Sagan wins Paris-Roubaix; Goolaerts suffers cardiac arrest

April 8, 2018

Slovakia's Peter Sagan celebrates after winning the 116th edition of the Paris-Roubaix cycling classic, a 257,5 kilometer (160 mile) one day race, with about 20 per cent of the distance run on cobblestones, at the velodrome in Roubaix, northern France, Sunday, April 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

ROUBAIX, France (AP) — World champion Peter Sagan outsprinted Silvan Dillier to the finish line to win the prestigious Paris-Roubaix race, known as the Queen of Classics, for the first time on Sunday.

Sagan became the first defending world champion to win the one-day classic along cobbled streets since Frenchman Bernard Hinault 37 years ago.

Sagan, the three-time world champion from Slovakia, and Dillier rode together at the front for the last 25 kilometers (15.5 miles). Sagan launched the sprint in the Roubaix Velodrome and used his greater power to prevail.

“It’s amazing to win Paris-Roubaix. I’m tired after this race but not as tired as in previous years when I didn’t win it for some reasons,” Sagan said. “I have to say that I was not involved in any crash or puncture or any kind of mechanical this time, so I could save some energy for the finale. I attacked at the right moment and I kept going until the finish.”

Sagan’s win was overshadowed by Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts being hospitalized and remaining in a “life-threatening condition” Sunday night.

Race organizers confirmed in a medical statement that the 23-year-old Goolaerts “suffered a cardiac arrest” during the race and was hospitalized in Lille.

Goolaerts’ Veranda’s Willems-Crelan team said Goolaerts was evacuated by helicopter.

“No update on Michael Goolaerts yet,” the team later said in a statement. “We kindly ask to refrain from speculation as we wait for an update on his situation. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Dutch rider Niki Terpstra, who won the Tour of Flanders last week and the 2014 edition of Paris-Roubaix, completed the podium.

The race was marred by several crashes that ended the hopes of outsiders Sebastian Langeveld and Matteo Trentin close to the Trouee d’Arenberg sector.

Trentin’s Mitchelton-Scott team said the 28-year-old Italian rider suffered a fracture in the thoracic region and will remain hospitalized for a few days.

Sagan countered an attack from Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium with 55 kilometers left and went solo to catch Dillier and the last members of an early breakaway that formed about 200 kilometers from the finish.

Sagan tried to drop Dillier on the cobblestone section of the famed Carrefour de l’Arbre but the Swiss rider did not lose contact with his rival, guaranteeing some suspense until the final sprint.

“It’s really nice to win this race with the world champion jersey. I said before the race that my goal was to do my best. I’ve done my best,” Sagan said.

The 257-kilometer race is also known as the “Hell of the North” because of its treacherous profile including 54.5 kilometers of cobblestones spread out over 29 sectors. In 2017, nearly half of the riders did not make it to the finish in the Roubaix Velodrome.

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