|Local name(s)||Paris–Roubaix (French)|
|Nickname(s)||The Hell of the North
Queen of the Classics
The Easter race
A Sunday in Hell
|Type||Monument one-day race|
|Organiser||Amaury Sport Organisation|
|Editions||107 (as of 2009)|
|First winner||Josef Fischer|
|Most wins|| Roger De Vlaeminck
|Most recent||Tom Boonen|
Paris–Roubaix is a one-day professional bicycle road race in northern France near the Belgian frontier. Since its beginning in 1896 until 1967 it started in Paris and ended in Roubaix (hence the name); since 1968 the start city is Compiègne (about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north-east from Paris center), whilst the finish is still in Roubaix. Famous for rough terrain and cobblestones (setts),[n 1] it is one of the 'Monuments' or Classics of the European calendar, and contributes points towards the UCI World Ranking. It has been called the The Hell of the North, A Sunday in Hell, (which is also the title of a film about the 1976 edition of the race) Queen of the Classics or La Pascale: the Easter race. The race is organised by the media group Amaury Sport Organisation annually in mid-April.
First run in 1896, Paris–Roubaix is one of cycling's oldest races. It is well known for the many 'cobbled sectors' over which it runs, being considered, along with the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem to be one of the cobbled classics. Since 1977, the winner of Paris–Roubaix has received a sett (cobble stone) as part of his prize. In recent years, the terrain over which Paris–Roubaix runs has led to specialized bikes, with unique frames and wheels, being used. Wheel punctures and other mechanical problems are extremely common because of this terrain, and often play a part in who is able to ultimately make it to Roubaix with momentum.
Despite the high esteem with which the race is seen, some notable cyclists throughout history have regarded the race as a joke because of its difficult conditions. The race has also seen several controversies over the years, with many seeming winners of the race disqualified for various reasons.
The course is maintained by Les Amis de Paris–Roubaix, a group of fans of the race formed in 1983. The forçats du pavé seek to keep the course as safe as possible for riders while maintaining its difficulty.
The race has been televised for that last few years on the Versus television network in the U. S. beginning on March 15th in 2010.
Paris–Roubaix is one of the oldest races of professional road cycling. It was first run in 1896 and has stopped only for two world wars. The race was created by two Roubaix textile manufacturers, Théodore Vienne (born 28 July 1864) and Maurice Perez. They had been behind the building of a velodrome on 46,000 square metres at the corner of the rue Verte and the route d'Hempempont, which opened on 9 June 1895.
Vienne and Perez held several meetings on the track, one including the first appearance in France by the American sprinter Major Taylor, and then looked for further ideas. In February 1896 they hit upon the idea of holding a race from Paris to their track. This presented two problems. The first was that the biggest races started or ended in Paris and that Roubaix might be seen as too provincial a destination. The second was that they could organise the start or the finish but not both.
They spoke to Louis Minart, the editor of Le Vélo, the only French daily sports paper. Minart was enthusiastic but said the decision of whether the paper would organise the start and provide publicity belonged to the director, Paul Rousseau. Minart may also have suggested an indirect approach because the mill owners recommended their race not on its own merits, but as preparation for another. They wrote:
Dear M. Rousseau, Bordeaux-Paris is approaching and this great annual event which has done so much to promote cycling has given us an idea. What would you think of a training race which preceded Bordeaux-Paris by four weeks? The distance between Paris and Roubaix is roughly 280km, so it would be child's play for the future participants of Bordeaux-Paris. The finish would take place at the Roubaix vélodrome after several laps of the track. Everyone would be assured of an enthusiastic welcome as most of our citizens have never had the privilege of seeing the spectacle of a major road race and we count on enough friends to believe that Roubaix is truly a hospitable town. As prizes we already have subscribed to a first prize of 1,000 francs in the name of the Roubaix velodrome and we will be busy establishing a generous prize list which will be to the satisfaction of all. But for the moment, can we count on the patronage of Le Vélo and on your support for organising the start?
The proposed first prize represented seven months' wages for a miner at the time.
Rousseau was enthusiastic and sent his cycling editor, Victor Breyer, to find a route. Breyer travelled to Amiens in a Panhard driven by his colleague, Paul Meyan. The following morning Breyer - later deputy organiser of the Tour de France and a leading official of the Union Cycliste Internationale - continued by bike. The wind blew, the rain fell and the temperature dropped. Breyer reached Roubaix filthy and exhausted after a day of riding on cobbles (setts). He swore he would send a telegram to Minart urging him to drop the idea, saying it was dangerous to send a race the way he had just ridden. But that evening a meal and drinks with the team from Roubaix changed his mind.
Vienne and Perez scheduled their race for Easter Sunday. The Roman Catholic Church objected, suggesting that riders would not have time to attend mass and spectators might not bother to attempt attendance[n 2]. Tracts were distributed in Roubaix decrying the venture. What happened next is uncertain. Legend says that Vienne and Perez promised the church that a mass would be said for the riders in a chapel 200m from the start, in the boulevard Maillot. The story is repeated by Pascal Sergent, the historian of the race, and by Pierre Chany, historian of the sport in general. Sergent goes as far as saying that Victor Breyer, who he says was there, said the service was cancelled because 4am was too early. Neither mentions if the date of the race was subsequently changed.
However, the first Paris–Roubaix, Sergent says, was on 19 April 1896. But Easter Sunday in 1896 was two weeks earlier. The first Paris–Roubaix on Easter Sunday was the following year, 1897.
News of Breyer's ride to Roubaix may have spread. Half those who entered did not turn up at the Brassérie de l'Espérance, the race headquarters at the start. Those who dropped out before the race began included Henri Desgrange, a prominent track rider who went on to organise the Tour de France. The starters did include Maurice Garin, who went on to win Desgrange's first Tour and was the local hope in Roubaix because he and two brothers had opened a cycle shop in the boulevard de Paris the previous year.
Garin came third, 15 minutes behind Josef Fischer, the only German to have won the race to date. Only four finished within an hour of the winner. Garin would have come second had he not been knocked over by a crash between two tandems, one of them ridden by his pacers. Garin "finished exhausted and Dr Butrille was obliged to attend the man who had been run over by two machines," said Sergent. He won the following year, beating Dutchman Mathieu Cordang in the last two kilometres of the velodrome at Roubaix.[n 3] Sergent said:
As the two champions appeared they were greeted by a frenzy of excitement and everyone was on their feet to acclaim the two heroes. It was difficult to recognise them. Garin was first, followed by the mud-soaked figure of Cordang. Suddenly, to the stupefaction of everyone, Cordang slipped and fell on the velodrome's cement surface. Garin could not believe his luck. By the time Cordang was back on his bike, he had lost 100 metres. There remained six laps to cover. Two miserable kilometres in which to catch Garin. The crowd held its breath as they watched the incredible pursuit match. The bell rang out. One lap, there remained one lap. 333 metres for Garin, who had a lead of 30 metres on the Batave.
