Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) were among the riders caught out by an early split in the peloton at Paris-Roubaix.
The beginning of the race is typically seen as a chance to get the blood flowing ahead of 30 cobbled sectors, but heavy gusts saw the main bunch splinter in two with over 200km remaining.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) was chief troublemaker, helping drive a fierce pace in the front group to ensure the gap grew quickly as those behind gawped.
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“Look at the state of this. 210km to go, alarm bells will be starting to go off,” called Rob Hatch on Eurosport commentary.
“This is a big gap. What a turn up for the books this is.”
The gap quickly grew to over a minute, meaning the opening cobbled sector at Troisvilles was a less chaotic affair with two smaller groups navigating it separately.
Bradley Wiggins, who resumed his station on the back of a motorbike at the race, said: “This is very unique. I haven’t seen this in Paris-Roubaix for a long, long time.
“A group this size going into the first section of cobbles with that much gap.”
Van der Poel was the overwhelming favourite having finished third in the mud-soaked edition last year, with Belgian rival Van Aert on the comeback trail from Covid.
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