Thanks for joining us for a truly vintage edition of Paris-Roubaix. Any of the five leading riders would have been worthy winners, but Hayman caused an upset with a fairy tale ending.
Road race - Men
Paris - Roubaix - 10 April 2016
Paris - Roubaix – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 10:40 on 10 April 2016. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
Get all the latest on Cycling: the big races, schedules and results.
Boasson Hagan fifth, then Haussler, Sieberg, Saramotins, Erviti and Petit.
Fabian Cancellara coming home to huge cheers in the velodrome - he's milking the applause as he does his final lap. It wasn't to be his day - but chapeau Spartacus, the three-time Roubaix winner.
What. A. Race. Veteran Mat Hayman makes the main break, stays with the favourites then beats recordman Boonen for the win, with Stannard third and Vanmarcke fourth.
What a victory for the 37-year-old Australian veteran! Stannard fought back on the final bend but didn't have the juice, then Hayman held off Boonen to win by a bike length.
VICTORY FOR MATHEW HAYMAN!!!
Into the velodrome and Vanmarcke joins the leaders! It's a three man battle as the bell goes - and the two others are closing...
And they're onto the final sector at Roubaix - one star and 300m ahead of the velodrome...
Stannard, Vanmarcke and Boasson Hagan looked pooped
Hayman with Boonen on his wheel - the two veterans going mano-a-mano...
Hayman closes the gap and catches Boonen - then passes him!
Boonen closes the gap... and then puts in a big dig on the right as Stannard is reeled in.
Now Boonen goes! Vanmarcke was on the front, but his countryman came through. Then Stannard put in a huge acceleration to pull clear.
Multiple attacks... Hayman has a pop, then Boasson Hagan... but it's still together. The gap is 30 seconds to the chasers...
It's no can do for the Briton, who is reeled in. Such a lottery - any of these men can win this, and it would be a wonderful story for each of them.
STANNARD ATTACK! The Team Sky rider pulls clear on the asphalt. He doesn't want this to come down to a sprint and so he's thrown his cards down.
Now Boasson Hagen comes through into the lead! What a ride by the Norwegian national champion. Meanwhile, Erviti leads the chase further back. Rowe the only of the initial 10-man break to have disappeared - but then he did crash, so not a surprise.
Vanmarcke attacks! Stannard struggling in fifth as they ride the gutter.
We're onto sector 2, the penultimate cobbled sector, at Hem - just two stars and 1400m long. Vanmarcke leads the break. A puncture here would do for anyone's chances.
Haussler, Saramotins, Sieberg and Erviti are only 22 seconds behind!
Stannard would be the first British winner of Paris-Roubaix... Boasson Hagan would be the first Norwegian... Hayman the second Australian... Many Belgians have won.
It's all back together on the front. Fascinating stuff.
Stannard out of the saddle and closing the gap - just 5 seconds now.
The Belgian lone ranger still has 10 seconds. Behind, Hayman has rejoined the chasers.
They exit the Carrefour and then enter straight away into sector 3 at Gruson - two-star at 1100m. Still the gap is not too big for Vanmarcke - just 10 seconds. They're riding in a grit gutter to the side of the road.
Vanmarcke is really digging deep, but he's not making up a huge gap. He knows that Boasson Hagan will probably beat him in a sprint, which is why it's the Norwegian who's leading the chase with Boonen and Stannard.
Sep Vanmarcke drops the hammer on sector 4 at Le Carrefour de l’Arbre - the final five-star sector. It's 2100m long and he's opened up a small gap. Stannard leads the chase, with Boonen and Boasson Hagan hanging on. Hayman has dropped back.
It looks like the winner will come from this five-man group: Stannard, Boonen, Vanmarcke, Boasson Hagan and Hayman. What a race.
The Sagan group is now 1:18 down and it looks like we will see no Roubaix double for the world champion.
Sector 5 at Camphin-en-Pévèle - it's a four star sector that's 1800m long. And Stannard has put in a huge dig to split the leading group. Hayman, Boonen, Vanmarcke and Boasson Hagan are with Stannard, but Haussler, Rowe and Erviti have dropped back.
Rowe and Stannard drive the leading 10-man group and a few little gaps open up as Saramotins loses the wheel. Boasson Hagan has to close the gap, but the Latvian champion has popped. Down to nine men now!