A classic victory was within his grasp but he could almost feel his adversary's breath on his neck. Somehow Garin held on to his lead of two metres, two little metres for a legendary victory. The stands exploded and the ovation united the two men. Garin exulted under the cheers of the crowd. Cordang cried bitter tears of disappointment.
The race usually leaves riders caked in mud and grit, from the cobbled roads and rutted tracks of northern France's former coal-mining region. However, this is not how this race earned the name l'enfer du Nord, or Hell of the North. The term was used to describe the route of the race after World War I. Organisers and journalists set off from Paris in 1919 to see how much of the route had survived four years of shelling and trench warfare. Procycling reported:
They knew little of the permanent effects of the war. Nine million had died and France lost more than any. But, as elsewhere, news was scant. Who even knew if there was still a road to Roubaix? If Roubaix was still there? The car of organisers and journalists made its way along the route those first riders had gone. And at first all looked well. There was destruction and there was poverty and there was a strange shortage of men. But France had survived. But then, as they neared the north, the air began to reek of broken drains, raw sewage and the stench of rotting cattle. Trees which had begun to look forward to spring became instead blackened, ragged stumps, their twisted branches pushed to the sky like the crippled arms of a dying man. Everywhere was mud. Nobody knows who first described it as 'hell', but there was no better word. And that's how it appeared next day in the papers: that little party had seen 'the hell of the north.'
The words in L'Auto were:
We enter into the centre of the battlefield. There's not a tree, everything is flattened! Not a square metre that has not been hurled upside down. There's one shell hole after another. The only things that stand out in this churned earth are the crosses with their ribbons in blue, white and red. It is hell! '
|“||This wasn't a race. It was a pilgrimage.||”|
Seeking the challenge of racing on cobbles is relatively recent. It began at the same time in Paris–Roubaix and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, when widespread improvements to roads after the second world war brought realisation that the character of both races were changing. Until then the race had been over cobbles not because they were bad but because that was how roads were made. André Mahé, who won in 1948 (see below Controversies), said:
After the war, of course, the roads were all bad. There were cobbles from the moment you left Paris, or Senlis where we started in those days. There'd be stretches of surfaced roads and often there'd be a cycle path or a pavement [sidewalk] and sometimes a thin stretch of something smoother. But you never knew where was best to ride and you were for ever switching about. You could jump your bike up on to a pavement but that got harder the more tired you got. Then you'd get your front wheel up but not your back wheel. That happened to me. And then you'd go sprawling, of course, and you could bring other riders down. Or they'd fall off and bring you down with them. And the cycle paths were often just compressed cinders, which got soft in the rain and got churned up by so many riders using them and then you got stuck and you lost your balance. And come what may, you got covered in coal dust and other muck. No, it's all changed and you can't compare then and now.
The coming of live television prompted mayors along the route to surface their cobbled roads for fear the rest of France would see them as backward and not invest in the region. Albert Bouvet, the organiser, said: "If things don't change, we'll soon be calling it Paris–Valenciennes," reference to a flat race on good roads that often ends in a mass sprint. L'Équipe said: "The riders don't deserve that." Its editor, Jacques Goddet, called Paris–Roubaix "the last great madness of cycling." Bouvet and Jean-Claude Vallaeys formed Les Amis de Paris Roubaix (see below). Its president, Alain Bernard, led enthusiasts to look for and sometimes maintain obscure cobbled paths. He said:
|“||Until the war, Paris–Roubaix was all on routes nationales. But many of those were cobbled, which was the spirit of the race, and the riders used to try to ride the cycle paths, if there were any. So Paris–Roubaix has always been on pavé, because pavé was what the roads were made of. Then in 1967 things began to change. There was less pavé than there had been. And so from 1967 the course started moving to the east to use the cobbles that remained there. And then those cobbles began to disappear as well and we feared that Bouvet's predictions were going to come true. That's when we started going out looking for old tracks and abandoned roads that didn't show up on our maps.
In the 1970s, the race only had to go through a village for the mayor to order the road to be surfaced. Pierre Mauroy, when he was mayor of Lille , said he wanted nothing to do with the race and that he'd do nothing to help it. A few years ago, there was barely a village or an area that wanted anything to do with us. If Paris–Roubaix came their way, they felt they were shamed because we were exposing their bad roads. They went out and surfaced them, did all they could to obstruct us. Now they can't get enough of us. I have mayors ringing me to say they've found another stretch of cobbles and would we like to use them.
It was Alain Bernard who found one of the race's most significant cobbled stretches, the Carrefour de l'Arbre. He was out on a Sunday ride, turned off the main road to see what was there and found the last bad cobbles before the finish. It is a bleak area with just a bar by the crossroads. Bernard said:
|“||"Until then, it [the bar ('Cafe de l'Arbre')] was open only one day a year. In France, a bar has to open one day a year to keep its licence. That's all it did, because it's out in the middle of nowhere and nobody went there to drink any more. With the fame that the race brought it, it's now open all year and a busy restaurant as well."||”|
The Amis de Paris–Roubaix spend €10-15,000 a year on restoring and rebuilding cobbles. The Amis supply the sand and other material and the repairs are made as training by students from horticulture schools at Dunkirk, Lomme, Raismes and Douai. Each section costs €4-6,000, paid for equally by the Amis, the organisers and the local commune. Bernard said:
|“||"The trouble is that the Belgians then come out to see the race and they pull up a cobble stone each and take it home as a souvenir. They've even gone off with the milestones. It's a real headache. But I'm confident now that Paris–Roubaix is safe, that it will always be the race it has always been."||”|
The strategic places where earlier races could be won or lost include Doullens Hill, Arras, Carvin and the Wattignies bend. Some sections of cobbles have deteriorated beyond the point of safety and repair or have been resurfaced and lost their significance. Other sections are excluded because the route of the race has moved east.
Early races were run behind pacers, as were many competitions of the era. The first pacers were other cyclists, on bicycles or tandems. Cars and motorcycles were allowed to pace from 1898. The historian Fer Schroeders says:
In 1898, even cars and motorcycles were allowed to open the road for the competitors. In 1900, the race was within a hair's breadth of disappearing, with only 19 riders at the start. The following year, the organisation therefore decided to allow help only from pacers on bicycles. And in 1910, help from pacers were stopped for good. An option which lifted Paris–Roubaix out of the background and pushed it, in terms of interest, ahead of the prestigious Bordeaux-Paris.[n 4]
Originally, the race was from Paris to Roubaix, but in 1966 the start moved to Chantilly, 50 km north, then in 1977 to Compiègne, 80 km north. From Compiègne it now follows a 260 km winding route north to Roubaix, hitting the first cobbles after 100 km. During the last 150 km the cobbles extend more than 50 km. The race culminates with 750m on the smooth concrete of the large outdoor velodrome in Roubaix. The route is adjusted from year to year as older roads are resurfaced and the organisers seek more cobbles to maintain the character of the race - in 2005, for example, the race included 54.7 km of cobbles.
