Italian Colbrelli edges mudfest Paris-Roubaix bike race

Roubaix (France) (AFP) –


A mud-spattered Sonny Colbrelli won a three-way cat-and-mouse struggle to claim victory in the epic Paris-Roubaix bike race in dreadful conditions on Sunday.

After a 258km slog over cobbles and mud, the Italian and European champion Colbrelli sped into the Roubaix velodrome alongside Florian Vermeersch and hot-favourite Mathieu van der Poel before edging them both right on the line.

Already caked in mud, the trio caught and overtook lone escapee Gianni Moscon 15km from the line on one of the cobbled mining roads that make this race so special.

Ineos rider Moscon had looked good for the win before a flat tyre followed swiftly by a fall ended his brave effort.

"I was only following van der Poel," said Colbrelli, who threw himself down on the ground and rolled around howling loudly with joy.

"It was stressful and tiring and I was worried about an accident," said the 31-year-old Bahrain team rider who has had the best season of his career.

Heavy overnight storms gave rise to fears that the 'Hell of the North' would be even more difficult and unpredicable than usual and, even though the storm blew itself out by the time the race started, the route was in such poor condition there were falls galore along the way.