The leaders are onto sector 6b at Bourghelles - Wannehain, which is another three-star affair and 1100m long. The Sagan group trails the leaders by 47 seconds. Apparently Cancellara is chasing at 3:15 after his crash in the Mons-en-Pévèle muddy sector so dramatically.
Boonen has come to the front. Win today and he'll become the most feted Roubaix rider in history with five wins. He currently leads the standings alongside fellow Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck, with four wins apiece. What a story that would be.
The Sagan chasing group appears to include two Giant-Alpecin riders, a LottoNL-Jumbo rider, Adrien Petit of Direct Energie and Burghardt of BMC.
Haussler is losing his rag a little, shouting at the others for not helping out. We're onto sector 6a at Cysoing - Bourghelles which is a three-star affair and 1300m long. Vanmracke comes to the fore.
Boonen tests his legs and provokes a response from his rivals. Perfectly poised is this race, with the Sagan group unable to make any headway: the world champion is still one minute down.
Here's that crash by Cancellara - and the amazing dodgy by Sagan...
It's worth stressing that IAM Cycling are having a wonderful race what with both Saramotins and Haussler there, plus special mention to Imanol Erviti - Spaniards aren't meant to be good on the cobbles and he's on course for a second top ten of the week after his performance in Flanders.
Sieberg is back as Rowe, who went down in a crash earlier, comes to the front. This is a fascinating race. This could well be out top ten for the day, unless the Sagan chasing group does something special. No news on where Cancellara is...
Sieberg attacks! The big German from Lotto Soudal opens up a small gap as the leaders roll onto sector 7 at Templeuve - Moulin de Vertain, which is just 500m at two stars.
So, we have a 10-man group out in front: Boonen, Vanmarcke, Haussler, Saramotins, Stannard, Rowe, Boasson Hagan, Hayman, Erviti and Sieberg. They have 1:05 over the chasing Sagan group.
And here's Pucchio's crash for Sky - with Stannard yet again somehow avoiding hitting the deck.
But don't write off Cancellara yet...
SKY FALL: Here's that first crash which took down Sky Moscon and Rowe...
This leading group includes Vanmarcke, Stannard, Erviti, Boonen, Boasson Hagen, Hayman, Haussler and Saramotins of IAM. They have 1:15 over the Sagan group as they hit sector 8 at Pont-Thibaut - three star at 1400m.
Sagan leads a six-man chase group trailing the leaders by 1:10. They've just exited sector 9 at Mérignies - Avelin: two stars but just 700m long.
Cancellara is back on his bike and so this race is not over yet - he has a reputation of fighting back. What a race we're having.
Replays show that Sagan avoided coming down quite astonishingly - somehow bunnyhopping over Cancellara's bike and then riding onto the grass verge. Amazing.
Vanmarcke, oblivious of what is going on behind him, ride on in the lead with Stannard and Boonen and Hayman. Boasson Hagen is there too, and Erviti. The gap is one minute back to the Sagan group.
CRASH: Cancellara is down! The Swiss loses it in the mud and hits the deck. His bike is trashed by three riders falling behind him, including Terpstra! Sagan was ahead and so avoided it.
We're onto the second five-star sector: sector 10 at Mons-en-Pévèle, which is 300m long. Sagan complained that no one else was pulling and so dropped back ahead of teh cobbles. The gap is 40 seconds. Marcus Burghardt (BMC) has been dropped by the leaders.
With three Sky riders down, the leading group has been taken over by LottoNL-Jumbo, who have two riders - including Vanmarcke - on the front with Boonen. Rowe is almost back on, amazingly. The gap is 35 seconds back to the Sagan group.
Another Sky crash! Puccio comes down on the front in the mud, and Stannard yet again manages to swerve and miss. The lead is crumbling.
CRASH: Sky lose two riders! Moscon, riding second, hit the deck in the mud. Stannard swerved to miss him but Rowe went down over Moscon. Puccio shakes his head on the front. And that will take the wind out of this leading group...
Sky now driving this leading group with their four riders as they enter sector 11 at Auchy-lez-Orchies - Bersée: 4 star and 2700m. They have Rowe, Stannard, Moscon and Puccio. The Sagan group is 38 seconds down.
The Sagan/Spartacus group is catching some of the remnants of the leading break.
Van Asbroeck is caught by the Sagan/Cancellara group after his crash. The gap is down to 34 seconds for the leaders. Terpstra has managed to rejoin the Sagan group.
