How Johan Museeuw Won His Third Paris-Roubaix in 2002
The Paris-Roubaix is one of the most prestigious and challenging one-day cycling races in the world. Often called the Hell of the North, it features 261 kilometers of rough terrain, including 49.1 kilometers of cobblestone sections that test the riders' endurance, skill and luck. In 2002, the race celebrated its 100th edition, and Belgian legend Johan Museeuw entered history by winning his third Paris-Roubaix after an impressive solo attack 40 kilometers from the finish.
The 2002 Paris-Roubaix was held on April 14, under windy and rainy conditions that made the course even more treacherous. The race started in CompiÃgne, north of Paris, and ended in the iconic velodrome of Roubaix. Out of 190 starters, only 41 riders managed to finish within the time limit.
The race was marked by several crashes and punctures that affected some of the favorites, such as Andrea Tafi, Peter Van Petegem and Franco Ballerini. Museeuw, who was riding for Domo-Farm Frites, had a strong team to support him, including Tom Boonen, Max van Heeswijk and Enrico Cassani. He also had a powerful rival in Steffen Wesemann, who was leading the World Cup standings at the time and had won the Tour of Flanders a week earlier.
The decisive move came at the Carrefour de l'Arbre, a five-star cobblestone section that is considered one of the hardest of the race. Museeuw attacked with Wesemann on his wheel, but the German could not follow him for long. Museeuw then rode alone to the finish, crossing the line with his arms raised and pointing to his left knee, which had been severely injured in a crash in 1998 and had almost ended his career. He dedicated his victory to his father, who had died a few months earlier.
Wesemann finished second, three minutes and four seconds behind Museeuw. Boonen completed the podium, three minutes and eight seconds behind his teammate, after winning a sprint against Tristan Hoffman, Lars Michaelsen and George Hincapie.
Museeuw's third Paris-Roubaix win cemented his status as one of the greatest classics riders of all time. He had previously won the race in 1996 and 2000, as well as three editions of the Tour of Flanders and one of Milan-San Remo. He also became the second rider to win three Paris-Roubaix titles after fellow Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck, who had four.
The 2002 Paris-Roubaix also marked the emergence of Boonen as a future star of the classics. The young Belgian impressed with his strength and skill on the cobbles, helping Museeuw to victory and taking third place himself. He would go on to win four Paris-Roubaix titles in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012, equaling De Vlaeminck's record.
The race also showcased the beauty and drama of cycling on the cobbles, which has made Paris-Roubaix one of the most popular and revered races among fans and riders alike. The race is still held every year in April, except for 2020 and 2021 when it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2002 ParisâRoubaix - Wikipedia[^1^]
Paris - Roubaix 2002 One day race results - ProCyclingStats.com[^2^]
2002 Paris - Roubaix complete results - BikeRaceInfo[^3^] ec8f644aee