The race has started at numerous places:
The opening kilometres (the départ fictif) have often been a rolling procession. Racing has started further into the ride (départ réel). The start of open racing has been at:
The organiser, Jean-François Pescheux, grades the cobbles by length, irregularity, the general condition and their position in the race.
In 2008, there were 28 cobbled sections, three considered maximum difficulty. As well as the Trouée d'Arenberg, difficult sections include the 3000m Mons-en-Pévèle (213 km) and the 2100 m Carrefour de l'Arbre (244 km) — often decisive in the final kilometres. The 28 sectors are:
|28||Troisvilles to Inchy||98||2200|
|27||Viesly to Quiévy||104||1800|
|26||Quievy to Saint Python||106,5||3700|
|24||Vertain to Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon||119||2000|
|23||Capelle-sur-Ecaillon - Le Buat||126||1700|
|22||Verchain-Maugré - Quérénaing||138||1600|
|21||Quérénaing - Maing||141||2500|
|20||Maing - Monchaux-sur-Écaillon||144||1600|
|18||Trouée d'Arenberg ()||163,5||2400|
|17||Wallers - Hélesmes||170||1600|
|16||Hornaing - Wandignies-Hamage||176,5||3700|
|15||Warlaing - Brillon||184||2400|
|14||Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes - Sars-et-Rosières||187,5||2400|
|13||Beuvry-la-Forêt - Orchies||194||1400|
|11||Auchy-lez-Orchies - Bersée||205||1200|
|9||Mérignies – Pont-à-Marcq||216,5||700|
|8||Pont Thibaut to Ennevelin||219,5||1400|
Templeuve Le Moulin de Vertain
|6||Cysoing - Bourghelles
Bourghelles - Wannehain
|4||Le Carrefour de l'Arbre||242||2100|
|1||Roubaix 'Espace Charles Crupelandt'||257,5||300|
Length - 2,200m
First used 1987. The highest of all the cobbles at 136m. A memorial to Jean Stablinski is at the entrance to the road. The section drops 900m at two per cent. Students of the Lycée Professionnel Horticole de Raismes planted a hedge in November 2007 to prevent flowing mud. The section climbs gently for the next 900m on to the plateau at 121m. This section is often difficult because of mud. The right-angled left bend towards Inchy is made difficult by mud. The road then drops at 3.2 per cent for 400m.
Cobbles rated . The cobbles are in fairly good condition except at the end. The second part, after the main road, is always muddy.
Length - 1,800m.
First used in 1973. This section is slightly descending, dropping evenly from 120m to 100m. It is almost entirely straight, although muddy in parts.
Length - 3,700m
First used in 1973. This section crosses two regional roads, D113b and D134. This and the section from Hornaing to Wandignies-Hamage are the longest. The section rises from 95 to 117m. It begins with a gentle drop, continues with a gentle rise for 600m, then an almost entirely flat section. Having been straight, there is then a difficult 90-degree right bend that leads to a 2 km uphill drag that riders find exhausting.
Cobbles rated . Fairly good condition. The regional council relaid the cobbles at the end of the section in 2007. The beautiful farm of Fontaine au Tertre is on the left at the end of the cobbles.
Length - 1,500m
First used in 1973. The start is at 104m, the end at 82m. The road is almost straight, starting with 500 flat metres then a 1 km descent to Saint-Python.
Length - 1,900m plus 100m from which the tar has been removed.
First used in 1985. It drops from 105m to 89m in almost a straight line apart from a small bend to the left in the middle.
Length - 1,700m.
First used in 2005. Rising from 91m to 102m in almost a straight line, it starts with a four percent drop over 700m, then rises from 66m to 400m at seven per cent, followed by a slow rise of two percent for 500m. The steepest part of the course, ridden by specialists on a 46-tooth ring.
Length - 1,600m.
Possibly first used in 1974 . Virtually level - 80m to 78m, virtually straight, rising a little and then descending gently for a greater distance.
Length - 2,500m
First used in 1996 and thereafter always used in the same direction. The road is the D59, falling from 85m to 40m in a straight line. It starts with a gentle descent to 72m over 400m, then a slight rise for 400m. Then comes a flat stretch followed by a long descent of between 2.5 and 3.8 per cent.
Length - 1,600m.
First used in 2001. The road is the D88, rising from 47 to 50m in an almost straight line. It begins with a slight rise for 1,000m, then a slow descent for 600m.
Length - 2,500m.
First used in 2001 and every year since. This is the Bernard Hinault section, named in his presence on 28 March 2005 by the municipality. This section is sometimes used by the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque. It starts at 31m and finishes at 34m. It begins with a gentle rise and finishes with a gentle fall.
Length - 2,400m.
First used in 1968. A straight road through the forêt domaniale de Raismes/Saint-Amand/Wallers, dropping slightly at first, then rising. The altitude is 25m at the start and 19m at the end.
The Trouée d'Arenberg, Tranchée d'Arenberg, (Trench of Arenberg), Trouee de Wallers Arenberg, has become the symbol of Paris–Roubaix. Officially 'La Drève des Boules d'Herin', the 2400m of cobbles were laid in the time of Napoleon I through the Raismes Forest-Saint-Amand-Wallers, close to Wallers and Valenciennes. ( ) The road was proposed for Paris–Roubaix by former professional Jean Stablinski, who had worked in the mine under the woods of Arenberg. The mine closed in 1990 and the passage is now preserved. Although almost 100 km from Roubaix, the sector usually proves decisive and as Stablinski said,
|“||Paris–Roubaix is not won in Arenberg, but from there the group with the winners is selected.||”|
A memorial to Stablinski stands at one end of the road.
Introduced in 1968, the passage was closed from 1974 to 1983 by the Office National des Fôrets. Until 1998 the entry to the Arenberg pavé was slightly downhill, leading to a sprint for best position. The route was reversed in 1999 to reduce the speed. This was as a result of Johan Museeuw's crash in 1998 as World Cup leader, which nearly cost his leg to gangrene. In 2005 the Trouée d'Arenberg was left out, organisers saying conditions had deteriorated beyond safety limits. Abandoned mines had caused sections to subside. The regional and local councils[n 6] spent €250,000 on adding 50 cm to restore the original width of three metres and the race continued using it. The Italian rider Filippo Pozzato said after trying the road after its repairs:
It's the true definition of hell. It's very dangerous, especially in the first kilometre when we enter it at more than 60kh. It's unbelievable. The bike goes in all directions. It will be a real spectacle but I don't know if it's really necessary to impose it on us.