Now Sagan has taken over. He and Spartacus have a Giant rider with them. Meanwhile, Tom van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) hits the deck on a tight left-hand bend in the break.
We're onto sector 12 at Orchies - a three star sector of 1700m which is quite muddy at the start. Cancellara powers clear with Sagan on the front of the chasing group. Vintage stiff from the Swiss maestro.
The gap back to the Cancellara/Sagan group is 50 seconds, just to put some perspective back in things. It may yet come back together before we see more attacks. Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Soudal) is leading the break now, with Sky youngster Gianni Moscon right there. There's a bit of a lull at the moment after all that chaos earlier.
Boasson Hagan darts clear of the chasers and is the first to reach the leaders. It comes back together, then slows, before Hayman has a dig and darts clear. Puccio follows. It's worth adding that Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) is in this new leading group, but Tony Martin has been dropped. The big German buried himself for Boonen in his debut Paris-Roubaix but time will tell is it was all in vain.
LottoNL-Jumbo are driving the chasing group as they close in on the break, which still includes Chavanel, who managed to rejoin. They will make the connection before the next cobbled section.
Sector 13 at Beuvry-la-Forêt - Orchies: three star at 1400m. The cobbles are very jagged but there's a bit of a gutter which is proving popular...
Just 20 seconds now for the leading group, which will soon be swept up by the Boonen group, which includes the likes of Vanmarcke, Rowe, Stannard and Boasson Hagen.
Popovych has been caught by the Boonen group and he is passed. He's clearly waiting for the next group on the road and his leader Cancellara, because he's looking over his shoulders and also blowing kisses at the camera.
News coming in that Yaroslav Popovych has been dropped by the break. The veteran is riding his final race as a pro - but perhaps he's dropping back to help Trek team-mates Stuyven and Cancellara.
The Sagan/Cancellara/Kristoff group is 40 seconds down on the Boonen group. Sky have come to the front of this chasing group as they hit sector 14 at Tilloy - Sars-et-Rosières: four stars at 2400m long.
Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data) had dragged the break back to Hayman, but it's splitting up with some riders out the back. Chavanel appears to be one of those riders who have dropped back. The Boonen chasing group is 45 seconds down.
Superb ride from Mat Hayman, although it's tricky to know what's in his mind. Can he realistically solo all the way to the finish for the best part of 80km? Or is he just having a pop on what may be his last Roubaix? Or paving the way for team-mate Keukeleire... your guess is as good as mine. Either way, he looks a picture on the cobbles. They're on sector 15 at Warlaing - Brillon I believe. It's 3 stars and 2400m long.
Kristoff, who punctured, is back in the Sagan/Cancellara group with a couple of Katusha team-mates.
Stuyven almost overcooks a corner there! The Belgian unclips and steadies himself. He had Sagan right in his wheel - that could have been some added drama.
Hayman rides clear of the other escapees ahead of the end of that Hornaing section. Superb stuff from the Orica-GereenEdge veteran.
Sagan and Cancellara are no longer isolated: Stuyven comes to the front for Spartacus, while there's a Tinkoff rider to help out the world champion too. Meanwhile, in the break it's Mat Hayman, riding his 15th Roubaix, who sets the tempo.
We're onto sector 16 at Hornaing - four stars at 3700m, the joint longest. This chasing group is 50 seconds down on the leaders, with the Cancellara/Sagan pack another minute off the pace.
And the chasing groups have joined forces: the Boonen six are joined by 10 more riders, including those three Sky riders and the three LottoNL-Jumbo riders. All of a sudden the advantage swings from Etixx to Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo.
Puncture of Alexander Kristoff... Katusha are really having no luck today.
Now Cancellara is taking some responsibility and leading the chase - at least he does before pulling up to allow Stybar to take up the slack, then Sagan. Spartacus looks so isolated after their promising start.
Sagan is still leading the chase in a small group ahead of the splintered pack. It's really fascinating: behind the Boonen group there's a group of five made up of three Sky riders and two LottoNL-Jumbo riders, including Vanmarcke.
Cavendish is still in the main Sagan/Cancellara group, which has splintered somewhat in pursuit of the Boonen/Martin group. Martin is really burying himself, but they only have 20 seconds on the Vanmarcke/Rowe group behind.
