'Hell of the North' cycling race's near miss with high-speed train

(CNN)A throng of cyclists during Sunday's Paris-Roubaix race took the saying, "Anything to win" to a new level -- and might have been lucky to escape unharmed.

Dozens of racers failed to stop at a level or railway crossing when the barrier went down during a section of the one-day race Sunday, boldly circumnavigating the railing as a TGV fast train -- which can travel at 300 kilometers or 186 miles an hour -- approached.
Eventually, seeing the train coming, other racers stopped and the train passed without incident but any misstep and a disaster might have resulted in the race nicknamed "Hell of the North" because it's so grueling.
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French train authority SNCF wants the offending cyclists to be prosecuted.
    "Several riders deliberately, and against all safety rules, crossed a closed safety barrier," the SNCF said in a statement posted on AFP's website. "Millions of television viewers saw live this extremely serious and irresponsible action which could have been tragic."
    Also dubbed one of the "Cobbled Classics" due to nearly 30 sections of the event being run on cobblestones -- more than 50km of the roughly 254km race -- Germany's John Degenkolb won the title.
    He finished the route that begins slightly north of Paris and ends close to the Belgian border in five hours, 49 minutes and 51 seconds.
    Degenkolb became the first man in 29 years to win the Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo double in the same year.
    Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins, meanwhile, finished 18th in his last race for Team Sky.