Paris-Roubaix regularly produces some of the most stunning photographs of the year but the 2013 edition is one which will live long in the memory.
Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard) went in to the race as favourite and left the Roubaix velodrome as champion but the bare facts do little to tell the story of the 254km in between.
Cancellara and Sepp Vanmarcke (Blanco Pro Cycling) entered the velodrome alone and a nail-biting two-up track sprint saw Spartacus defeat the 24-year-old pretender to claim his third Paris-Roubaix title – and a second Flanders-Roubaix double.
You can read our in-depth race report here – otherwise, here’s how the race unfolded through the lens of Stefano Sirotti.
Former champion Stuart O’Grady (Orica-GreenEDGE), Mathew Hayman (Team Sky), Gert Steegmans (not pictured, Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Clement Koretzky (not pictured, Bretagne Seche) formed a four-man breakaway which held a one minute and 45 second lead at the start of the Trouée d’Arenberg pavé sector
But the peloton quickly ate into that advantage on the brutal, five-star rated sector of cobbles
Bernhard Eisel was part of a 13-rider selection forced on the Mons-en-Pévèle sector and the Austrian rider would go on to be Team Sky’s top finisher, albeit in 12th
Cancellara dropped back to his team car as sector six approached, letting a dangerous eight-man breakaway ride clear, but, seemingly bluffing, the four-time world time trial champion then wasted little time in motoring across to the group
Cancellara then launched a devastating attack on the the cobbles of Bourghelles à Wannehain to drop all but Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and the duo bridged across to leaders Vanmarcke and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Both Stybar and Vandenbergh would see their challenge come to an end after each hit a spectator on the Carrefour de l’Arbe sector
That left Cancellara and Vanmarcke to ride clear to Roubaix and the duo entered the velodrome at a near standstill to setup a two-up track sprint for one of the biggest prizes in cycling
Cancellara used all his guile to force Vanmarcke to open up the sprint
Vanmarcke, on paper the faster finisher of the two, started his sprint early and could only look on as Cancellara powered past
An exhausted Cancellara described the race as a “pure fight to the line” and had to be helped back to the team bus by Radioshack-Leopard staff
The 2013 Paris-Roubaix podium: Cancellara, Vanmarcke and Dutch national champion Nikki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), who outsprinted Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Damien Gaudin (Europcar) for third
A third cobblestone for the mantelpiece