What I went through, only I will ever know. My knee cap completely turned to the right, a ball of blood forming on my leg and the bone that broke, without being able to move my body. And the pain, a pain that I wouldn't wish on anyone. The surgeon placed a big support [un gros matériel] in my leg, because the bone had moved so much. Breaking a femur is always serious in itself but an open break in an athlete of high level going flat out, that tears the muscles. At 180 beats [a minute of the heart], there was a colossal amount of blood being pumped, which meant my leg was full of blood. I'm just grateful that the artery was untouched.
Gaumont spent a month and a half in bed, unable to move, and was fitted with a 40 mm section fixed just above the knee and, to the head of the femur, with a 12 mm screw.
Cobbles rated . The cobbles are extremely difficult to ride because of their irregularity. So many fans have taken away cobbles as souvenirs that the Amis de Paris–Roubaix have had to replace them.
Length - 1,600m.
First used in 1974 as a replacement for the Trouée. It is straight and level. The start is difficult, the road having partly collapsed, and the stones are irregular. This sector will not be ridden in 2009.
Length - 3,700m.
First used in 1983, the entire length being used first in 1988. The last 2,900m were used by the Tour de France in 2004. The road is the D130. It falls from 23 to 17m in the shape of an L. It is flat, starting with 800m in a straight line, followed by a turn to the right near two châteaux, then a straight line of 2,900m towards Wandignies-Hamage.
Length - 2,400m.
First used in 1983. The road is the D81, at 17m at each end, formed in an L shape. The first 400m is straight, then a right hand bend followed by a 2 km straight.
Length - 2,400m.
First used in 1980 but only for the first 1,400m. Used over its entire length from 1982. An L-shaped section of the D158b with two 90-degree right hand turns and one 90-degree to the left. Starts at 18m and finishes at 19m.
Length - 1,400m.
First used in 2007. The section was specially laid for the race, 700m of cobbles being added to 700m which was already there. The section was named after Marc Madiot in 2007. It rises slightly for the first half and is then flat.
Length - 1700m.
First used in 1980. The last 600 metres were used in the opposite direction for the first time in 1977. The section is L-shaped, the first 1,100m being flat and the last 600 slightly uphill.
Length - 1,200m.
First used in 1980. The second section, Nouveau Monde, was skipped in 2007 and 2008 due to the poor condition of the cobbles, but part of this section has since been repaired and will return to the race in 2009. The sector rises from 40 to 54m. It is almost flat in the form of a semi-circle.
Length - 3,000m
First used in 1978. Overall the 3,000m rises from 53m at the start to 63m at the end. It begins with a 300m drop of two per cent down to the Ruisseau La Petite Marque at 47m. This is followed by 800m that rise 3m. A 90 degree right hand turn to the rue du Blocus introduces a 800m straight that falls 2m and leads to a difficult, muddy, 90-degree left hand turn to the ruelle Flamande. The final 1,100m of the ruelle Flamande and Chemin de Randonnée Pédèstre rise 16m to Mérignies.
Mons-en-Pévèle, (Mons-en-Pévèle. It is one of the key sectors, one of the toughest and within 50 km of the finish. It has been used every year since 1978, 2001 excepted. In 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003, only the first 1,100m were used.), is the 10th section of pavé before the finish. Its 3,000m are rated the hardest level of difficulty, five stars. It is in the municipality of
Length - 700m.
First used in 1981. The road is the rue de la Rosée. It rises from 35 to 37m, almost straight.
Length - 1,400m.
First used in 1978. A flat double L shape with two 90 degree left hand turns.
Length - 200m.
First used in 1992. A straight line rising 2m.
Cobbles rated . Bad at first, then good.
Length - 500m.
First used in 2002. This section, covered by earth, was dug out for the 100th race. It drops from 38m to 33m in a straight line.
Length - 1,400m.
First used in 1981. Since 2006 it has included the 300m leading to Bourghelles. Known as the Duclos-Lassalle section, it is level and L-shaped, rising fractionally, descending, rising and then descending again to finish at its original height of 44m.
Cobbles rated . In good condition for the first 700m, bad for 300m to the right hand corner, and good again for the last 300m.
Length - 1,100m.
First used in 1992. A slight rise followed by a slight descent.
Cobbles rated . Fairly good condition at first and then hard to ride in the second half because of the irregular surface. Partly repaved with cobbles from the old road at Péronne-en-Mélantois taken by Paris–Roubaix in the 1950s.
Length - 1,800m.
First used in 1980. L-shaped, falling from 52 to 50m. The right-hand corner in the middle is difficult because of mud.
Length - 2,100m.
First used in 1980. An L-shaped section rising from 48 to 51m. Flat for 1,200m, then a difficult left-hand bend leading to a slight ascent.
Cobbles rated . Alternate good and bad sections. The section before the corner leading to the restaurant is particularly bad and hard to ride.
Length - 1,100m
First used in 1978. This section drops from 50m to 45m in a straight line.
Le Carrefour de l'Arbre (or Pavé de Luchin) is the fourth section of pavé before the finish in Roubaix. Its 2.1 km are rated at the hardest level of difficulty, five stars. The crossroads (carrefour) is on open land between Gruson and Camphin-en-Pévèle. The route departs westward from Camphin-en-Pévèle along the rue de Cysoing towards Camphin de l'Arbre. The first half is a series of corners, then along irregular pavé towards Luchin. The second half finishes at the Café de l'Arbre restaurant and has more even pavé. A sharp turn towards Gruson signals the start of sector 3, although this has sometimes been included in sector 4.
The Carrefour de l'Arbre / Pavé de Luchin sector has often proved decisive. This is due to its proximity to Roubaix (15 km) and cumulative difficulty, even it is regarded less challenging than the Trouée d'Arenberg. The leader at the completion of the Cafe has a good chance of leading at the velodrome, as Fabian Cancellara did in 2006 and Stuart O'Grady in 2007. As the last area where an attack could prove decisive, it is popular with spectators. It was also incorporated into stage 3 of the 2004 Tour de France between Waterloo and Wasquehal.
Length - 1,400m
This sector is believed to have been first used in 1968 but perhaps as early as the 1950s. A winding section rising from 25m to 30m. Always swept by wind. In 2004, Johan Museeuw suffered a puncture on this stretch, which cost him the chance to contest the sprint for a record-equalling fourth victory.