The leaders are onto the three star sector 17 of Wallers - Hélesmes, known for the Gibus bridge. They have 1:15 over the chasing Boonen group. The Sagan group is now at 2:15 and so it's coming back.
Stannard and Boasson Hagen chat at the back of this select chasing group - they're old Sky team-mates so will form some kind of alliance perhaps... And now Sagan attacks! He's pulled clear of the remnants of the pack on the asphalt - knowing something must be done sooner rather than later...
Durbridge and Wanger come through for a pull in this Boonen group, as the Belgian takes a breather alongside team-mate Martin, Boasson Hagen and Stannard.
Boonen leads the chasing group with Stannard in his wheel. They trail the leaders by 1:20. This Boonen group has completed the Arenberg - time check coming up.
Cancellara, Oss, Sagan and Terpstra in that order... meanwhile, there's a big crash for Manuel Quinziato apparently. He was the rider who's fall did for BMC's Van Avermaet last Sunday at Flanders. Elia Viviani said to be involved too...
Sagan and Cancellara are on the front of the pack as they approach the Arenberg trench. They need a clean run now to make it back to the other favourites... Terpstra is there too, and Oss, Roelandts, Stybar...
The Boonen group has 30 seconds on the other chasers, which include Vanmarcke and British duo Rowe and Stannard. The pack is further back...
The break has reached the Arenberg forest! Sector 18 - five stars - Trouée d’Arenberg - 2400m. And it's Yarovlav Popovych leading the escapees on in his last ever Paris-Roubaix... The gap back to the Boonen chasing group is 1:30.
Gamble for Etixx or are they playing their cards with aplomb and reacting to the race situation with astute panache? The jury is out...
Luke Durbridge has joined the Booonen group, so there are six. Vanmarcke is not there, but LottoNL-Jumbo have put in Wagner.
This Boonen group trails the leaders by 2:00 but leads the main pack - which contains Sagan, Cancellara, Terpstra and Kristoff - by 1:30. All this and we haven't even reached the Arenberg.
BIG MOVE: Tony Martin and Tom Boonen have gone clear with Robert Wagner, Ian Stannard and Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Tony Martin is back on the front for Etixx in this chasing group, which still leads the main pack by one minute. They trail the leaders by 2:30.
The break heads onto sector 19 at Haveluy - 4 stars at 2500m long. Meanwhile, a FDJ rider has gone down in the main pack. Borut Bozic, formerly of Astana and now of Cofidis, leads the break. The Kazakh was 14th last year.
The gap back to the Cancellara/Sagan group is now a minute. The group that is doing the damage includes Sep Vanmarcke and a load of his LottoNL-Jumbo team-mates. This could be a decisive point in the race...
Etixx pair Terpstra and Stybar are also in the Cancellara-Sagan group - and it looks like they are being sacrificed by their teammates, who sniff an opportunity.
Time gaps: the leaders have 2:50 over the first peloton and 3:30 over the second Sagan-Cancellara group. That is why Etixx-QuickStep are really drilling it. Boonen, Vandenbergh and Kiersbulck are there. Sky have Stannard and Rowe it seems.
Cavendish, Kristoff, Sagan and Cancellara have all been caught out in this split. Gap is small for now, but this could be crucial as the Arenberg forest sector approaches.
Reports coming in that both Cancellara and Sagan have missed this split - huge news is true. They are the two big favourites for today's victory...
Tony Martin has brought about that split thanks to his fierce pace-setting and the aftermath of that crash. Many riders may have been caught out... The German is clearly listining to his radio awaiting orders. Etixx look to have a few men here, as do Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo.
Boy van Poppel was the Trek rider in that crash - he was also with Porsev in the earlier break with Viviani. The gap is 3:30 for the leaders - and there's a split in the peloton!
CRASH: Chaos in the peloton as two Katusha riders go down - including that man Alexander Porsev, who was in the break earlier. Movistar and Trek also have a man down after that incident, which occured because of a large muddy patch. Many riders took evasive action in a field to avoid waiting behind the crash.
Now Etixx and BMC have come to the front of the pack. It looks like Tony Martin and Daniel Oss respectively. The break has 3:45 as they hit sector 20 at Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (1600m and 3 star).
Nelson Oliviera (Movistar) has abandoned the race after that crash earlier on. He was in one of the early breaks before coming a cropper on the cobbles.
