Gallery: Inside the fastest-ever edition of Paris-Roubaix

Rouleur photojournalist James Startt captured a monumental Mathieu van der Poel on his way to his second Paris-Roubaix victory

Mathieu van der Poel’s second consecutive Paris-Roubaix was nothing short of a masterpiece, completing the 259.9km race in a record-breaking five hours, 25 minutes and 58 secondsAnd coming on the heels of his memorable triumph in the Tour of Flanders last week, the world champion confirmed once again that he is the greatest classics rider of his generation. 

Rouleur followed Van der Poel from start to finish in a Sunday in Hell, documenting what will surely go down as one of the most historic editions in the event’s 121-year history.

Van der Poel steps out of his team bus as he makes his way to the start in the town of Compiènge. 

Alone in his thoughts, the world champion rides up to the sign-in podium with barely 10 minutes remaining before the Dutchman sets out to defend his Paris-Roubaix title.

Riders await the official start on the cobbled streets of Compiègne.

Denmark’s Kasper Asgreen (Soudal–Quick-Step) leads the traditional early-morning break, even if the pack gave them little room to run.

The peloton accelerates out of the tight corner on the first cobblestone sector in Troisvilles as the tension mounts.

From the very first sector of cobbles, Van der Poel seemingly never left the front of the race.

European champion Christophe Laporte (Visma-Lease a Bike) was one of the race's early victims. 

Van der Poel drives the pace through the mythic Arenberg Forest.

After launching his blistering attack on the Orchies sector, Van der Poel rides along over the Auchy-les-Orchies cobbles. Behind the gap only increases.

Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) leads the chase in front of former winner John Degenkolb (Team dsm–firmenich PostNL). The two are probably well aware that victory was well up the road already.

Van der Poel powers through the treacherous Carrefour de l’Arbre on his way to Roubaix.

The king in his arena. 

Winning Paris-Roubaix with the rainbow stripes of the world champion on your shoulders could only be a dream for any cyclist. Van der Poel makes it a reality.

Like last year, Van der Poel’s teammate Jasper Philipsen finished in second, powering past Mads Pedersen and Nils Politt (UAE Team Emirates) as the Alpeci  team demonstrated why they are now the world’s best Classics team. Philipsen won Milan-Sanremo, and with Van der Poel’s victories in the Tour Flanders and now Roubaix, they have won every Monument so far in 2024.

Podium time with the world’s most cherished cobblestone.

British national champion Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) reflects on his own Roubaix.

Van der Poel awaits his turn at the press conference.

Van der Poel relives his recent Roubaix with the journalists inside Roubaix’s modern Stab Velodrome, named after local hero Jean Stablinski.

Jasper Philipsen in the famous Roubaix showers. 

Van der Poel may have been the last into the historic Roubaix showers, but this didn't concern him.

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