ParisRoubaix

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Paris-Roubaix
Local name:Paris-Roubaix
Region:Northern France
Date:Early April
Type:One-day race
History
First Edition:1896
Number of Editions:103
First Winner:Josef Fischer, (Template:GER)
Most Recent:Tom Boonen (Template:BEL)
Most Wins:Roger De Vlaeminck (Template:BEL), 4 times

Begun in 1896, Paris-Roubaix, formerly third of the ten UCI World Cup races and currently part of the UCI ProTour, has become the most famous single-day professional bicycle road race. Paris-Roubaix is regarded as one of the 'Monuments' or Classics of the European professional cycling calendar and carries the nickname Queen of Classics or La Pascale: the Easter race.

History

File:De Vlaeminck 1.jpg
Belgian cyclist Roger De Vlaeminck riding in the Paris-Roubaix race. De Vlaeminck won the race 4 times.

Organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation and held annually in the mid-April rainy season, over the cobblestoned roads and hard rutted tracks of northern France's coal-mining region, La Pascale leaves riders caked from head to toe in mud and grit. However, this is not how this race earned the nickname l'enfer du Nord, or the Hell of the North. The term was first used to describe the race when it was run immediately following the end of the Great War, or World War I. The race course closely followed the front lines of the war, and hence passed through many of the ruins, craters, and destruction along the way, earning it the name l'enfer du Nord, or the Hell of the North bestowed by the journalists.

In 1968, on the guidance of Jean Stablinski, the starting location was changed from Paris to Compiègne, approximately 80 km to the north. Famous for rough terrain, the route of Paris-Roubaix is adjusted slightly from year to year as the older roads are resurfaced and the race organisers seek to replace them with other challenging cobbles, to maintain the character of the race - in 2005, for example, the race included 54.7km of cobbled sections. The race culminates with 1km on the Roubaix velodrome.

File:PR2005Crash.jpg
A big crash in Cobble Section 20 in the 2005 Paris-Roubaix race. Some riders hit the muddy patch at high speed and the crash propagated throughout the peloton.

Since 1964, the record average speed of 45.129 km/hour has been held by Dutch cyclist Peter Post. The record for the most victories in the race is held by the Belgian cycling legend Roger De Vlaeminck, who between 1972 and 1977 took first place four times (for which he was awarded a trophy in the form of a paving-stone). Octave Lapize (France), Gaston Rebry (Belgium), Rik Van Looy (Belgium), Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Francesco Moser (Italy), and Johan Museeuw (Belgium) each have won three times. Italian legends Jules Rossi and Fausto Coppi won in 1937 and 1950 respectively. The only German winner of Paris-Roubaix was Josef Fischer, who won the first year the race was held, 1896. Belgian cyclists have won 47 times, French cyclists 30.

Cobbled races

Paris-Roubaix is often compared to the other famous cobbled road race, the Ronde van Vlaanderen held in Belgium. The two courses differ as Paris-Roubaix' course is more flat, and has more technical cobbled sections. Hence the race is often followed by the reverse numbering of the cobble sections. Ronde van Vlaanderen by comparison contains a series of hills, many of which are on cobbles. Hence the race is often followed according to the names of these hills.

Riders who win both races in the same year are guaranteed eternal fame:

  1. 1923 Heiri Suter Template:SUI
  2. 1932 Romain Gijssels Template:BEL
  3. 1934 Gaston Rebry Template:BEL
  4. 1954 Raymond Impanis Template:BEL
  5. 1957 Fred De Bruyne Template:BEL
  6. 1962 Rik Van Looy Template:BEL
  7. 1977 Roger De Vlaeminck Template:BEL
  8. 2003 Peter van Petegem Template:BEL
  9. 2005 Tom Boonen Template:BEL

Course description

The 260km race starts in Compiègne and follows a winding route northwards towards Roubaix, hitting the first cobbled sections after about 100km. From 1977 to 2004, the course was routed through the challenging Wallers-Arenberg Forest, situated after approximately 166km. Until 1998 the entry to the Arenberg pave section was slightly downhill, leading to a sprint to get to the front of the pack to gain the best position. However, in 1999, to reduce the speed of the peloton as it entered the Arenberg, the route was reversed. In 2005 the Trouée d'Arenberg (Arenberg Trench) section was left out altogether, with the organisers saying that conditions in this section has deteriorated beyond safety limits. The Arenberg area was formerly a coal mining region, and the abandoned mines had caused many sections of the road to subside.

As well as the Arenberg Trench, other difficult sections include the 3000m Mons-en-Pévèle (after 213km) and the 2100m Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (at 244km) - often decisive in the final kilometres of the race, which ends - ironically - on the smooth concrete expanses of the large outdoor velodrome in Roubaix.

Various comments on Paris-Roubaix

  • "Let me tell you, though - there’s a huge difference between Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. They’re not even close to the same. In one, the cobbles are used every day by the cars, and kept up, and stuff like that. The other one - it’s completely different . . . The best I could do would be to describe it like this - they plowed a dirt road, flew over it with a helicopter, and then just dropped a bunch of rocks out of the helicopter! That’s Paris-Roubaix. It’s that bad - it’s ridiculous." - Chris Horner [1].
  • "This is the one race that I dream of all year long, and look forward to all year long." - George Hincapie in various interviews.
  • "When you attack in Paris-Roubaix, you don't have to think. It doesn't take five minutes to work it all out. You just do what feels right at the moment." - Johan Museeuw in an interview with Cycle Sports Magazine.

Winners

External link


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