The cobbles: worse than Flanders? Well, that is the general consensus. The hellingen of Flanders may be far steeper but the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix make their Belgian counterparts look like polished marble in comparison, and what they lack in gradient they make up in sheer jagged nastiness and irregularity. "They're unique," says Tom Boonen. "There's only one day like Paris-Roubaix in the year and that's what makes it so special. The cobbles of Flanders, there are a few hard sections especially on the Kwaremont, but the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, they're like from before the War – they threw some bombs on them during the War and that's what's left of them, and we have to ride our bikes over them."
The leaders are onto sector 21 at Quérénaing-Maing - 2500m and 3 stars. It's the sturdy frame of Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) who is setting the pace.
The peloton has really eased up after that flurry of early cobbled sectors. The gap is now 3:30 for the 12-man leading group. And here's images of that Phil Gaimon crash earlier...
Indeed, according to Backstedt it's more often than not the kilometre leading in to each section of the cobbles where the race can be won or lost. Tom Boonen, whose record four wins sets the benchmark alongside fellow Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck, agrees. "If you look carefully in the past 20 years most of the decisive moves have been made on the asphalt. You have to always pay attention. The cobbles wear you down but sometimes the right moment is just after the cobblestones."
Magnus Backstedt, Sweden's only winner of Paris-Roubaix in 2004, described the race as an "elimination process" to the Eurosport's Cycling Podcast – "but not by the rear door, it can be by the front door. On the front of the bunch, when you get to the cobbles there's so much fighting and so many crashes. People fall and there are mechanical problems. You can be in the best form of your life but get taken out because of bad luck."
And still the gap grows... The leaders now almost have three minutes on the pack as Sylvain Chavanel comes to the front alongside Popovych. The asphalt road is fairly lumpy now between these cobbled sections.
Mechanical for Dayer Quintana, who needs a bike change, and shakes hands of some spectators to help pass the time before his Movistar car arrives.
And here's a video of the start today, and that unfortunate bungle for Frenchman Alexandre Pichot. Roubaix is one race you don't want to do without a saddle...
What's unique about this section is that there's a grass strip running along the middle, which will no doubt cause the pack to split in two parallel lines. It's windy out there too.
The break hits the only uphill cobbled sector of the race: it's sector 22 at Capelle-Ruesnes, 3-star at 1700m, making its return to the race after three years out. The gap is 2:05.
CRASH: A few riders hit the deck in the middle of the peloton, causing others to take a derour around in a muddy field because of the blockage. No big names down but a reminder of the perils of the pave...
We're onto sector 23 at Vertain: 2300m at 3-star. Still, Chavanel is rooted to the back of this leading group, using all his experience to do as little as possible. It's Erviti on the front driving the pace. The gap is 1:40.
More problems for Lars Boom, who is off the back of the peloton in search of his Astana team car. It looks to be a gearing issue.
The gap is up to 1:25 for the 13 leaders as they approach the next cobbled section.
HISTORY: Some more memorable moments: Fabian Cancellara riding clear of his rivals over 50km from the finish after attacking on the Mons-en-Pévèle cobbled section in 2010; Tom Boonen going solo for 53km to win his record-equalling fourth title in 2012; Team-mates Stijn Vandenbergh and Zdenek Stybar both colliding with spectators on the Carrefour de l'Arbre section before Cancellara beat Sep Vanmarcke in the sprint to take his third Roubaix win in 2013.
Still Sky drive the pace in the pack. At the moment we're on course for the fastest Roubaix in history: the average speed is 45.8kmph, which is faster than the current record of 45.1kmph in the 1964 edition, won by Dutchman Peter Post.
We're onto sector 24 at Saint-Python: it's 2-star at 1500m. The gap is 55 seconds for the leaders.
Spain's Imanol Erviti almost comes a cropper in the break, but steadies himself on the verge. Impressive performances in the cobbled classics from the Movistar man, who was in the break in Flanders and made the top ten.
Michael Morkov, who was in the break, is about to be caught by the pack after picking up a puncture. One of his Katusha team-mates has come off in the mud - it's Vladimir Isaychev - but he's back on his bike.
CRASH: Phil Gaimon (Cannondale) goes down on a tight bend ahead of the third section. The American is making his debut in this race and was in an earlier break.
Chavanel appears to have a mechanical - he can't get out of the little ring, which is a problem in a race like Paris-Roubaix. Ah, that's ok - he's managed to solve it. The gap is up to 58 seconds now. Third sector (sector 25) right here for the leaders: 4-star section of Quievy, which is the joint-longest section at 3700m.