Length - 300m
The final stretch of cobbles before the stadium is named after a local rider, Charles Crupelandt, who won in 1912 and 1914. The organiser of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange, predicted he would win his race. He then went to war. He returned a hero, with the Croix de Guerre. Three years into peace, however, he fell foul of the law and was found guilty in court. The Union Vélocipédique banned him for life, possibly at the urging of rivals in cycling.
Crupelandt raced again but registered with an unofficial cycling association, with which he won national championships in 1922 and 1923. He died in 1955, blind and with both legs amputated.
This sector, dropping from 32m to 27m, is unofficially known as the 'Chemin des Géants,' [Road of the Giants]. It was first used 1996, having been created for the centenary by laying a strip of smooth new cobbles down the centre of the wide boulevard of the avenue Alfred Motte. Dotted among the cobbles are plaques to every race winner, the giants.
The finish until 1914 was on the original track at Croix, where the Parc clinic now stands. There were then various finish points:
The race moved to the current stadium in 1943, and there it has stayed with the exceptions of 1986, 1987 and 1988 when the finish was in the avenue des Nations-Unies, outside the offices of La Redoute, the mail-order company which sponsored the race.
The shower room inside the velodrome is distinctive for the open, three-sided, low-walled concrete stalls, each with a brass plaque to commemorate a winner. These include Peter Van Petegem, Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Rik van Looy and Fausto Coppi.
|“||When I stand in the showers in Roubaix, I actually start the preparation for next year.||”|
— Tom Boonen, 2004.
A commemorative plaque at 37 avenue Gustave Delory honours Émile Masson Jr., the last to win there.
Paris–Roubaix presents a technical challenge to riders, team personnel, and equipment. Special frames and wheels are often used. Some have wider tires, cantilever brakes, and dual brake levers. Many teams disperse personnel along the course with spare wheels, equipment and bicycles to help in locations not accessible to the team car.
André Mahé, winner in 1948, said such specialisation is recent:
|“||... [In 1948] We rode the same bikes as the rest of the season. We didn't need to change them because they were much less rigid than modern bikes. The frames moved all over the place. When I attacked, I could feel the bottom bracket swaying underneath me. On the other hand, we had more cobbles. People talk of the amount of cobbles they have now, but when they've finished them they're back on surfaced roads.||”|
Riders have experimented, however. After the second world war many tried wooden rims of the sort used at the start of cycle-racing. Francesco Moser wrapped his handlebars with strips of foam in the 1970s. Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle and Greg LeMond experimented with suspension in their front forks in the 1990s.
Some top riders receive special frames to give more stability and comfort. Different materials make the ride more comfortable. Tom Boonen, used a Time frame with longer wheelbase for the first time in 2005, he won the race that year and has since continued to use a bike with a longer wheelbase. George Hincapie had a frame featuring a 2 mm elastomer insert at the top of the seat stays. The manufacturers claimed this took nearly all the shock out of the cobbles. Hincapie's Trek bicycle fared less well in 2006: his aluminum steerer tube snapped with 46 km to go, the crash injuring his shoulder.
The bicycle made for Peter Van Petegem in 2004 was a Time. The distance from bottom bracket to rear axle was 419 mm rather than his normal 403. The distance from the bottom bracket to the front hub was 605 mm instead of 600 mm. The depth of the front forks was 372 mm instead of 367.5 mm The forks were spaced to take 28 mm tyres. The sprockets were steel rather than alloy and the steerer column was cut 5 mm higher than usual to raise the handlebars if needed before the start.
The bad roads cause frequent punctures. A service fleet consisting of four motorcycles and four cars provides spares to riders regardless of team. Yves Hézard of Mavic the equipment company which provides the coverage, said:
Every year we change fewer wheels, because the wheels and tyres are getting better and better. We changed about 20 wheels today. Five years ago, it was much worse - we'd be choosing about a hundred. Tyres are becoming much better than before. So, yes, our job is easier - except that the race generally goes faster now, so we're under a bit more pressure. Every year, there's new types of gears, new aluminium frames, new titanium frames, so it's getting more complex for us to offer neutral service. We have a list in the car of who is riding Mavic or Shimano or Campagnolo; the moment someone gets a flat tyre we need to think of a lot of things at once. Is it a titanium frame or a carbon frame or a steel frame?
In 1907, Georges Passerieu broke away from a small leading group just before Douai because he knew he couldn't outsprint them if they all finished together. He was chased all the way to Roubaix by a Belgian, Cyrille van Hauwaert, and tension in the velodrome was high. The crowd heard that Passerieu had reached the stadium but nobody rode on to the track. The leader was just about to ride in when a gendarme stepped into his path to check if his bicycle had the obligatory tax plate attached to it. Passerieu had already had a hard day and a shouting match broke out before he was allowed to continue.
In 1930, Jean Maréchal finished 24 seconds ahead of Belgian Julien Vervaecke but was moved to second because, while Maréchal was trying to pass Vervaecke, the Belgian tumbled into a ditch. According to some, Maréchal hit the Belgian's shoulder, causing his fall. Jacques Augendre, historian of the Tour de France, said Maréchal, who was 20, "was riding as an individual for a little bike-maker, Colin, and he got to Roubaix alone. His happiness was short-lived. Arbitrarily accused of having provoked a fall by Julien Vervaecke, with whom he had broken away, he was disqualified without any sort of hearing. Important detail: Vervaecke belonged to the all-powerful Alcyon team, run by the no less powerful Ludovic Feuillet..."
In 1936 the Belgian, Romain Maes, appeared to win but judges declared Frenchman Georges Speicher the winner and Maes second. Shouting began in the stands and for a moment it looked as though fighting would start, but calm returned and the result was upheld. A Belgian may not have won but there were seven Belgians in the first ten.
The result in 1949 took several months and two international conferences to sort out. André Mahé was first but his win was challenged because he took the wrong course. Mahé was in a break of three that reached Roubaix velodrome in the lead, but he was misdirected by officials and entered the track by the wrong gate. Mahé was declared winner but a few minutes later other riders arrived using the correct route and Serse Coppi, brother of famous Fausto, won the sprint for what was assumed to be the minor placings. After a protest and several months, Serse Coppi was named joint winner with Mahé. Mahé said in 2007:
C'est trop bête d'en parler (It's too stupid to talk about). There was a break. Coppi attacked. His brother Fausto gave him a push to get him away. He wanted his brother to win. I waited a bit and then I attacked and I caught him and the break. Then I went off by myself. I was going to win Paris–Roubaix. At the entrance to the vélodrome, there were crowds everywhere, blocking the way. I looked around for where to go and I was directed round the outside wall of the track, to where the team cars had to park. It wasn't like nowadays, when there's television and everything. Then it was more chaotic and the whole road was blocked. People said I should have known the way into the track. But how do you know a thing like that at the end of Paris–Roubaix, when you've raced all day over roads like that? A gendarme signalled the way to go and that's the way I went.
