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Race Preview - The 108th Paris-Roubaix
 
By Giles Belbin
Date: 4/8/2010
Race Preview - The 108th Paris-Roubaix
 


Courtesy Paris-Roubaix

“Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” Paradise Lost, John Milton, (1608 – 1674)."

Into the second week of April and the spring classics season continues unabated. This week it's the turn of the Queen of the Classics, the hell of the North that is Paris Roubaix. After two weeks of facing cobbled climbs in Gent-Wevelgem and then the Ronde van Vlaanderen , the peloton will be thankful to see the back of the short, steep climbs that have so far characterised the northern spring classics, but they won't be able to say goodbye to the cobbles, far from it for Paris-Roubaix is all about the pavé.

It's 1896 and the first Paris - Roubaix race attracts some (soon to be) famous names.
The first running of the race was in 1896, the brainchild of two textile manufacturers and cycling fans, Theo Vienne and Maurice Perez, who had built a velodrome at Roubaix. Keen to devise a race that started in Paris and ended at their velodrome they contacted the sports paper Le Velo and pitched the idea of the race to the paper's director. Amazingly they presented their race as the perfect training ride for the well established and mammoth one-day race – Bordeaux – Paris (now defunct). Le Velo's director liked the idea, pledged the paper's support and the Queen of the Classics was born.

The inaugural race attracted riders from far and wide including a couple of names that will be familiar to all cycle racing fans. Henri Desgrange, the originator of the Tour de France and Maurice Garin, winner of that very first Tour, both contested the first ever Paris – Roubaix, albeit with differing fortunes. Desgrange abandoned, whilst Garin finished third and would go on to win the second race a year later. The first race was won by a German - Josef Fischer, but over the years the race has become a battleground for French and Belgian riders - despite France claiming 17 of the first 20 races, Belgium now holds the upper-hand with 53 victories to France's 30. The race has only ever been interrupted by the two world wars, meaning that the 2010 edition will be the 108th running of the race.

A who's who of Cycling.
The list of former winners of Paris – Roubaix reads like a who's who of professional bike racing. Roger De Vlaeminck is the record winner, with four wins. Other winners include the afore mentioned Maurice Garin, Fausto Coppi, Rik Van Looy, Louison Bobet, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault. The race however, is not universally loved, even by those who have triumphed in it. On winning the race in 1981, after falling innumerable times, Frenchman and five time Tour de France champion Bernard Hinault declared that, “Paris-Roubaix est une connerie.” (Paris-Roubaix is bulls**t) before vowing never to ride it again (a vow he wouldn't keep).

2010 Race Parcours

Courtesy Paris-Roubaix

Despite its name, the modern-day start line for Paris-Roubaix is actually 80 kilometres north of Paris, in the French city of Compiègne (the starting town has changed a number of times since moving from Paris). The route takes the riders northwards for 259 kilometres to the French / Belgian border and the velodrome in the city of Roubaix. Whilst the early part of the race will see the riders jostling for position, it is the second section of the race where the real fun begins as the peloton hit the first of the 27 sections of pavé that feature in the run in to Roubaix.

The sections of pavé are highly strategic areas of the race. They are incredibly tough to ride over and their narrowness means that they cause tailbacks and bottlenecks. Two of the most famous sections are also the toughest. The Trouée d’Arenberg comes after 163.5kms of racing and is ranked as 5/5 for difficulty. At 2.4km long it is one of the longer stretches of cobblestones in the race and has become probably the most symbolic stretch in the entire race. Coming relatively early in the race as it does, it is not necessarily decisive: you can't win the race here, but you sure can lose it. A selection is often made meaning the favourites have to be at the front as the race hits this infamous stretch.


A close up of the cobbles at Arenberg
Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Once through Arenberg the riders then face no fewer than four stretches of pavé ranked 4/5 or more for difficulty before they hit Le Carrefour de l’Arbre. Coming a mere 15 kilometres from the end of the race this is probably the most important stretch and features tight corners, another problem for the rider to face. It is categorised as being of the toughest severity (5/5) and lasts for over two kilometres. The winner will almost certainly come from the leading group at this section of pavé.

