Lead Photo – Roubaix Velodrome by Teocalli
Is it just me or is Paris Roubaix The Classic of The Classics. Does it have better PR (Public Relations) ie The Hell of The North? Is it because of the number of times I’ve watched A Sunday in Hell?
Maybe it really is because it spans cobbles that are truly brutal, beyond any other of the Spring Classics. It says a lot that the cobbles are rated for their brutality between 1 star and 5 star, with 3 sectors graded as 5 star, Arenberg Forest, Mons en Pevelle and Carrefour de L’Arbre.
Having ridden Ronde Van Vlaanderen cobbles and also some of the Paris Roubaix sectors – I have not ridden The Arenberg Forest but have ridden Mons en Pevele and Carrefour de l’Arbre – they are truly beyond anything on Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Also with 54 Km of cobbles over 29 sectors that is about 20% of the race is off the smooth tarmac out of roughly (sic) 250 Km total.
I have an abiding memory of having just ridden the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector and being totally shattered (though I didn’t feel as bad as my riding buddy looked!). Shortly after the group I was with completed the sector, the fast group on the event came through. Geraint Thomas was with that group and appeared to float over the cobbles with ease. Immediately on finishing he engaged in conversation with people at the end of the sector (so he wasn’t even particularly trying – see back on the right in the photo). The fastest guy in the fast group then came through. As he finished he collapsed over his bike, totally unable to speak. Such is the gulf between a fast amateur and the Pro ranks.
The riders will doubtless be relieved that this year, once again, the forecast is set fair for next Sunday and we will not be watching a mudfest.
Top 5 from last year were –
- van Avermaet
By his own admission, Sagan is not the rider of the last 2 years (at the moment). Some of the other favourites from the last few years may also be showing signs of having peaked, so will this year be a year for a changing of the guard? Bettiol from RVV? The cobbles maybe should suit van der Poel and van Aert but have they burned too much of their candles already? One thing is for sure, we will know at the finish line on Sunday. (Ed: van der Poel is not actually riding).
Not forgetting that we have a Spot Prize for Paris-Roubaix, courtesy of Wiscot, one pair of these bidons.
The Picks table should now update after you click on Submit and then refresh your screen on the OTR League page.