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Paris-Roubaix: Stories to fall in love with hell

Paris-Roubaix: Stories to fall in love with hell

The classic Paris-Roubaix It is a race that is played on 19th -century roads with 21st century bicycles. Is he Cycling monument with capital letters. An annual appointment with the legend in a corner of northern border France with Belgium. Traditionally (except exceptions, such as 2021 and 2022), the second weekend of April is disputed, just after the Flanders Tour. [IRP posts = "7028" name = "The five monuments of cycling"] Known as The Hell of the North, the Paris-Roubaix consists of 250 km of torture. Fifty of them, by cobbled sections, which are concentrated in the second half of the route. Let's say after 100 km of heating, the craziness It unleashes.
It may interest you. What is needed to win the Paris-Roubaix? Is it so necessary to have experience in the test? We spoke with Saúl Miguel about. Saul is a cycling commentator in Eurosport and one of the people who best knows the cycling monuments.
You can visit here Saul's account on Twitter: KAPELMUUR29
Welcome to the unpredictable career. We go with some keys to understand the historical dimension of this event, which goes beyond cycling practice.

How did the Paris-Roubaix arise?

The Paris-Roubaix was born in 1895 thanks to Two textile entrepreneurs of the Roubaix region: Théodore Vienne and Mauricio Pérez (of Spanish descent). They promoted the construction of a velodrome and decided to create a cycling career to promote it. Would start from Paris and end The city of the thousand chimneys. In this way they called Roubaix at the end of the 19th century, thanks to its industrial vigor. They had the support of the Sports newspaper See him. In its origin, it was conceived as a Training for Bordeaux-Park (600 km), which was the most famous race of the time. The first winner was the German Joseph Fischer. He reached the goal with 25 ’advantage over the second classified, after a 280 km route at an average of 30 km/h. [Captation Id = "Attachment_7371" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "1500"]Paris Roubaix squad Image: ASO / Pauline Ballet.[/caption]

What are the most dramatic sections of the Paris Roubaix?

Paris Roubaix drama runs in its PAURE SHOES. In round numbers, there are 30 cobblestone sectors. None reaches 4 km, but everyone becomes eternal. Depending on their difficulty, they receive a five -star qualification. It depends on the length, layout and conservation status of the cobblestone.

What are the five -star sections and, therefore, the most demanding?

  • The section of Arenberg forest, almost swallowed by vegetation, it is one of the symbols of the race. It is true that his presence in the test dates back to 1968, an edition won by Eddy Merckx. It is the first of the three five -star sectors. Although it is located 100 km from the finish line, it usually causes the first major selection. It is not the longest section (2.4 km), but the cobblestones seem like randomly scattered. Many cyclists hurry the gutters to save them and falls are frequent. It is often said that in Arenberg you don't win the Roubaix, but it is the place where more than one loses it. Here the route runs under the viaduct, where coal trains circulated in distant times. [Captation id = "Attachment_7388" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "900"]Paris Roubaix Image: ASO / Pauline Ballet.[/caption]
  • The second five -star section is Mons-in-Pévèle. It is 3,000 meters long and is 50 km from finish. Let's say marks the beginning of the end of Hell of the North. A devilish path with ninety -degree curves adds even more drama. Gross skill and strength are essential here.
  • Located just 15 km to the end, the Carrefour de l'Arebre It is the last five stars that cyclists face after an exhausting path. Then, it will be a matter of just three simple sectors before the finish line.