It was a journalist on a motorbike who managed to get up to me. He was shouting 'Not that way! Not that way!' And I turned round in the road and I rode back beneath the outside wall of the grandstand and I saw a gateway that went into the track, a gateway for journalists. And that's the way I went, except that it came out on the other side of the track from the proper entrance. The bunch came in and Serse won the sprint. But then his brother told Serse to go to the judges to object. He told Serse that I hadn't ridden the entire and precise course and that therefore I should be déclassé. But that was below him. Coppi wanted his brother to have a big victory. He was a great champion, Coppi, but to do what he did, to protest like that to get a victory for his brother, that wasn't dignified for a champion. That was below him. A champion like that should never have stooped that low. I never spoke to him about it. Never did. Why should I?
In 1981 Bernard Hinault said after winning the race on his first showing:
|“||Paris-Roubaix est une connerie - "Paris–Roubaix is bullshit" or "Paris–Roubaix is plain stupid".||”|
The only other time he rode it was the following year as the defending champion. When he was criticised, he said: "I don't go into offices and tell people to work harder, yet people ask me to be the strongest on the cobbles." Hinault fell seven times in that race, including 13 km from the finish when a small black dog called Gruson ran out in a bend and ran under his wheel. Hinault had been clear with Roger De Vlaeminck, Hennie Kuiper and Dirk de Meyer. The incident made Hinault angry and he raced back to the others and won in Roubaix.
In 2002 only two of the top 20 riders in the UCI table - Jens Voigt and Erik Zabel - were on the line. The following year only Zabel was there. In 2004 he had stayed at home as well. Philippe Brunel wrote in L'Équipe:
We won't go as far as say that the five-time winner of the Tour [Hinault] - who every year gives the winner his celebration cobble stone on behalf of the organisers - has contributed to the dilution [paupérisation] of the queen of classics, which would offend him, but his words have contributed to the snub, or the indifference, of those who stay away. The fact isn't new but the phenomenon is getting worse and is concerning. The peloton of stayaways has grown to the point where Paris–Roubaix is now only for a tight group of specialists... especially the Belgians, capable of maintaining high speed on the cobbles.
The 1988 race contained a rare spectacle where an early morning breakaway group held on until the finish. 27km into the race five unknown riders broke away and the pack did nothing to chase them down throughout the race. It was until on a section of cobblestones outside Roubaix that Thomas Wegmuller (SUI) and Dirk Demol (BEL) broke away from the lead group to try for the victory. As if the success of the breakaway wasn't enough, Paris-Roubaix was about to deliver a cruel irony.
When the two entered Roubaix, Wegmuller ran over a plastic bag that flew out in front of him, which became jammed in his derailleur. Wegmuller was unable to change gears which was cruical for a sprint finish. He got assistance from his team car to remove the bag, but his gears still would not change. Knowing that a bicycle change would be suicidal to his chances, Wegmuller continued on his damaged bike, Demol continued to draft behind him.
When it came down to the final sprint, Wegmuller could only watch as Demol sprinted past him to take the victory. Laurent Fignon finished third after a late breakaway from the chasing peloton.
In 2006 Leif Hoste, Peter Van Petegem and Vladimir Gusev were disqualified for riding through a closed train crossing 10 km before the finish and just ahead of an approaching freight train. Fabian Cancellara won and Tom Boonen and Alessandro Ballan were given the remaining places on the podium.
|“||I know the rules, yes, but I don't understand why nobody stopped us, and why nothing was said to us in the 10km that followed. All that just to be told two minutes before going to the podium that we had been disqualified. Cancellara deserved his victory but for me, I will always be in second place even though I have been disqualified.||”|
— Leif Hoste, L'Équipe, April 2006.
|“||"It's crazy. In Belgium they would have stopped the train."||”|
— Peter Van Petegem, April 2006
The American television channel CBS covered Paris–Roubaix in the 1980s. Theo de Rooij, a Dutchman, had been in a promising position to win the 1985 race but had then crashed, losing his chance of winning. Covered in mud, he offered his thoughts on the race to CBS' John Tesh after the race:
“It's a bollocks, this race!” said de Rooij. “You're working like an animal, you don't have time to piss, you wet your pants. You're riding in mud like this, you're slipping ... it’s a pile of shit.”
When then asked if he would start the race again, de Rooij replied:
“Sure, it's the most beautiful race in the world!”
Les Amis de Paris–Roubaix - the "friends" of the race - is an enthusiasts' group founded by Jean-Claude Vallaeys in 1983. It is based in France but open to members all over the world. It has its roots in the Paris–Roubaix Cyclo-Touriste of 1972. By 1982 there were 7,242 participants. There and at other events on the course, a petition calling for the cobbles to be saved gathered 10,000 signatures. Jean-Claude Valleys, Jean-François Pescheux[n 7] and the Vélo-club de Roubaix, which Vallaeys founded in 1966, formed Les Amis de Paris–Roubaix in 1982 at a photo exhibition at the Maison du Nord-Pas de Calais[n 8] in Paris.
Its aim was to find enough stretches of cobbled road to preserve the nature of the race. So many roads had been resurfaced that, as the organiser said, there was a risk that it would become a fast race on smooth roads won by sprinters rather than those who had fought through hell. Alain Bernard, who succeeded Vallaeys, says: "We have succeeded in that. Today, the association looks after the maintenance of these paths of legend, working with local administrations to preserve them. But alongside that, we also do other things to preserve the value of the race, building up an impressive collection of documents, holding exhibitions, honouring former winners, holding tours of the route."
Les Amis says it is too late to save the sector of Bersée, which was removed from the race because of its dangerous state in 2007. The situation is becoming critical, it says, at the Pont Gibus at Wallers, at Mons-en-Pévèle, Pont Thibaut at Ennevelin, the pavé of the Duclos-Lassalle section at Cysoing, and at Camphin-en-Pévèle.
"Their disappearance would be a fatal blow to the Queen of Classics," says the association.
