Fabian Cancellara entered cycling's pantheon with a dramatic victory in Sunday's 2010 Paris-Roubaix.
"Spartacus" decisively powered away from an elite group of eight riders with 50km to go, becoming just the 10th man to win Tour of Flanders and Roubaix in the same season.
Just a week after winning Flanders on his S-Works Tarmac, Cancellara hopped aboard a Specialized Roubaix and dropped arch-rival Tom Boonen ahead of the Mons-en-Pévèle cobblestone sector. Cancellara was briefly joined by three breakaway riders, then simply soloed all the way home against a strong headwind to the Roubaix velodrome to win by a two-minute margin.
"I think it was my big motivation today (to match the record). I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but things went perfect, the team was great," Cancellara said. "It's been an amazing week. I need some time to realize what I have really accomplished. Cycling has a long, long history. To be #10 (to win The Double), and the way I won it, I am really proud."
Thor Hushovd crossed the line second and Juan Antonio Flecha was third, but the outcome was pretty well determined as soon as Cancellara took the race by the scruff of its neck.
The victory saw Cancellara at his finest. His Saxo Bank teammates protected him all the way through the decisive Arenberg cobblestone section where the real battle commenced.
Strong northerly winds seemed to muzzle any daring, long-distance attacks and a fairly large group came out of the Arenberg.
Three riders – Bjorn Leukemans, Sebastién Hinault and Leif Hoste – had pulled clear of a lead group of about 20 riders. Cancellara decided he didn't want to wait for others to make the race and punched accelerator on the pavement just ahead of the Mons-en-Pévèle with 48km to go.
"Everyone was talking Cancellara against Boonen. They told me, don't race his race, race your race," Fabian said. "That really helped. I decided I wanted to make the group smaller, and then no one could follow me. I kept going full gas, and then I knew the race was only for second place."
Saxo Bank was superb throughout the day. Kasper Klostergaard snuck into the day's main, 19-man breakaway. The team then controlled the middle part of the race, with Matti Breschel, Stuart O'Grady, Gustav Larsson, Dominic Klemme, and Frank Hoj working the nose of the main pack.
When Cancellara attacked, he didn't need teammates anymore.
"Fabian is the most amazing rider I've ever worked with," said Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis. "The team rode fantastically, just like they did last weekend. But Fabian is such a special rider, he can do things like that by himself."
Riis thinks Cancellara is on such good form that he should ride Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège later this month.
Cancellara wants nothing of that, at least not right now.
"The only thing I want to do right now is have a party with my teammates," he said. "I want to enjoy this moment, if even for a few days."
After his spectacular victory, he certainly deserves it.