. From Le Carrefour de l’Arbre the riders face three more cobblestoned sections, although none ranked higher than 2/5 in difficulty before they enter the velodrome at Roubaix. If a solo escape has succeeded then the brave rider can enjoy his circuits of the famous arena, lapping up the affections of the raucous crowd. If two or more riders enter together then it will be a nervous sprint for the line. The rider with the most steely resolve, the deepest well of courage , the greatest reserves of strength will prevail in this, possibly cycling's toughest challenge. Their reward? A shower in the velodrome's famous, antiquated locker-room, a trophy of a polished cobblestone and a place among cycling's true greats.


2009 Winner Tom Boonen with his winner's trophy
Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti
 

Summary of Stretches of pavé
27. Troisvilles (km 98 - 2200 m) +++
26. Viesly (km 104,5 - 1800 m) +++
25. Quievy (km 107 - 3700 m) ++++
24. Saint-Python (km 112 - 1500 m) ++
23. Vertain (km 119,5 - 2300 m) +++
22. Capelle-sur-Ecaillon – Le Buat (km 126,5 - 1700 m) +++
21. Verchain-Maugré - Quérénaing (km 138 - 1600 m) +++
20. Querenaing - Maing (km 141 - 2500 m) +++
19. Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 144 - 1600 m) ++
18. Haveluy (km 155,5 - 2500 m) ++++
17. Trouée d’Arenberg (km 163,5 - 2400 m) +++++
16. Hornaing - Wandignies (km 176,5 - 3700 m) +++
15. Warlaing - Brillon (km 184 - 2400 m) +++
14. Tilloy - Sars-et-Rosières (187,5 - 2400 m) +++
13. Beuvry-la-Forêt à Orchies (km 194 - 1400m) +++
12. Orchies (km 198,5 - 1700 m) +++
11. Auchy-lez-Orchies - Bersée (km 205 - 2600 m) +++
10. Mons-en-Pévèle (km 210,5 - 3000 m) +++++
9. Mérignies – Pont-à-Marcq (km 216,5 - 700 m) ++
8. Pont-Thibaut (km 219,5 - 1400 m) +++
7. Templeuve l’Epinette (km 225 - 200 m) +
Le Moulin de Vertain (km 225,5 - 500 m) ++
6. Cysoing - Bourghelles (km 232 - 1300 m) ++++
Bourghelles – Wannehain (km 234,5 - 1100 m) ++++
5. Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 239 - 1800 m) ++++
4. Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 242 - 2100 m) +++++
3. Gruson (km 244 - 1100 m) ++
2. Hem (km 251 - 1400 m) +
1. Roubaix (km 257 - 300 m) +
+ denotes difficulty

Race Favourites
Two riders dominate the pre-race talk, the first is going for an historic fourth win and his third in a row, the second has also won the race before and is going for the acclaimed double of Flanders and Roubaix, yes, of course, it's Boonen and Cancellara.

Fabian Cancellara
The Saxo Bank strongman has already had a stunning classics season.Victory two weeks ago in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke prepared him well for his fantastic win last weekend in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. He was simply too strong for Tom Boonen last Sunday, riding away from the Belgian on the Muur. How much that has taken out of him remains to be seen but he has pedigree in the race, winning in 2006 and finishing second in 2008. The thought of completing the fabled Fanders / Roubaix double will surely act as a huge motivation and give him that extra ounce of strength in the closing strtches of the race. at the time of writing he was the bookies favourite.


Fabian Cancellara claiming victory in last weekend's Ronde van Vlaanderen
Photo © 2010 Bart Hazen

Tom Boonen
Second favourite with the bookies, Tom Boonen, is going for his fourth win in Paris-Roubaix (to tie with Roger de Vlaeminck) and is seeking to become only the third man in history to claim three in a row (after Octave Lapize and Francesco Moser). It is safe to say then that should Boonen take the win it will indeed be an historic occasion.
After finishing second in Milan-San Remo and in last week's Ronde, Boonen has had a strong classics season so far without actually recoding a win. A classics rider of his stature will surely see that as a disppointment and will be seeking redress this weekend.


