For Philippe Gilbert it was a Sunday in heaven; for the vanquished – so the cliché goes – the 117th edition of Paris-Roubaix was hellish. Such are the margins of success and defeat.
Despite possessing an envious palmarès that already included the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia, the 36-year-old Belgian arrived on the start line relatively unfancied.
However, five hours 58 minutes and two seconds after setting off from Compiègne it was Gilbert who prevailed, winning from a select six-man group that featured not only the defending champion, but also cobbled classics specialist Sep Vanmarcke. And all this on only his third outing at the race nicknamed the Hell of the North.
But how did Gilbert win? Who made the decisive moves? How did his Deceuninck-Quick Step team set up the win?
Telegraph Sport analyses the race to highlight how Gilbert won his fourth different monument with his maiden victory at Paris-Roubaix.
Playing the numbers game perfectly
Similarly to the previous weekend’s Tour of Flanders, the latest edition of Paris-Roubaix was possibly one of the most open races in years. Indeed, while listing their potential winners L’Equipe, the French daily sports paper, not only refused to name any five-star picks, but also left their four-star selections blank. However, while this may be perceived as a damning indictment on the quality of the field, the harsh reality was that none of the cobbled specialists were in their very best form.