2011 - Planning a Trip
Paris-Roubaix is one of those races whose reputation grows with age. It also grows in scope and, as mentioned elsewhere, this year has a sportive to go with the traditional pro-elite race, the U23 race, the Junior race, the MTB race, etc.
All the cycling media have plenty about the headliner race - so rather than repeat it I have been checking out the Junior race.
This year the race schedule starts at 11:00 from Saint Amand les Eaux and covers 118Km in total. This includes the last 16 sectors of pave in the pro race. The organisers estimate that it will pass along the route around 3 hours ahead the main event. So chance to see both if you plan your trip well.
This year 18 national teams are listed with the GB squad shown as - 81 DIBBEN JONATHAN / 82 DOULL OWAIN / 83 HOLMES MATTHEW / 84 LATHAM CHRISTOPHER / 85 LOWE SAMUEL / 86 PAPWORTH JOSHUA - not that I know enough to comment. But in the past the GB Juniors have done well - very well in fact. Andrew Fenn won 2008 and Dan McLay was second in 2010 while Geraint Thomas won back in 2004.
So this year I hope to make it to Saint Amand for the start of the Junior race instead of the long drive down to Compiegne. Click on the pic for more... and note that the route has changed this year; for example, straight after the Arenberg.
2009 - Double of Doubles
QuickStep’s Tom Boonen not only repeated his 2008 victory - but made it a quadruple for the team after Stijn Devolder’s repeat victory in Flanders last week. Despite being a fine, dry and relatively dust-free ride Roubaix still provided the drama that few other modern races possess. Race knowledge, luck and sheer hard work had put six in the lead - Boonen plus Filippo Pozzato, Thor Hushovd, Leif Hoste, Johan Van Summeren and Juan Antonio Flecha. Then Flecha crashed and took out the two from Silence-Lotto. Boonen was then with Hushovd and just ahead of Pozzato - but Hushovd slid off just a corner or two later leaving Boonen to power on to a 47sec victory as Pozzato lost a second or two per km over the final sectors.
Meanwhile in the Junior race Guillaume Van Keirsbulck added another double for Belgium by winning alone some 20sec ahead of a group of 5. However the British juniors still put up a fight with Alexander King finishing 11th just 38sec behind the winner.
However the crash of a motor bike into spectators may encourage the organisers to reduce significantly the number of motor bikes allowed - especially amongst the riders. Roubaix seems to get more each year - and this year it was quite clear that they were both badly positioned and taking too many risks.
But Roubaix is not the worst with some events become a motor bike free for all - as TV cameras, photographers, bottle carriers, time gap board carriers, spare wheel carriers and even product advertising bikes fight it out for the best spot.
Even the relatively important TV bikes still impede (or pace) the riders and take unnecessary risks. I know it’s good TV to hold the camera a few cms from the cobbles at 45kph just a few meters in front of the leaders - but what do the riders think?
Get out of the !*^”ing way - gets my vote.
I’m no fan “health & safety” above everything - but racing is dangerous enough without deliberately adding so many moving and out-of-control obstacles so close to the action.
Paris-Roubaix Team List
Landbouwkrediet - Colnago (LAN)
Silence - Lotto (SIL)
Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator (TSV)
Team Saxo Bank (SAX)
Caisse d’Epargne (GCE)
Euskaltel - Euskadi (EUS)
AG2R - La Mondiale (ALM)
BBox Bouygues Telecom (BTL)
Cofidis, Le Crédit en Ligne (COF)
Française des Jeux (FDJ)
Team Milram (MRM)
Lampre - N.G.C. (LAM)
Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (VAC)
Team Katusha (KAT)
Cervélo Test Team (CTT)
BMC Racing Team (BMC)
Garmin - Slipstream (GRM)
Team Columbia - High Road (THR)
Race organisers ASO have confirmed the 24 teams that will start the 107th edition on Easter Sunday at 11:00 in Compiegne.
No surprise that they don’t have a list of riders yet - but it is a bit unusual for no route map to be available. This may be because the work on relaying the Bersee sector is not expected to be completed until the end of March. This sector has not been used for the past two years but will return as a critical point in the 2009 race - being just 50km from the velodrome finish.
If you plan to make this trip this year Roubaix is having a carnival with a cycling theme on Saturday from 3pm. And don’t forget that on Sunday the Junior Paris-Roubaix will be hitting the route around 2hr30 before the big event - even though it could be a bit unrealistic to expect a repeat of last year’s British victory.
Sixty riders completed the race with a group of 7 contesting the sprint at Roubaix. The winner was Holland’s Coen Vermeltfoort (Rabobank) from Italian Giorgio Brambilla and Switzerland’s Laurent Beuret. The remaining riders contesting the finale included Clinton Avery (NZ) and Daniel Summerhill of the US National Team. A second group just 14 seconds behind included a familiar Roubaix name - Baptiste Planckaert - but I don’t know if Baptiste has a family connection to the earlier generations of racing Planckaerts. [Also in the cycling archives the Brambilla name appears in the records as winner of the 1906 Tour of Lombardy (Giuseppe) and through Pierre - King of the Mountains in the 1947 Tour de France]
Next - a much bigger (but not quite so fast) field is expected for the cyclo-sportive this coming weekend.
