Italy's Sonny Colbrelli wins Paris-Roubaix race

Colbrelli first Italian in 22 years to win the gruelling sporting event.

Italian cyclist Sonny Colbrelli won the Paris-Roubaix Monument classic on Sunday after a race marred by multiple crashes ended in a thrilling three-way final sprint.

Colbrelli, the European champion, saw off Belgian Florian Vermeersch and Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel, in second and third place respectively.

It was the first time an Italian won the race in 22 years, after the victory of Andrea Taffi in 1999.

A mud-caked Colbrelli, 31, said he was "very happy" to win the 258-km race, famous for its rough terrain, citing the difficulty posed by the crashes and the notorious cobbled sections.

Dating back to 1896, the one-day professional road race begins north of Paris and finishes in Roubaix, on the border with Belgium. It was held yesterday for the first time since 2019 due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Colbrelli's victory is the latest in a string of sporting successes for Italy this year.

In addition to winning the Euro football championships and Rome tennis star Matteo Berrettini making it to the finals in Wimbledon, Italy scooped 40 medals at the Olympics, including the fastest man in the world title for Marcell Jacobs, and 69 medals at the Paralympic Games.

Earlier this month Italy's men and women's volleyball teams won the European title, followed by the under-21s winning the world title, while Italy also won the Ladies' European Polo championship.

Perhaps more surprisingly, Italy had sporting success in cricket too - when the Italian national team beat England XI, a team comprising a mix of under-19, National Counties, former and current County players.