Saturday 22 March: a cold wind sweeps the plain of Pévèle; alternating showers of hail, melted snow and cold rain. Not a day to venture outside... Nevertheless, at the foot of the Mons-en-Pévèle ridge, silhouettes busy themselves along the soaked cobble roadway. Backs bent against the gusts, they tirelessly scratch at the ground with primitive tools. Who are these dozen souls - A work-gang from a byegone era? Automatons? Treasure-hunters? No, these are members of the "Amis de Paris Roubaix", trying to clean off the mud and crusted earth left on the cobbles by farm work. They are on an important section of Paris–Roubaix and, without their intervention, the greatest of cycling classics, due to be held in only a few days, will not be able to come through... And without these cobbled routes, the Paris–Roubaix would disappear, depriving the whole world of one of sport's most intense and gripping events. This they know, and they'll be back again the two weekends before the race, far from the media and officials who will soon bustle here. The passion that drives them is much stronger than the bad weather. It has nothing to do with the current storms in the cycling world. These discrete servants of the "Queen of the Classics" have only one ambition - to clean the stones so that the when the day comes for the champion to be crowned they can hold their cobbled trophy high.
|1896||Josef Fischer (GER)||Diamant|
|1897||Maurice Garin (FRA)||La Française|
|1898||Maurice Garin (FRA)||La Française|
|1899||Albert Champion (FRA)|
|1900||Emile Bouhours (FRA)|
|1901||Lucien Lesna (FRA)|
|1902||Lucien Lesna (FRA)|
|1903||Hippolyte Aucouturier (FRA)||Peugeot|
|1904||Hippolyte Aucouturier (FRA)||Peugeot|
|1905||Louis Trousselier (FRA)||Peugeot-Wolber|
|1906||Henri Cornet (FRA)|
|1907||Georges Passerieu (FRA)||Peugeot-Wolber|
|1908||Cyrille van Hauwaert (BEL)||Alcyon-Dunlop|
|1909||Octave Lapize (FRA)||Biguet-Dunlop|
|1910||Octave Lapize (FRA)||Alcyon|
|1911||Octave Lapize (FRA)||La Francaise-Diamant|
|1912||Charles Crupelandt (FRA)||La Francaise-Diamant|
|1913||François Faber (LUX)||Peugeot-Wolber|
|1914||Charles Crupelandt (FRA)||La Française-Diamant|
|1919||Henri Pélissier (FRA)||JB Louvet & La Sportive|
|1920||Paul Deman (BEL)||La Sportive|
|1921||Henri Pélissier (FRA)||JB Louvet & La Sportive|
|1922||Albert Dejonghe (BEL)|
|1923||Heiri Suter (SUI)||Gurtner-Hutchinson|
|1924||Jules van Hevel (BEL)||Wonder-Russell|
|1925||Félix Sellier (BEL)||Alcyon-Dunlop|
|1926||Julien Delbecque (BEL)||Alcyon-Dunlop|
|1927||Georges Ronsse (BEL)||Automoto|
|1928||André Leducq (FRA)|
|1929||Charles Meunier (BEL)||La Française-Diamant|
|1930||Julien Vervaecke (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1931||Gaston Rebry (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1932||Romain Gijssels (BEL)||Dilecta-Wolber|
|1933||Sylvère Maes (BEL)||Alcyon-Dunlop|
|1934||Gaston Rebry (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1935||Gaston Rebry (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1936||Georges Speicher (FRA)||Alcyon|
|1937||Jules Rossi (ITA)||Alcyon|
|1938||Lucien Storme (BEL)||Leducq-Hutchinson|
|1939||Émile Masson Jr. (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1943||Marcel Kint (BEL)||Mercier-Hutchinson|
|1944||Maurice Desimpelaere (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1945||Paul Maye (FRA)||Alcyon|
|1946||Georges Claes (BEL)||Rochet-Dunlop|
|1947||Georges Claes (BEL)||Rochet-Dunlop|
|1948||Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL)||Mercier-Hutchinson|
|1949||André Mahé (Victory shared with Serse Coppi)||Stella Dunlop|
|1949||Serse Coppi (Victory shared with André Mahé)||Bianchi-Ursus|
|1950||Fausto Coppi (ITA)||Bianchi-Ursus|
|1951||Antonio Bevilacqua (ITA)||Benotto-Ursus|
|1952||Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL)||Mercier-Hutchinson|
|1953||Germain Derycke (BEL)||Alcyon-Dunlop|
|1954||Raymond Impanis (BEL)||Mercier-Hutchinson|
|1955||Jean Forestier (FRA)||Follis-Dunlop|
|1956||Louison Bobet (FRA)||L.Bobet-BP-Hutchinson|
|1957||Fred De Bruyne (BEL)||Carpano-Coppi|
|1958||Leon Vandaele (BEL)||Faema-Guerra|
|1959||Noël Foré (BEL)||Groene Leeuw-SAS|
|1960||Pino Cerami (BEL)||Peugeot-BP|
|1961||Rik van Looy (BEL)||Faema|
|1962||Rik van Looy (BEL)||Flandria-Faema|
|1963||Emile Daems (BEL)||Peugeot-BP|
|1964||Peter Post (NED)||Flandria-Romeo|
|1965||Rik van Looy (BEL)||Solo-Superia|
|1966||Felice Gimondi (ITA)||Salvarani|
|1967||Jan Janssen (NED)||Pelforth Sauvage-Le Jeune|
|1968||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Faema|
|1969||Walter Godefroot (BEL)||Flandria-De Clerck|
|1970||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Faema|
|1971||Roger Rosiers (BEL)||Bic|
|1972||Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)||Deher|
|1973||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Molteni|
|1974||Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)||Brooklyn|
|1975||Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)||Brooklyn|
|1976||Marc Demeyer (BEL)||Flandria-Velda|
|1977||Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)||Brooklyn|
|1978||Francesco Moser (ITA)||Sanson|
|1979||Francesco Moser (ITA)||Sanson|
|1980||Francesco Moser (ITA)||Sanson|
|1981||Bernard Hinault (FRA)||Renault-Elf-Gitane|
|1982||Jan Raas (NED)||TI-Raleigh|
|1983||Hennie Kuiper (NED)||Aernoudt Rossin|
|1984||Sean Kelly (IRL)||Skil-Sem|
|1985||Marc Madiot (FRA)||Renault-Elf-Gitane|
|1986||Sean Kelly (IRL)||Kas|
|1987||Eric Vanderaerden (BEL)||Panasonic-Isostar|
|1988||Dirk Demol (BEL)||AD Renting|
|1989||Jean-Marie Wampers (BEL)||Panasonic-Isostar|
|1990||Eddy Planckaert (BEL)||Panasonic-Sportlife|
|1991||Marc Madiot (FRA)||R.M.O.|
|1992||Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (FRA)||Z|
|1993||Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (FRA)||GAN|
|1994||Andrei Tchmil (UKR)||Lotto|
|1995||Franco Ballerini (ITA)||Mapei-GB|
|1996||Johan Museeuw (BEL)||Mapei-GB|
|1997||Frédéric Guesdon (FRA)||Française des Jeux|
|1998||Franco Ballerini (ITA)||Mapei-Bricobi|
|1999||Andrea Tafi (ITA)||Mapei-Quick Step|
|2000||Johan Museeuw (BEL)||Mapei|
|2001||Servais Knaven (NED)||Lotto-Adecco|
|2002||Johan Museeuw (BEL)||Lotto-Adecco|
|2003||Peter Van Petegem (BEL)||Lotto-Domo|
|2004||Magnus Bäckstedt (SWE)||Alessio-Bianchi|
|2005||Tom Boonen (BEL)||Quick Step-Innergetic|
|2006||Fabian Cancellara (SUI)||Team CSC|
|2007||Stuart O'Grady (AUS)||Team CSC|
|2008||Tom Boonen (BEL)||Quick Step|
|2009||Tom Boonen (BEL)||Quick Step|
Winners by country
The record held by Peter Post, was set on a different course.