Other stretches of interest

Although they are not five stars, there are more sections that deserve a comment. One of them is Troisville, the first cobbled stretch of the race. For this reason, it is nervous. The runners look for their position and the tension is cut with a knife. It is a descending section, so the speed is high and the punctures are frequent. In addition, it is a point where the mud is usually accumulated, even in splendid sun days. [Captation Id = "Attachment_7386" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "900"]Paves de la Paris Roubaix Image: ASO / Pauline Ballet.[/caption] Another remarkable sector is Orchies. Located about 60 km, it is not especially long (1.7 km), but the stones here are bestial. Cyclists must negotiate them between the crowd, curves and clouds of dust, which generates stamps of true chaos. And finally, we must not forget the entrance to the goal zone. An arrival located in the Velodrome André Pétrieux, to which cyclists must take a walk and a half before ending martyrdom. A ring, on the other hand, somewhat ramshackle that is filled with light once year. The war made theirs here: the wooden track was shattered and was replaced by cement. [Captation Id = "Attachment_7375" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "1500"]Paris Roubaix Meta Image: ASO / Fabien Boukla.[/caption]

How important are volunteers?

The work of volunteers in this test is essential. Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix It is the name of an association whose objective is to preserve the cobblestones of the Paris-Roubaix. Maintenance work is essential. A good part of the cobblestone is an agricultural use zone that suffers with ice, rains, tractors passage, etc. The pavés of Hell of the North is declared Cultural Heritage of the Hauts-De-France region. However, this does not prevent cobblestone theft is common throughout the year. Each spring, Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix, with the help of some professional training schools, it deals with replacing the cobblestones, whose weight is around 5 kg! Almost nothing. During the rest of the year, the association makes an intense lDissemination through various publications. It is also the collective that delivers the Victory Trophy to the winner of the test, which since 1977 is a real carved cobblestone. [Captation id = "Attachment_7377" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "1500"]Paris Roubaix winner Image: ASO / Pauline Ballet.[/caption]

The Paris-Roubaix showers

In 1928, they built outdoor The showers of the Roubaix school. They built them next to the velodrome where the test ends and today they are a place of worship for cycling lovers. In the 90s, team buses included were generalized. Until then, a good part of the platoon waited for his turn to clean the dirt just after the race. Today they are still used by the occasional nostalgic corridor determined to maintain tradition. Philippe Gilbert (Winner in 2019) He usually recalls that in his debut in the Paris-Roubaix (2007), its team director in FDJ (Marc Madiot) forced all its cyclists to go through those showers "to live a part of the history of cycling " Each concrete cabin has a plaque in memory of each of the winners of the race, which contributes to perpetuating the legend. [Captation id = "Attachment_7379" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "1500"]Paris Roubaix showers Image: ASO / Pauline Ballet.[/caption]

Why call Paris-Roubaix The Hell of the North?

You may think that the origin has to do with the extreme hardness of the test. Mistake. Between 1915 and 1918, the great war prevented the dispute of the Paris-Roubaix. In 1919, two journalists of L'Auto They traveled north of France with the intention of resuming the celebration of the race. For those years, L'Auto It was the newspaper that organized the test. One of them, Eugène Christophe, when contemplating the panorama, he referred to this territory as The Hell of the North. Next to your partner, Victor Breyer, attended an apocalyptic landscape. In their chronicles they talked about "Obuses, tombs everywhere, trees that look like skeletons, houses turned into bare walls, rubble ...". In spite of everything, the 1919 edition was finally played as a form of overcoming of the drama that for all the war. 100 cyclists participated and the French won Henri pelissier. Without a doubt, a physical and psychological challenge.

The first female Paris-Roubaix

One of the great milestones of the recent history of the Paris-Roubaix was the celebration of the female test. In 2021, the British cyclist Lizzie Deignan It became the first champion after a solo attack at almost 100 km by finish. He crossed the finish line with blood stained handlebars, one more test of the hardness of the route. The award designated for the winner that year was € 1,535, which contrasts with the € 30,000 for the male winner. [Captation Id = "Attachment_7381" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "1500"]Paris Roubaix female Image: ASO / Fabien Boukla.[/caption]

Mythical cyclists from Paris-Roubaix

If the Paris-Roubaix is ​​LCycling eye, it is thanks to its main actors: cyclists. Historically, the Belgians have been dominators, with 57 victories of the 118 editions held. Belgians are Roger de Vlaeminck and Tom Boonen, the only ones who have managed to beat four times. After them, French (28 victories), Italians (14), Dutch (6) and Swiss (4). And what about the Spaniards? Let's say that cycling monuments have not been paid for them. And a test as specific as the Paris-Roubaix, even less. Yes, we must highlight Miguel Poblet (third in 1960) and especially Juan Antonio Flecha (2nd in 2007 and 3rd in 2005 and 2010).

Cyclists who have made history in Paris-Roubaix

Here are some names that have made history in The Hell of the North.
  • Roger de Vlaeminck (Belgium). Nicknamed Monsieur Paris-Roubaix, shares with Tom Boonen the record of four victories (1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977). He is considered the undisputed teacher of the test. Skillful strategist and consummated Cyclocross corridor, retired in 1988. Eddy Merckx himself, which suffered One of his victories once said: "It is as if he knew the exact location of each cobblestone."
  • Tom Boonen (Belgium). Without a doubt, one of the best classic runners in cycling history. Consumed racing specialist with cobblestones, won four times the Paris-Roubaix (2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012). He also took the Flanders tour three times and was world champion on the route. His record is immense: the Roger of Vlaaminck of modern times. [Caption id = "Attachment_7390" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "900"]Paris Roubaix Tom Boonen Image: ASO / Pauline Ballet.[/caption]
  • Rik van Looy (Belgium). Winner of three editions (1961, 1962 and 1965) is the only cyclist in history that was able to win in the five monuments. Not even Merckx could achieve it. He won his last Roubaix when everyone was over. But his best performance occurred in an edition that did not win, in 1967. Ten runners arrived at the Roubaix Velodrome to play the victory. Among them, three world champions: the Dutchman Jan Janssen, the German Rudi Altig and Van Looy himself. And if that were not enough, also another that would win the World Cup that same year: Eddy Merckx. Van Looy was defeated by Janssen, but never a second place had so much victory flavor.
  • Eddy Merckx (Belgium). The cannibal He won three Paris-Roubaix (1968, 1970 and 1973). What was normal for him, was supernatural for the rest of the cyclists. In a race that is sometimes decided by centimeters, Merckx won in 1970 for more than five minutes: the biggest difference achieved by a winner since World War II. And it was precisely imposed on the Great Roger of Vlaaminck. [CAPTION ID = "Attachment_7393" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "900"]Paris Roubaix Eddy Merckx Image: ASO / G. demouveaux.[/caption]
  • Bernard Hinault (France). The Breton cyclist, winner of five editions of the Tour de France, took the Paris-Roubaix in 1981. However, he was the author of one of the most celebrated appointments of this race. "The Paris-Roubaix is ​​shit," he said after his victory. In that edition he suffered three falls, one of which was caused by a dog. This did not prevent him from winning alone with the world champion jersey. Inexplicable.
  • Fausto Coppi (Italy). Second in the editions of 1952 and 1955, the Italian champion did not lavish too much in Roubaix. However, in 1950 he crushed everyone with his talent, breaking the squad into a thousand pieces. He participated for the last time in 1959, a year before he died of malaria after a trip through Africa.
  • Fabián Cancellara (Switzerland). Spartacus He won three editions of the Paris-Roubaix (2006, 2010 and 2013). To the memory of his 2010 exhibition. 50 kilometers for finishing, he left solo from the favorite squad, caught a group of escapees and arrived solo to Roubaix with more than two minutes of rent on Thor Hushovd and Juan Antonio Flecha. Portentous. [Captation Id = "Attachment_7391" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "900"]Paris Roubaix Cancellara Image: ASO / BEARDY MCBEARD[/caption]
  • Gilbert Duclos-Lasssalle (France). His is the clear example of a love story with the Paris-Roubaix. In his first year as a professional (1980) he was already second. Since then, he was always considered a candidate for triumph. But this did not arrive. It was not until the end of his career when he finally reached his dream, at the age of 38. And did it twice: in 1992 and 1993. Destiny was written.
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