The leaders are on sector 26 at Viesly: it's another 3-star sector and is 1800m long. Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel is on the back of the break, which has 50 seconds over the main field.
No major casualties on that first of 27 sectors - and now Peter Sagan can be seen near the front. The next sector is coming up soon...
This is the sector that was going to be cancelled because of flooding and mud. The stones are dry now but there is still a lot of mud on the sides. It's really bone-jangling stuff as Sky cuts the gap to 38 seconds for the break. Sky's two top cards are Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe.
THE COBBLES HAVE ARRIVED! The break moves onto the section at Troisville. Behind, Sky are leading the pack onto the pave...
Sky, Etixx, Trek, LottoNL-Jumbo all fighting for position on the front of the pack.
CRASH: Movistar's Nelson Oliviera goes down in the pack and causes several other riders to grind to a halt ahead of the first section of cobbles. Nerves showing in the peloton.
Those cobbles are imminent. The Troisville section (sector 27) is 2200m long and is given a three star rating by the organisers. The gap is one minute for the leaders.
This is Yaroslav Popovych's last race as a professional: he retires today. It would be brilliant if the veteran from Ukraine can help team-mate Fabian Cancellara to the victory today. He's going about it the right way by getting in the break...
Lars Boom (Astana) and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) are chasing back on after either mechanicals or bike changes. It could be the latter, given the imminent first cobbled sector at Troisville.
Here's the full list of riders in this brak, which has 45 seconds: Marko Kump (Lampre-Merida), Borut Bozic (Cofidis), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-GreenEdge), Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal), Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Yannick Martinez (Delko Marseille), Yaroslav Popovych (Trek-Segafredo), Tim Declarcq (Topsport Vlaanderen), Matt Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge), Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky), Frederick Backaert (Want Groupe Gobert), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Michael Morkov (Tinkoff), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and Maxime Daniel (AG2R-La Mondiale).
Not long to go until the first cobbled sector now... so time for a bit of levity.
Such a strong team, Etixx. Perhaps too strong? Besides four-time winner Tom Boonen, there's 2015 winner Niki Terpstra, Matteo Trentin, Tony Martin, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Zdenek Stybar and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck.
Bora-Argon 18 have joined Etixx-QuickStep on the front - and perhaps it's because the peloton has split and some of the big favourites may have been caught out... As for the leaders, they still have 30 seconds.
HISTORY: In 1996 the race is dominated by the Mapei team whose riders Johan Museeuw, Gianluca Bortolami and Andrea Tafi all arrive together in the velodrome. Museeuw is ordered to win the race in what is a rather subdued finale. Two years later Museeuw damaged his knee so badly in a dramatic fall in the Arenberg forest that he almost had his gangrenous leg amputated after the wound was thought to have been infected by horse dung. In 2000, Museeuw pointed to his leg as he crossed the line to take his second victory after a long 44km solo break.
STAT: Mat Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) is racing his 15th Paris-Roubaix. The Australian has finished every one so far - and is in the break today. If he completes today, Hayman will join Frenchman Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle with 15 finishes. One more and he'll equal the record, which is held by Raymond Impanis (1947-1963) and Servais Knaven (1995-2010).
Etixx-QuickStep don't want this one to stick: they have send four riders to the front and big Tony Martin is leading the chase.
The gap is 25 seconds for this break, which also has Borut Bozic, a former Roubaix top ten finisher. Team Sky's Salvatore Puccio is there too.
HISTORY: Swiss rider Thomas Wegmuller missed out on a chance of competing for victory when he got a plastic bag caught in his derailleur while leading the race into Roubaix with Belgium's Dirk Demol. Unable to change gears, Wegmuller could only watch as Demol bounded clear to take the win in the velodrome.
HISTORY: In 1930 the initial winner, Jean Marechal of France, finished 24 seconds ahead of Belgian Julien Vervaecke, but was later stripped of the victory when the organisers controversially adjudged him to have knocked his rival into a ditch while overtaking him earlier in the race.
Meanwhile, a group of around 15 riders has formed. Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and Yaroslav Popovych (Trek-Segafredo) are there, and Mat Hayman of Orica. The gap is 20 seconds.
Mechanical for Peter Sagan? The world champion is being paced back after dropping to see his Tinkoff team car. No evidence of a new bike so it may just have been to take off some layers. Many riders are doing that - shedding leg warmers and the like - because it's warming up a little.
Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) and Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) have opened up a small gap, with three riders in pursuit.
It's all over for the break as the three leaders - Viviani, Porsov and Van Poppel - are reeled in.
The decisive Carrefore de l'Arbre 5-star section looks quite muddy too...
First cobbled sector coming up in about 40km. Here's a sneak preview of what to expect...
We're seeing a flurry of images of various cobbled sectors caked in mud and looking rather treacherous - which bodes well for us viewers. Stay safe, cyclists.
Ok, I'm back in the house after that brief COBBLEBOX interlude. Hope you enjoyed it if you tuned in. So, not much seemed to have happened in my absence. That three-man group is still out ahead, with a 17-second gap over the pack. Brandle has been reeled in after his thwarted attempt at bridging the gap.
COBBLEBOX: Right, before the cobbles arrive I'll be doing a live Facebook chat about today's race. Click on the link below - we'll be under way in 5mins.
Matthias Brandle, the former Hour Record holder from IAM, is trying to bridge the gap to the three leaders, who have 20 seconds to play with.
Here's a look at those echelons from earlier today. It's back together now but the wind could prove problematic later on when the cobbles come thick and fast.
ROUTE: The 257.5km parcours snakes its way north for the best part of 100km before the first of 27 cobbled sectors at Troisvilles. Each of the 27 sections are given a star rating out of five, with just three sections put in the most challenging category: Trouée d'Arenberg (162km), Mons-en-Pévèle (209km) and the Carrefour de l'Arbre (240.5km). At 3.7km long the four-star sections at Quiévy (107.5km) and Hornaing (175km) are the longest while the shortest comes just outside the Roubaix velodrome and, at 300m, is the only one-star section.
So we have three leaders now: Elia Viviani (Team Sky), Alexander Porsev (Katusha) and Boy Van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo). They have 12 seconds to play with. Meanwhile, the peloton is back together after those crosswind echelons.
The first break has been caught but not before three riders managed to edge ahead. One of them is Team Sky's Elia Viviani.
The crosswinds must be tough because now the peloton has split, with the tailenders being distanced. We have four groups now: the leading break, the main peloton, a smaller second peloton, and a bigger third peloton. The gap for the 22 leaders is just 10 seconds now. It will all come back together.
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) is there in the break too. The gap is down to 18 seconds and so this may not stay out for much longer... Fortuneo-Vital Concept, Direct Energie and Lampre are leading the chase.
One of the Sky riders is Christian Knees, while Matteo Trentin is there for Etixx. Some real quality in this break.
Great move for Trek-Segafredo, this. Fabian Cancellara has two very strong team-mates in this break: Stijn Devolder and Jasper Stuyven. We also have riders from Sky, Etixx, BMC, Giant, FDJ, Tinkoff, LottoNL-Jumbo and Katusha... The gap is up to 30 seconds.
Direct Energie and Astana are leading the chase after missing out on this 22-man break. The race has now entered the Somme region of northern France, synonymous with the battlefields of World War One.
HISTORY: Although the race through the bleak coal-mining region of northern France debuted in 1896 it was not until after World War One – when the route took the riders through a tree-less land ransacked by shells and trench warfare – that Paris-Roubaix assumed its mythical status. L'Auto, the leading cycling newspaper of the time, described it as "hell" while the 1919 winner Henri Pélissier admitted it wasn't so much of a race as a pilgrimage.
One of the riders in the break is American Phil Gaimon, who was only called into the Cannondale team a couple of days ago to make his debut in this race. His debut in any monument, to be precise.
The gap is 17 seconds for this large leading group, with Team Sky coming to the front of the pack to controll things. It's quite blustery out there with some strong crosswinds. They will be the major factor out there today - as opposed to the expected rain, which doesn't look like it will materialise after all.
The big teams are well represented in this leading group of 20-odd riders: BMC, Trek, Etixx, LottoNL-Jumbo and Tinkoff are all there. But sensing the danger, the peloton has fought back and the gap is minimal. Devolder is frustratingly trying to rally the troops, but no one will lend a hand.
The peloton has now split under some fierce pace-setting by Trek's Stijn Devolder. Exciting stuff. Etixx-QuickStep's Guillaume Van Keirsbulck is there too, so potentially this is a big move.