2009 winner Tom Boonen on his way to victory
Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Matti Breschel
Tenth last year, Saxo Bank's Matti Breschel rode strongly in this year's Gent-Wevelgem and finished 15th in last weeks Ronde. He may have some form to carry him into Roubaix, the bookies certainly think so and have him listed as third favoutite, albeit some way behind Cancellara and Boonen. He may also have to play the role of loyal teammate to Cancellara.

Filippo Pozzato
Team Katusha's Italian leader was second in this race last year but his preparation has been hit by a bout of flu that saw him sit out last week's Ronde. If he has recovered enough strength, he could well be a fctor in this year's race.

Outside tips
Gent-Wevelgem winner Bernard Eisel could do well. He was 16th in last week's Ronde and this race should suit him better. HTC-Columbia Sports Director Tristan Hoffman says that the team have prepared well and will be basing their race strategy around Eisel, saying: "Today the whole team went to ride over the last part of the course, checking out all the important cobbled sections, so that they know what's coming up. The cobbles aren't too muddy right now, and although it's been raining for the last few days the weather should be good this weekend. Paris-Roubaix is a very special event, something unique in sport, not just cycling. So as a rider it always pays to go and remind yourself what you will be letting yourself in for on Sunday.....Bernie [Bernhard Eisel] will be there to make his move. Paris-Roubaix is a race which suits him a little better than the Tour of Flanders, and just like in the Tour of Flanders, we'll be basing our race strategy around him."

Other possible winners are perennial Classics contenders Omega-Lotto's Phillipe Gilbert and Leif Hoste, BMC Racing's classic duo Alessandro Ballan and George Hincapie, Cervelo Test Team's Thor Hushovd and Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha.

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The 108th Paris-Robaix Provisional Start List.
*Substitute

ACQUA & SAPONE (ASA) - Sporting Manager : CENGHIALTA Bruno
* MARZOLI Ruggero
* DE PATRE Roberto
* CIAVATTA Paolo
* CHTIOUI Rafâa
PAOLINI Luca
PALUMBO Giuseppe
MASCIARELLI Andrea
HONIG Reiner
FANTINI Alessandro
DONATI Alessandro
DI PAOLO Francesco
ANDRIOTTO Dario


AG2R-LA MONDIALE (ALM) - Sporting Manager : LAVENU Vincent
* RIBLON Christophe
* KRIVTSOV Yuriy
* ELMIGER Martin
* EFIMKIN Alexander
SMUKULIS Gatis
ROUSSEAU Nicolas
RAVARD Anthony
MONDORY Lloyd
HINAULT Sébastien
GODDAERT Kristof
GASTAUER Ben
BERARD Julien


ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI (AND) - Sporting Manager : BELLINI Marco
* SERPA José
* RODRIGUEZ Jackson
* MATE MARDONES Luis Angel
* BERTOLINI Alessandro
WURF Cameron
TABORRE Fabio
SOLARI Luca
PIEMONTESI Fabrice
MARGUTTI Damiano
LODDO Alberto
BERTOLINI Thomas
BERTOGLIATI Rubens


BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM (BTL) - Sporting Manager : ARNOULD Dominique
* JEROME Vincent
TURGOT Sébastien
PICHOT Alexandre
HADDOU Saïd
GENE Yohann
GAUDIN Damien
CLAUDE Mathieu
CHAINEL Steve
BONNET William


BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) - Sporting Manager : LELANGUE John
* ZAHNER Simon
* MOOS Alexandre
* KRISTOFF Alexander
WYSS Danilo
STEWART Jackson
SCHÄR Michael
MURPHY John
KOHLER Martin
HINCAPIE George
BURGHARDT Marcus
BALLAN Alessandro


