• Fabian Cancellara storms the forest of Arenberg cobbled sector in a less than ideal final Paris-Roubaix (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
There was no fairy tale ending for Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) in his final Paris-Roubaix. But while Spartacus' crashes were very real, we enjoyed the farewell story anyway.
Cycling Central

Trek Segafredo
11 Apr 2016 - 9:58 AM  UPDATED 11 Apr 2016 - 10:00 AM

Someone sure threw away the script: Cancellara's last Paris-Roubaix was not supposed to end like this.  

But that's the Hell of the North - it's unforgiving; a race changes in an instant.

A crash and a split - but still there was hope

With 120km to go, a crash on sector 21 split the peloton and felled Cancellara's team-mates Boy Van Poppel and Marco Coledan. 

Cancellara found himself back in the second group with co-favourite, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), behind a group of 23-25 riders. 

"I knew it was going to be hard after the split, but also knew it is never over because Roubaix is a tough race," Cancellara said. 

"I just kept fighting. It was my last effort, and I knew that if you give up, then it is really over."

"(Here), we were only a little bit back,' his team-mate, Jasper Stuyven explained. 

"But Etixx (Quick Step) and LottoNL-Jumbo pulled hard because they knew Fabian and Sagan were behind. It was a little bit chaotic for us at this moment: Boy and Marco crashed, Greggy had flatted, so we were a little bit all over.

"I had to start working pretty early, and I think everything was still looking okay when Fabian made his acceleration," Stuyven said.

In a 16 rider breakaway further up the road, and in his last race ever, Yaroslav Popovych was called back rather late. The team said it was due to the chaos within the team behind, but in the end, it would not matter. 

More indignity for the classics king was yet to come. 

Cancellara crashes - it's all over 

On the Mons-en-Pévèle sector 10 after 204.5km raced, Cancellara's bike slipped from beneath him where the sector was muddiest. Due to its nasty condition, many teams and media outlets identified this section's potential danger prior to the race. 



"I knew it was going to be a special race since it was not everywhere dry. I knew to stay up at the front, [to be] careful and really focused for every sector," Cancellara said. 

"But if you ride on second position or on last position, you can do nothing against a crash when it comes."

"The first crash I had to jump into the field and back, the second was just unlucky, and then the third was just like ice-skating, and I could do no nothing, it was over. Roubaix was gone."

Yet on Cancellara valiantly continued despite facing a three minute gap. 


One more cruel crash but Cancellara's tranquillo 

Cancellara grabbed a Swiss flag for a lap of honour and his wheels slipped out again.

Despite this one last indignity not worthy of a legend, Cancellara said his Flanders' second place result last week was harder to accept. 

"Last week was harder (to accept), and I am just happy it is over. I was quite relaxed when I entered the velodrome. This was a different feeling than Flanders; there it was a battle to the end.

"I mean, even crashing on the velodrome in front of my fans I don't care. One crash more or less changes nothing for my career.

"I am just happy in another way, but not happy about the race. Just happy it is done."

"I just want to go back to the hotel for a nice evening, celebrating, even though we have not won. But somehow that's sport, that's cycling – you can win you can lose, and we can still celebrate all that."