Mathieu van der Poel powered his way to victory to claim his first win in the gruelling Paris-Roubaix race on Sunday.
The Dutchman was part of a seven-rider leading group that seized control with 50km of the 257km race remaining before making a 15km solo attack.
Known as ‘hell of the north’, Paris-Roubaix is one of the five Monument one-day races and Van der Poel has now won three of them.
“I had one of my best days on the bike,” said the 28-year-old.
The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider won this year’s Milan-San Remo race in dominant fashion and has won the Tour of Flanders in 2020 and 2022.
Van der Poel, who also won the Cyclo-cross World Championship for the fifth time in February, launched an attack on the cobbled Carrefour de l’Arbre section after John Degenkolb, of Germany, crashed heavily.
His main rival, Wout van Aert, went with him and it was shaping up to be a repeat of their thrilling duel in February when Van der Poel outsprinted Van Aert to regain the cyclo-cross title.
But Jumbo-Visma’s Van Aert, also 28, suffered a puncture, allowing Van der Poel to surge away to the finish at the iconic Velodrome Andre-Petrieux.
“When I passed him, his pace was low,” said Van der Poel. “I knew he had a problem but didn’t know it was a flat tyre.
“It’s unfortunate, maybe we would have gone as two to the finish line, but it’s part of the race. You need good luck and good legs, and I had both today.”
Van der Poel’s team-mate Jasper Philipsen managed to edge out fellow Belgian Van Aert for second place, with former road world champion Mads Pedersen, of Denmark, finishing fourth in the 120th edition of the Paris-Roubaix.
Van der Poel, who came second behind Tadej Pogacar at this year’s Tour of Flanders last Sunday, added: “It’s incredible. I think I’ve done my best classics season ever and to finish it off like this is a dream.
“It’s incredible how we rode as a team, with Jasper finishing second. It’s not possible to do better than this.”
Men’s Paris-Roubaix results
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned/Alpecin-Deceuninck) 5hours 28mins 41secs
2. Jasper Philipsen (Bel/Alpecin-Deceuninck) +46secs
3. Wout Van Aert (Bel/Jumbo-Visma) Same time
4. Mads Pedersen (Den/Trek-Segafredo) +50secs
5. Stefan Kung (Swi/Groupama-FDJ) Same time
6. Filippo Ganna (Ita/Ineos Grenadiers) Same time
7. John Degenkolb (Ger/Team DSM) +2mins 35secs
8. Max Walscheid (Ger/Cofidis) +3mins 31secs
9. Laurenz Rex (Bel/Intermarche-Circus-Wanty) +3mins 35secs
10. Christophe Laporte (Fra/Jumbo-Visma) +4mins 11secs