CAISSE D’EPARGNE (GCE) - Sporting Manager : LEDANOIS Yvon
* MOREAU Christophe
* JEANNESSON Arnold
* AMADOR BIPKAZACOVA Andrey
ROJAS Jose Joaquin
PASAMONTES Luis
KIRYIENKA Vasil
GUTIERREZ José Ivan
FARIA DA COSTA Rui Alberto
ERVITI Imanol
DRUJON Mathieu
COYOT Arnaud


CERVELO TEST TEAM (CTT)
 Sporting Manager : VAN POPPEL Jean-Paul
* REIMER Martin
* LLOYD Daniel
* HAUSSLER Heinrich
* APPOLLONIO Davide
ROLLIN Dominique
RASCH Gabriel
LANCASTER Brett Daniel
KLIER Andreas
HUSHOVD Thor
HUNT Jérémy
HAMMOND Roger
BOS Théo

COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE (COF)
 Sporting Manager : DELOEUIL Alain
* KERN Christophe
ZINGLE Romain
VALENTIN Tristan
SIJMENS Nico
MINARD Sébastien
KEUKELEIRE Jens
ISTA Kevin
FOUCHARD Julien
BLOT Guillaume

EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI (EUS)
Sporting Manager : LARRAZABAL ARBAIZA Josu
* MARTINEZ Egoi
* CASTROVIEJO NICOLAS Jonathan
URTASUN PEREZ Pablo
SICARD Romain
IZAGIRRE INSAUSTI Gorka
ISASI Inaki
GALDOS ALONSO Aitor
FERNANDEZ DE LARREA Koldo
DE LIS Sergio
ARAMENDIA Javier

FRANCAISE DES JEUX (FDJ)
Sporting Manager : MADIOT Marc
* ROY Jérémy
* ROUX Anthony
* GUDSELL Timothy
* GESLIN Anthony
VICHOT Arthur
OFFREDO Yoann
LADAGNOUS Matthieu
HUTAROVICH Yauheni
GUESDON Frédéric
CHEREL Mickael
CHAVANEL Sébastien
BONNAIRE Olivier

GARMIN - TRANSITIONS (GRM)
Sporting Manager : WHITE Matthew
* PATE Danny
* DEAN Julian
WILSON Mat
VAN SUMMEREN Johan
TUFT Svein
MILLAR David
MAASKANT Martijn
HUNTER Robert
FARRAR Tyler
COZZA Steven

KATUSHA TEAM (KAT)
 Sporting Manager : PARSANI Serge
* KLIMOV Sergei
* IGNATIEV Mikhail
* ESKOV Nikita
* BRUTT Pavel
VANDENBERGH Styn
TRUSSOV Nicolaï
POZZATO Filippo
KHALILOV Mikhaylo
IVANOV Serguei
GALIMZYANOV Denis
BODROGI Laszlo
BANDIERA Marco

LAMPRE - FARNESE (LAM)
Sporting Manager : BONTEMPI Fabrizio
* RIGHI Daniele
* MALORI Adriano
* FURLAN Angelo
* BONO Matteo
SAPA Marcin
LORENZETTO Mirco
HONDO Danilo
GREMDEME Andrea
DA DALTO Mauro
BUTS Vitaliy
BERNUCCI Lorenzo
BALLONI Alfredo


LIQUIGAS-DOIMO (LIQ)
Sporting Manager : ZANATTA Stefano
* DALL’ANTONIA Tiziano
* CHICCHI Francesco
* BODNAR Maciej
WILLEMS Frederik
SAGAN Peter
SABATINI Fabio
QUINZIATO Manuel
OSS Daniel
KUCHYNSKI Aleksandr
KOREN Kristjan
GUARNIERI Jacopo

OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO (OLO)
Sporting Manager : FRISON Herman
* LÖWIK Gerben
* DELAGE Mickaël
VAN AVERMAET Greg
SCHEIRLINCKX Staf
ROELANDTS Jürgen
LANG Sebastian
HOSTE Leif
ELIJZEN Michiel
D’HOLLANDER Glenn
CRETSKENS Wilfried


QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM (QST)
 Sporting Manager : PEETERS Wilfried
* WYNANTS Maarten
* HOVELYNCK Kurt
* DE WEERT Kevin
WEYLANDT Wouter
VAN IMPE Kévin
TOSATTO Matteo
MAES Nikolas
HULSMANS Kevin
DEVOLDER Stijn
CHAVANEL Sylvain
BOONEN Tom


RABOBANK (RAB)
Sporting Manager : DEKKER Erik
* VAN WINDEN Dennis
* KRUIJSWIJK Steven
* KOZONTCHUK Dmitriy
* BROWN Graeme
VAN EMDEN Jos
TJALLINGII Maarten
STAMSNIJDER Tom
POSTHUMA Joost
LEEZER Tom
LANGEVELD Sebastian
FLENS Rick
BOOM Lars

SAUR-SOJASUN (SAU)
Sporting Manager : HEULOT Stéphane
* TALABARDON Yannick
* MANGEL Laurent
* GALLAND Jeremy
POULHIES Stéphane
MATHEOU Romain
MARTIAS Rony
LEMOINE Cyril
JEANDESBOZ Fabrice
ENGOULVENT Jimmy
COUTOULY Cédric
CASPER Jimmy

SKIL-SHIMANO (SKS)
Sporting Manager : KEMNA Rudi
* VISSERS Job
* JI Cheng
* DEROO David
* CORNU Dominique
WAGNER Robert
VEELERS Tom
HOUANARD Steve
GOESINNEN Floris
DOCKER Mitchell
DE KORT Koen
CURVERS Roy
CHAIGNEAU Robin

TEAM SAXO BANK (SAX)
Sporting Manager : SCHMIDT Torsten
* KLEMME Dominik
* JORGENSEN Jonas
RASMUSSEN Alex
O’GRADY Stuart
LARSSON Gustav
KLOSTERGAARD Kasper
HOJ Frank
COOKE Baden
CANCELLARA Fabian
BRESCHEL Matti

TEAM HTC - COLUMBIA (THR)
Sporting Manager : HOLM Brian
* SARAMOTINS Aleksejs
* GRABSCH Bert
* GHYSELINCK Jan
* DOCKX Gert
VELITS Martin
SIEBERG Marcel
ROULSTON Hayden
REYNES MIMO Vicente
HANSEN Adam
GOSS Matthew Harley
EISEL Bernhard B
AK Lars

TEAM MILRAM (MRM)
Sporting Manager : GRABSCH Ralf
* SCHRÖDER Björn
* FOTHEN Thomas
WROLICH Peter
VOSS Paul
TERPSTRA Niki
SENTJENS Roy
KNAVEN Servais
KLUGE Roger
EICHLER Markus
DE VOCHT Wim

TEAM RADIOSHACK (RSH)
Sporting Manager : DEMOL Dirk
VAITKUS Tomas
ROSSELER Sébastien
RAST Gregory
POPOVYCH Yaroslav
LEQUATRE Geoffroy
IRIZAR Markel
IMPEY Daryl
BEPPU Fumiyuki

TEAM SKY (SKY)
Sporting Manager : SUNDERLAND Scott
* VIGANO Davide
* HENDERSON Gregory
* DOWNING Russell
THOMAS Geraint
SUTTON Christopher
STANNARD Ian
HAYMAN Mathew
FLECHA Juan Antonio
BOASSON HAGEN Edvald
BARRY Michaël
ARVESEN Kurt-Asle

VACANSOLEIL PRO CYCLING TEAM (VAC)
 Sporting Manager : VAN DER SCHUEREN Hilaire
* VEUCHELEN Frederik
* VAN LEIJEN Joost
* VAN GROEN Arnoud
* BOZIC Borut
WESTRA Lieuwe
TRAKSEL Bobbie
PRONK Matthé
MOURIS Jens
MORTENSEN Martin
MOL Wouter
LEUKEMANS Bjorn
GARDEYN Gorik

 
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