On Friday the online betting services had put Tom Boonen as favourite ahead of Cancellara, Flecha, Hoste, Hincapie, Ballan, Pozzato, Devolder, O’Grady, Hushovd and Nuyens. And for once it turned out almost exactly as predicted. Boonen, Cancellara and Ballan contested the sprint over 3 minutes ahead of the unexpected Martyn Maaskant (Slipstream). O’Grady, Hoste and Devolder took 5th to 7th places.
And in the Junior edition there was a surprise result with a win by GB’s Andy Fenn ahead of Peter Sagan (SVK) and Etienne Fedrigo (FRA). Erick Rowsell and Toby Meadows were both in the top 15 and ensured that GB took the team honours.
Pro Elite Update
No start list as yet - but it should be confirmed after Gent Wevelgem on Wednesday. The 25 teams that have been accepted for Paris Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne and Liège Bastogne Liège are listed here ...
According to the TV listings Eurosport is only planning 60 mins of race coverage on Sunday - starting at 14:30 GMT (with a repeat on Monday) - as compared to 2 hours for Gent Wevelgem.
24 teams are scheduled to ride in the Espoirs on 1-June with 9 teams from France, 7 from Belgium and 2 from Holland. The remaining nations represented being - Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland - and New Zealand! So no team interest for Australia, GB, Ireland or the US. Perhaps there will be a few riders from these nations in the club teams?
You can see a “flash” slideshow of pictures from last year’s Espoirs race loaded by the organisers here ...
Junior Race Update 2
The start list is now available and the 7 rider GB team is shown as - Darren TUDOR, Andy FENN, Luke ROWE, Mark CHRISTIAN, Erick ROWSELL, Chris WHORRALL and Andrew WILLIAMS. However I thought Darren was the team coach rather than a rider! If so there must be one rider’s name missing.
It would be nice if all the GB rider lists for upcoming events were on the British Cycling web site but no luck in finding anything there so far - not even the GB teams race schedules. [And the Halfords - Bikehut GB team don’t seem to have a web site at all. Even a few web pages at the BC site would help].
You can see a slideshow of pictures from last year’s Junior race loaded by the organisers here ...
Junior Race Update
The race organisers have listed 15 teams for this year’s race - two French national teams plus one each from; Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Great Britain, Holland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine and Luxembourg.
Starting from Saint Amand les Eaux at 11:25 the races covers 122km and the last 16 pave zones of the pro race before finishing in the Roubaix Velodrome.
The Mens Elite race is scheduled for 13-April this year - and is well away from its traditional Easter date (Easter Sunday is 23-March in 2008). It will start as normal at Compiègne at 10:50 and is expected to hit the Arenberg at around 15:00. The arrival at Roubaix Velodrome can be expected anywhere between 17:00 and 18:00 according to the conditions. To see all the preparation at the start you need to get there for 9:00 and then hit the autoroute north as soon as the convoy has cleared.
Details of the Espoirs (1-June) and Juniors (13-April before the pros) races to follow
This year the rides are planned for 08-June with options to cover 120, 190 or the full 260 kms. Organised trip available details here ...
History of the Race
For a brief history see the Wikipedia entry... and for more detailed results see the Memoire du Cyclisme site
The route of the race has become of national importance and the cobbled section subject to preservation controls. Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix cover both the history of the race and all the supporting activities. They also have a web page devoted to the work of artist Christian Teel here..
Because of its long history (it started 1896) and drama there are plenty of books that are either partly or totally devoted to the race. The best, in my opinion, is the Pascal Sergent production for the centenary in 1996. The English version of which was published by Bromley Books (ISBN 0-9531729-0-2). But I have yet to read “A Journey Through Hell” [see right]
US success was nearest with the second place by George Hincapie in 2005 but otherwise nothing to show
British success at the pro-elite level has been limited to 2 x 3rd places (Barry Hoban in 1972 and Roger Hammond in 2004) but the win by Geraint Thomas ahead of Ian Stannard in the 2004 Junior version does give hope for the future. Paul Sherwin’s 3rd place back in 1977 was the only British podium place in the amateur / espoirs version. Of course the hero never on the podium was Tom Simpson. In 1960 his lone break was the highlight of the first televised edition of Paris-Roubaix. To be caught at Hem just a few kilometres from the finish was tragic; but a big boost to his career.
Ireland has the advantage of that master of hard riding, Sean Kelly, winning in 1984 and 1986 either side of third place in 1985.
Australian success has come just once - but that was a win and just last year! Stuart O’Grady gave a winning performance that truely gave credit to importance of the race; the “Queen of Classics”. See it on YouTube ..
Who will win in 2008? That will be hard to predict even after the field rolls out from Compiègne. But a Belgian is rarely off the podium [147 placings in 112 years] so that may be a help if you want to make a bet.
Certainly it will be the weather that plays an important role. The incredible speed of the 1964 race (45.1kph) was down to the tail wind. You only have to realise that Merckx’s win in 1968 took a full 1hr 17min longer to reach Roubaix.
The final stages of the modern course twists around the pave sections so that the effects of a strong tail wind are reduced but the winning time can still vary between 6 hours and 7 hours 30 mins. Watching the race in these final sectors can be a confusing affair. The crowds tend to ignore the tarmac sections and head for the cobbles. This means you can find yourself on a quiet tarmac road through a village that suddenly switches from deserted silence to briefly hosting a group of chasers with their noisy team cars just behind.
If you go with an organised tour then you will be able to see the race in several places along the route - plus get to the velodrome in time for the finish. If not then you have to take your chances along with the 1,000’s of others who regularly bend the driving rules to get ahead of the race! Official web site ...