And it's all over for the break, who are reeled in. It looked like they would stay out for a while but the peloton was having nothing of it. They were: Niels Polit (Katusha), Gedeminas Bagdonas (AG2R-La Mondiale), Benoit Jarrier (Fortuneo Vital Concept), Kenneth Van Bilsen (Cofidis), Robin Stenuit (Wanty Group Gobert) and Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko Marseille Provence KTM).
The six chasers have been caught and the six leaders may follow suit soon, because the peloton is really not easing up.
Remember, one of the key absentees today is the defending champion John Degenkolb, who was injured in that horrific training crash with many of his Giant-Alpecin team-mates back in January. The German also severed a finger and has seen his entire spring disrupted. Also absent are Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Demare and BMC's Greg Van Avermaet, both of whom crashed out of last week's Tour of Flanders.
Another six riders are in pursuit of the leaders as the peloton strings out. Those chasing down may be reeled in, and it's still no done deal for the initial leaders, who only have 13 seconds.
Three riders join Politt and two are in pursuit. It looks like this six-man offering will be the day's break because the peloton is giving them some leeway.
One non-starter today: Katusha's Jacopo Guarnieri did not take to the start and so Alexander Kristoff will be without a key team-mate. No worry, because Nils Politt has forced the first break of the day. The lofty German was very active in Flanders and Katusha now have a key man in a break.
The peloton's all strung out as two riders open up a small gap off the front. Remember, we have the best part of 100km before the first of 27 cobbled sections.
Astana's Laurens De Vreese looks like he really wants to get in the break today - the Belgian has been on the front for a while now. It's worth noting that Belgium have more wins in Paris-Roubaix than any other nation: 55 wins to France's 30 since the first edition of this race way back in 1896. Astana's Lieuwe Westra is also looking rather hungry.
Six riders edge ahead. Four follow. Then others bridge the gap and it all comes back together again.
And with a wave of the flag from Christian Prudhomme, the race is under way! A flurry of attacks comes from the outset, but nothing's giving for now.
Not the best of starts for Alexandre Pichot of Direct Energie...
They're off! The riders roll over the cobbles in front of the famous chateau at Compeigne. This doesn't count as a cobbled sector because we're still in the neutral zone. The race won't get started properly for a few kilometres. It's worth adding that today's start was put back 35 minutes to tie in with the train timetable: the organisers don't want a repeat of last year's farce when half the field went under neath the barriers ahead of a passing TGV...
Eurosport TV have produced a programme featuring their top five riders for this year's race. And here they are in reverse order: 5. Luke Rowe (Team Sky) - 8th last year and 5th at Flanders; 4. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) - 4th in last week's Tour of Flanders, will be favourite if it comes down to a sprint in the velodrome; 3. Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) - 2nd in 2013, 3rd in Flanders last week; 2. Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) - three time winner, Flanders runner-up last week; 1. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) - winner of Gent-Wevelgem and Flanders this year, but has never performed well in Roubaix... Do you agree?
While it's sunny today, it did rain quite a lot yesterday and so the cobbles could still be rather slippery. Remember, many of them have deep grooves filled with mud between them - plus the first sector, Troisville, was flooded and caked in a deep layer of mud until Friday. There was talk of having to skip it out, but that has been avoided.
Meanwhile, Francois Picard - who used to edit Eurosport.com 12 years ago before joining the rolling news channel France24 - tweets this picture of Lars Boom signing in at Compiege. The Dutchman from Astana has never won Paris-Roubaix, but he won that cobbled stage in the Tour de France two years ago - the one that took in the Arenberg forest and other cobbled sectors on a day that the rain was well and truly coming down...
Proof of the clear skies and clement weather here with this glimpse of Luke Rowe's bike. The Welshman will be one of Team Sky's main men and has finished in the top ten here before.
Here's a comprehensive preview with everything you need to know about the course, its history, the cobbles, the facts, figures and favourites.
After all the talk of expected rain today, it's a sunny day in northern France as the riders ready themselves at Compiegne. We all thought that we would see the first wet and muddy edition of the race since 2002 - but that's not borne out at all by the sky, which is entirely blue. So, we'll have to wait another year for rain - but that doesn't mean we won't see some cobble carnage...
Good morning and welcome to live coverage of the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix, the second cobbled monument of the season. It's the 114th edition of the Hell of the North, and we'll be following it here LIVE throughout the day as the events unfold.