Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paris-Roubaix 1990: The closest finish in this race ever. Decided by less than a centimeter!

Eddy Planckaert and Steve Bauer sprinting for the finish line of the 1990 Paris-Roubaix.

In 1990 the 88th edition of Paris-Roubaix had the closest finish ever for this race. There were 186 starters and only 92 finishers. The average speed of the race was 34.855 km/h or 21.658 mph. After racing 265 km (165 miles) of the toughest of all the classics, the outcome was decided by two riders tossing their bikes toward the finish line. Eddy Planchaert won by less than a centimeter.

Only 20 km into the race three riders, Stefan Joho, Peter Pieters and Rob Kleinsman, broke away from the main field. Over the next 76 km the three racers built a 16 minute lead as they entered the first section of cobbles at Troisvilles.

A group of 21 riders had been chasing for 100 kilometers and had closed the gap to the three break-a-way rider to only 50 seconds at the beginning of the famed cobbled section in the Arenberg Forest. Kleinsman had a flat tire and was elimanated from the break. The Belgain Eddy Planckaert attacked solo out of the 21 chasing riders. Planckaert quickly caught and passed the two riders remaining in the initial break. Planchaert's lead built to 1 minute and 15 seconds, but there were 65 km left in the race. A strong chase group was working to catch up to Planchaert. Two riders from the chase group, Martial Gayant and Kurt Van Keirsbulck, bridges up to Planchaert and the three built the lead to 2 minutes and 5 seconds.

A chase group formed of 15 riders lead by Laurent Fignon. The Panasonic team did their best to slow the progress of the chase. Fignon, despite Panasonic's efforts, closed the gap down to 20 seconds. He was unable to close the final meters. At this point Steve Bauer, Eddy Van Hooydonck a 2 others rode across to the Planckaert breakaway.

At the next cobbled section, Camphin-en Pevele 25 km from Rouabaix, Bauer attacked hard. Panckaert and Van Hooydonck were the only two that were able to latch on to his wheel. 

The peleton was closing in on the three riders as they reached the town of Roubaix. Several riders joined them while they were on their finishing lap on the Velodrome. Bauer started his sprint and Planckaert responded. The two were pretty much even as their sprint drew near to the finish line. Both riders gave one final push as they threw their bikes forward toward the line.  Neither rider raised their hands in victory.
The photo finish.

The huge crowd at the velodrome was silent. Finally the finish line judge, Joel Menard, made the announcement: "Eddy Planchaert, the winner by less than a centimeter!"

265.5 km from Cmpiegne to Roubaix (Veledrome), winning time of 7 hours, 37 minutes and 2 seconds.

Below is a video of the last part of the race.

Below is around an hour of coverage of the 1990 Paris-Roubaix from Eurosport Vision with commentary by David Duffield divided into 4 parts. 

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