Paris–Roubaix is sometimes compared to the other famous cobbled race, the Ronde van Vlaanderen in Belgium. Paris–Roubaix is flatter and has more difficult cobbles while the Ronde van Vlaanderen contains a series of hills, many on cobbles, like the Koppenberg or Kapelmuur. In addition to Paris–Roubaix and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, called the cobbled classics, other spring races like Ghent-Ghent and Gent-Wevelgem feature extensive cobbles.
|Heiri Suter (SUI)||1923|
|Romain Gijssels (BEL)||1932|
|Gaston Rebry (BEL)||1934|
|Raymond Impanis (BEL)||1954|
|Fred De Bruyne (BEL)||1957|
|Rik van Looy (BEL)||1962|
|Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)||1977|
|Peter Van Petegem (BEL)||2003|
|Tom Boonen (BEL)||2005|
The U23 Paris–Roubaix or Paris–Roubaix Espoirs is raced in the early summer.
The Paris–Roubaix Cyclo is organised by the Velo Club de Roubaix every other June. This allows amateurs to experience the cobbles, the finishing laps in the vélodrome, and the showers. There is a choice of three levels: 120 km, most of the cobbled sectors; 190 km all the cobbles; or the full 261 km. All finishers receive a small cobblestone on a wooden plinth.
|Local name(s)||Paris-Roubaix (French)|
|Nickname(s)||The Hell of the North|
Queen of the Classics
The Easter race
|Type||Monument one-day race|
|Organiser||Amaury Sport Organisation|
|Editions||105 (as of 2007)|
|First winner||GER Josef Fischer|
|Most wins||File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg BEL Roger De Vlaeminck|
|Most recent||AUS Stuart O'Grady|
Paris-Roubaix is a famous single-day professional bicycle road race held in northern France starting in Compiègne and finishing in Roubaix, near the Belgian frontier. It was one of the ten UCI Road World Cup races and became part of the UCI ProTour. It is one of the 'Classic cycle races' has the nickname The Hell of the North .
Paris-Roubaix is one of the oldest professional bicycle races. Théo Vienne and Maurice Perez got the idea to run the race and in 1896, the sports newspaper Le Vélo worked out original route between Paris and Roubaix. The race has been contested every year since 1896, stopped only by the two World wars.
The race is now organised by the media group Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) who also run the Tour de France.
Riders are often covered from head to toe in mud and grit, and race over the cobblestoned roads and hard rutted tracks of northern France. However, the race got the nickname l'enfer du Nord, or the Hell of the North from journalists who watched the race after world war I, and saw it pass through many of the ruins, craters, and destruction along the way.
Originally, the race was from Paris to Roubaix, but in 1966 the starting location was moved to Chantilly, 50 kilometres to the north of Paris, to be moved in 1977 to Compiègne, approximately 80 kilometres to the north of Paris. 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 54.7 kilometres of cobbled sections. The race finishes with 750 meters on the smooth concrete expanses of the large outdoor velodrome in Roubaix.
Due to its challenging course, and poor weather conditions, Paris-Roubaix presents a challenge to riders, team support personnel, and equipment alike. Special frames and wheels are often used specifically for Paris-Roubaix, in various configurations depending on the weather conditions.
|File:Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Italy||1897||Maurice Garin|
|File:Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Italy||1898||Maurice Garin|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1908||Cyrille Van Hauwaert|
|*||1915||World War I|
|*||1916||World War I|
|*||1917||World War I|
|*||1918||World War I|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1920||Paul Deman|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1922||Berten Dejonghe|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1924||Jules Van Hevel|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1925||Felix Sellier|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1926||Julien Delbecque|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1927||Georges Ronsse|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1929||Charles Meunier|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1930||Julien Vervaecke|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1931||Gaston Rebry|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1932||Romain Gijssels|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1933||Sylvère Maes|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1934||Gaston Rebry|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1935||Gaston Rebry|
|File:Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Italy||1937||Jules Rossi|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1938||Lucien Storme|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1939||Emile Masson jr|
|*||1940||World War II|
|*||1941||World War II|
|*||1942||World War II|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1943||Marcel Kint|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1944||Maurice Desimpelaere|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1946||Georges Claes|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1947||Georges Claes|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1948||Rik Van Steenbergen|
|France and Italy|1949|André Mahé and Serse Coppi|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1952||Rik Van Steenbergen|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1953||Germain Derijcke|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1954||Raymond Impanis|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1957||Fred De Bruyne|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1958||Leon Van Daele|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1959||Noel Fore|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1960||Pino Cerami|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1961||Rik Van Looy|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1962||Rik Van Looy|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1963||Emile Daems|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1965||Rik Van Looy|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1968||Eddy Merckx|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1969||Walter Godefroot|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1970||Eddy Merckx|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1971||Roger Rosiers|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1972||Roger De Vlaeminck|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1973||Eddy Merckx|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1974||Roger De Vlaeminck|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1975||Roger De Vlaeminck|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1976||Marc Demeyer|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1977||Roger De Vlaeminck|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1981||Bernard Hinault|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1987||Eric Vanderaerden|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1988||Dirk Demol|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1989||Jean-Marie Wampers|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1990||Eddy Planckaert|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||1996||Johan Museeuw|
|Italy||1999||Andrea Tafi||Mapei-Quick Step||Italy|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||2000||Johan Museeuw||Mapei||Italy|
|Netherlands||2001||Servais Knaven||Domo-Farm Frites||File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium|
|France||2002||Johan Museeuw||Lotto-Domo||File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium|
|France||2003||Peter Van Petegem||Lotto-Domo||File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||2005||Tom Boonen||Quick Step||File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium|
|Switzerland||2006||Fabian Cancellara||Team CSC||Denmark|
|Australia||2007||Stuart O'Grady||Team CSC||Denmark|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||2008||Tom Boonen||Quick Step||File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium|
|File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium||2009||Tom Boonen||Quick Step||File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium|