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Paris-Roubaix 2012 - The Queen of the Classics (257.5km)

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Paris-Roubaix 2012 - The Queen of the Classics (257.5km)

31 Mar 2012 14:07

Since the Flanders thread started more than a week before D-Day, I think we can start a thread on Paris-Roubaix now (for, of course, Flanders is only a prep race for the big one ;)).


Paris-Roubaix has three nicknames:

Hell of the North (I don't like it)
The Easter Race (I don't like it)

& The Queen of the Classics: I like it because I think it has the main features of what a monarch can be, prestige and uniqueness. You can say that Tour of Flanders resembles Harelbeke, Het Volk, etc., that Liège-Bastogne looks like all the Italian semis of Autumn but Paris-Roubaix is the one and only one !


In the early days, Paris-Roubaix was already known for its cobbles that were already in worse condition than everywhere else but it wasn't that unique since you could find cobbles everywhere. The race was rather known for its short distance compared to Bordeaux-Paris and Paris-Brest-Paris. In that respect the race shaped the future.

The course was totally different than the present-day one and by the 50's, that course gradually had less and less cobbled sections. Hence by 1966, the organizers decided to look for some old deserted cobbled paths in the Valenciennois and the Pévèle, no longer used by ordinary civilized traffic but for the driving of cattles.

That's how it became the Queen of the Classics. The only race that has been made more "archaic" than it used to be. And of course way harder.

Long flat cobbled sections, with almost no descent in between, that's its hardness.

I like quoting Charly Mottet who once said "If you wanna be a cycling rider, you've gotta finish Paris-Roubaix". I'll always pay my respect for all those who finish it, even the dead last ! even those who finish outside the time limits (who do not even deserve that). I always remember little Pablo Urtasun, in 2009, soloing for 60km to finish outside time limit while all of his group mates dismounted !!!

"Paris-Roubaix is do or die" said Madiot. If you're good, you hold through. If you aren't, you crash. What is a better symbol of fight.


Waiting for D-Day, I'll just share again the famous doco A Sunday in Hell (compulsory, lol)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4IDCkcnnHg

And this film from last year (this can't be done at any other race!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1QXKjc1nLY
Image
Image

http://www.cyclingfever.com/editie.html?_ap=startlijst&editie_idd=MjI5MDc=
Echoes
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31 Mar 2012 14:08

27 97,5 Troisvilles à Inchy 2,2
Added to the route in 1987, this section is also called the Rue de la Sucrerie, the first section for Duclos-Lassalle is deliverance (Troisville is a gloomy village, he says, which adds up to the stress)

26 104 Viesly à Quiévy 1,8
25 106,5 Quiévy à Saint-Python 3,7
24 111,5 Saint-Python 1,5
23 119,5 Vertain à Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon 2,3
22 126 Capelle-sur-Écaillon à Ruesnes 1,7
This one is also called the Hameau du Buat added to the race in 2005 by Duclos-Lassalle, as a substitute for the Arenberg Forest (though it remained after the Forest had been re-added). It's only section that also is a proper climb. Around 6%. The Belgian would call it the Eikenberg of the Valenciennois.



21 142 Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes - Famars 2,6

The section of Aulnoy was added last year to the course. It directly got a 5 star classification, which I find a bit over the top. But still a hard one. The consequence of this addition being the Forest is now 90km from finish.

20 145,5 Famars à Quérénaing 1,2
19 149 Quérénaing à Maing 2,5
18 152 Maing à Monchaux-sur-Écaillon 1,6
17 163,5 Haveluy à Wallers 2,5
Haveluy has now become the Pavé Bernard Hinault. In the shadow of Arenberg it's still a 4-star section, which had been restored last year by the "Amis de Paris-Roubaix: http://www.epl.raismes.educagri.fr/outils/actualites/detail-actualite/article/paris-roubaix-secteurs-paves-haveluy-wallers-helesmes-saint-martin.html

16 172 Trouée d’Arenberg 2,4

The big one. Most famous. Its real name is Drève des Boules d'Airain (Bronze Balls Drive, I would translate). The Dutch call it Het Bos van Wallers and the Anglos: The Arenberg Forest. The French call it La Trouée or Tranchée d'Arenberg. The entrance to Arenberg is definitely one of the greatest TV-moments of the year. Arenberg was discovered in 1968 by the late World Champion Jean Stablinski who was a former coal miner working under it. He was still an active rider in 1968 and raced on it, the only one to have worked above and below and got insults from his peers, ..of course. The addition of the sector gave Antoine Blondin the famous quote "The last insanity of the cycling sport". Arenberg is a straight section, the first part being distinctly descending, and the last part slightly uphill. It's the only section that needs barriers, which Madiot regrets because he enjoyed the communion between the riders and the public. In the name of safety, this picture has been dropped now.

Over the years riders started to master Arenberg. These two docos show the difference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTPNfr1apVo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm3-g7uWQ4Y
Image




15 178,5 Millonfosse à Bousignies 1,4

This section has been added last year. Its main asset is that it's very close after the Forest but doesn't seem that hard to me. I still regret the Wallers to Hélesmes section, which has been dropped after 2008 (in the name of safety again) and was an 1.6km long section (4 stars), 3k's after Arenberg. The Arenberg-Hélesmes combo was usually very harsh.

14 183 Brillon à Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes 1,1
14 185,5 Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières 2,4
13 192 Beuvry-la-Forêt à Orchies 1,4

Famous section. You often have an amateur Beuvry-la-Fôret GP around the section in August:

http://www.cyclisme-sport.fr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=614:grand-prix-de-beuvry-la-foret&catid=39:courses-francaises&Itemid=55
Image


12 197 Orchies 1,7


Famous 3-Star section, which shapes an L, the first between being known as Chemin des prières (Prayers Path) and the second one: Chemin des abattoirs (Slaughters Path). I guess it's the right order. Legend says Ocaña dismounted there and says: "Never this again, I'm a cyclist, not a tightrope walker." In the last 600m cobbles are very much coming apart.
Echoes
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31 Mar 2012 14:08

11 203 Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée 2,6
Lesser known than Orchies but harder. The last 1400m have been repaired by Les amis de Paris-Roubaix, last year and hence the full section is now in the race again.

10 208,5 Mons-en-Pévèle 3,0

5-Star section. According to Pecheux, the hardest (because, never really flat, very windy and a part of it is banking). Mons-en-Pévèle village is slightly uphill (Mons = Mount) and in the sixties you had a cobbled hill there called the Pas-Roland. That one was asphalted in 1968 and now the race takes the flat section outside the village. That's where the top guns often show up. The first 300m are a descending false flat, followed by a 800m uphill false flat and then a 90° corner.

Pas-Roland in 1967 [from my book "Paris-Roubaix: une journée en enfer" (L'Équipe)]
Image

Mons-en-Pévèle in the snow (love it): http://tignon.andre.free.fr/report.php?id=1074


9 215 Mérignies à Avelin 0,7
8 218 Pont-Thibaut à Ennevelin 1,4
Image


7 223,5 Templeuve - L’Épinette 0,2
7 224 Templeuve – Moulin de Vertain 0,5
The Vertain Mill is just cakewalk compared to others but this section has a story. A lady called Mrs Farine (ironically means flour in French), who was the widow of the former local newspaper Nord-Éclair, would visit the race every year in the sixties and remembered there was a cobbled section nearby the mill, which since then was covered with soil. So by 2001 they brought bobcats and everything around the mill and started excavating it and it was ready for the 2002 edition !!

It is very much plausible that some other sections are covered that way and might be excavated.

6 230,5 Cysoing à Bourghelles 1,3
6 233 Bourghelles à Wannehain 1,1
5 237,5 Camphin-en-Pévèle 1,8
Camphin en Pévèle is a 4-star section, just like the 2 previous and might well be a decider, just like in 2006 when Cancellara anticipated the Carrefour.

It's called Pavé de la Justice and has a big 90° turn after a few hectometers:

Image

4 240,5 Carrefour de l’Arbre 2,1

This is my own favourite. Legendary cobble added to the route in 1978 after the 1977 edition showed a new wave of asphalting around Templeuve forcing the organizers to move the start from Chantilly to Compiègne in order to search for other sections.

Carrefour de l'Arbre is very famous of its pub right in the middle of the section, which formerly was never open on the day of Paris-Roubaix (Sunday) and when the section was added, the pub would only open one day a year, the day of Paris-Roubaix.

Image

For Bernard Hinault, it's hardest because of the two 90° turns. One very close to the beginning on the left and the other one in the mid-section on the right. It's 5-star and 2.1k but the next section of Gruson is barely 100m further and hence we can say is an extension of the Carrefour.

In 2009 the Town Council wasn't pleased about the Flemish crowd dropping garbage on the ground and visiting the race in mobile home and strict measures have been taken ever since, which to me makes the sphere much sadder. : (

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Piq2tTv1mII
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGv-fK_xZKk

3 242,5 Gruson 1,1
2 249,5 Willems à Hem 1,4
This one is cakewalk, normally, but beware of puncture. Many top guns lost there.

1 256,5 Roubaix 0,3

This one in the streets of Roubaix is just a dessert, artificially made in the 90's and called Espace Crupelandt after the only Roubaisian to ever win Paris-Roubaix: Charles Crupelandt (in 1912 and 1914).
Echoes
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31 Mar 2012 15:07

Think the main contenders are gonna be
Canc
Boonen
Hushovd/Ballan combo
User avatar dlwssonic
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31 Mar 2012 15:15

Meh, Ill think about PR only after RVV has managed to sink in.
The Hitch: Winner 2013 Vuelta cq game. Winner, Velorooms prediction game 2012, 2013. 2nd all time cq rankings.
The Father of Clean Cycling, Christophe Bassons wrote:When I look at cycling today, I get the impression that history is repeating itself: riders who are supposed to be rouleurs are climbing passes at the front of the race, and those who are supposed to be climbers are riding time trials at more than 50 kilometres per hour.

The story is beginning again, just as it did 14 years ago


journalist with integrity.
User avatar The Hitch
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31 Mar 2012 15:22

And there was me thinking that Echoes would go on a crusade against people calling Paris-Roubaix a cobbled classic because it wasn't really cobbled at all in the 1950s.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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31 Mar 2012 16:28

Cancellara, Boonen, Hushovd to do the top 3
User avatar Vino attacks everyone
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31 Mar 2012 16:44

Irrelevant at least until Monday :cool:
Flamin
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31 Mar 2012 16:49

Funny that quote by Ocana, "Never this again, I'm a cyclist, not a tightrope walker". Great image too.

I wonder, have any of those bad sections of cobbles ever been repaired since his day?
User avatar on3m@n@rmy
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31 Mar 2012 17:07

Flamin wrote:Irrelevant at least until Monday :cool:


I'm up for a chat about Paris Roubaix on any day of the year :D
LugHugger
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31 Mar 2012 17:16

If Rujano rides would ride it, he would fly out of his saddle on the Bos van Wallers and record the highest VAM ever:D.

To be serious, I'll give an answer after Vlaanderen
Let us remember what happened on March 16th, 2014

The Hitch wrote:Red Rick. Road Race forum MVP 2014.


The Hitch wrote:#RedRick4RCSRaceDirector.
Red Rick
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31 Mar 2012 19:00

Lol @ Queen of the classics.

Liège is the oldest one deal with it.
User avatar Panda Claws
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31 Mar 2012 19:09

Libertine Seguros wrote:And there was me thinking that Echoes would go on a crusade against people calling Paris-Roubaix a cobbled classic because it wasn't really cobbled at all in the 1950s.


:eek:Didn't know that. Thing i've gotta read abit about the history of this race.
User avatar Bavarianrider
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31 Mar 2012 19:13

Libertine Seguros wrote:And there was me thinking that Echoes would go on a crusade against people calling Paris-Roubaix a cobbled classic because it wasn't really cobbled at all in the 1950s.


Erm...yes it was. The main roads became less and less cobbled in the 50's and 60's though. That's why the start moved to Compiegne and the final was concentrated between Valenciennes and Roubaix.
rghysens
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31 Mar 2012 19:26

Panda Claws wrote:Lol @ Queen of the classics.

Liège is the oldest one deal with it.


LOL back - the oldest does not make it the Queen. Long live the Queen (of the Classics ... P-R)

.
.
.

and the oldest! :D
"If you're going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill
User avatar elapid
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31 Mar 2012 20:14

on3m@n@rmy wrote:I wonder, have any of those bad sections of cobbles ever been repaired since his day?


The likes of the Veloclub Roubaix and the local municipalities regularly undertaken maintenance on the secteurs - many have designated protected status. Arenberg itself received extensive maintenance about 6 years ago - I was worried that it would end-up like the Muur after 2004 and lost much of its challenge, because there wasn't the need to fight for the only 2 feet of rideable road. Fortunately, the work mainly was to stabilise loose stones and remove much of the mud, rather than reset them evenly. Whilst Arenberg is barriered-off to traffic, many of the others aren't.

A big factor in recent events is that they have all been dry - it's over 10 years since we had a wet one
Monty Dog
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31 Mar 2012 20:19

Monty Dog wrote:A big factor in recent events is that they have all been dry - it's over 10 years since we had a wet one


it makes you think how bad the humans piszed off god lol.
we want some rain next sunday please :cool:
Vino 4ever
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31 Mar 2012 20:39

elapid wrote:LOL back - the oldest does not make it the Queen. Long live the Queen (of the Classics ... P-R)

.
.
.

and the oldest! :D


First P-R: 1896
First LBL: 1892

:rolleyes:
User avatar Panda Claws
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31 Mar 2012 20:43

Panda Claws wrote:First P-R: 1896
First LBL: 1892

:rolleyes:


So? As I said, just because LBL is the oldest of the Springs Classics does not make it the Queen of the Classics. P-R will ALWAYS be the Queen of the Classics.

P.S. My reference to the "and the oldest" was a nod to LBL (as in long live the oldest spring classic, LBL) and not saying that P-R was older.
"If you're going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill
User avatar elapid
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31 Mar 2012 21:14

rghysens wrote:Erm...yes it was. The main roads became less and less cobbled in the 50's and 60's though. That's why the start moved to Compiegne and the final was concentrated between Valenciennes and Roubaix.


I was poking gentle fun at Echoes because they start the Milan-San Remo thread every year (and at least one thread in the interim) to complain about how only complete fools would call it a sprinters' race, because back in the 70s and 80s sprinters couldn't, and didn't, win it. Never mind that 2/3 of the editions in the last 15 years have been sprints. And when Gerrans won, they posted repeatedly about how they were right and we were wrong because it wasn't a sprint.

Hence how, because once upon a time there weren't that many cobbled sections in Paris-Roubaix, Echoes should be posting incessantly to remind us it's not really a cobbled race.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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