Paris-Roubaix was ridden in wet conditions. The riders of Team Bahrain Victorious could be seen at the sharp end of this truly unforgettable and incredibly hard edition, and in the end Sonny Colbrelli was the fastest in a sprint of three riders, securing his first win in a monument of cycling. On the same day Stephen Williams finished the conclusive stage of the Cro Race to secure the win in the overall standings.

When the riders were sent onto the 257 kilometers to Roubaix at 11:15 in the morning in Compiègne, in the North of Paris, the rain was falling heavily. This was not to change for the first three to four hours of racing, turning the 118th edition of this legendary Classic in the Hell of the North into a real battle of attrition. Some of the 31 sectors of cobblestones looked like a mud bath much rather than a regular side road. With Fred Wright and Marco Haller, two riders of Team Bahrain Victorious managed to get into the first serious breakaway of the day. But due to the harsh conditions this group of about 30 riders soon fragmented into multiple smaller groups. When Mathieu van der Poel as one of the big favourites for the win attacked on a cobbled sector with 67 kilometers to go, Sonny Colbrelli was quick to react and get onto the wheel of the Dutchman.

With Wout Van Aert another big pre-race favourite missed out on this attack and never got back to the race lead. Teaming up with van der Poel, Sonny Colbrelli caught one group after another and left them behind until Gianni Moscon as the last of the early attackers had been caught with 16 kilometers to go. The only rider to keep up with this duo was young Belgian Florian Vermeersch. This trio cooperated well on the final 15 kilometers of the race, with Vermeersch being the only rider to attack in an attempt to avoid a sprint in the Velodrome. Sonny Colbrelli would have none of it, quickly closing the gap to the Belgian and then safely winning the sprint of three riders on the famous Velodrome of Roubaix. With this win at one of cycling's monuments, the reigning European road champion made a childhood dream of his come through.

After his solo win in the Queen's stage of the Cro Race, Team Bahrain Victorious's Stephen Williams had a margin of 17 and 18 seconds respectively to his closest competitors. And while the conclusive stage finishing in the capital of Zagreb was almost entirely flat, the final circuit in Zagreb featured some steep ramps on cobblestones. An eight-rider breakaway took charge of things for most of the stage, and the rider in red and black happily let them do so as the picked up all bonification seconds at the intermediate sprints. This breakaway was only brought back with five kilometers to go when the race was on the local loop in Zagreb. This loop was pretty tricky due to a lot of twists and turns and a cobbled uphill sector.

On the last five kilometers Stephen Williams had to go all-out: The Uno-X and the Jumbo Visma team upped the pace drastically in a last-ditch effort to unseat the race leader. Stephen Williams was riding attentively however, closing a gap to Markus Hoelgaard and Tim van Dijke on the last cobbled climb. These three riders dropped all others by a few seconds and contested for the win in the conclusive stage. Stephen Williams rode a strong sprint and only was beaten by Tim van Dijke. He still secured the win in the overall standings. Team Bahrain Victorious won the team classification, and Williams added a 2nd place in both the points and the KOM standings to his tally.

1. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 6:01.57 hours
2. Florian Vermeersch, BEL, st
3. Mathieu van der Poel, NED, st

1. Tim van Dijke, NED, in 3:23.03 hours
2. Stephen Williams, GBR/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
3. Markus Hoelgaard, NOR, st

1. Stephen Williams, GBR/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 25:45.17 hours 
2. Markus Hoelgaard, NOR, + 0.17
3. Nick van Dijke, NED, + 0.28

1. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BHR, in 77:21.01 hours
2. Team Bike Exchange, AUS, + 1.15
3. Team Jumbo-Visma, NED, + 1.17