Paris Roubaix to be wet?

The second best one day bike race (after the Ronde) takes place this weekend for the first time since 2019.

The 2020 Paris Roubaix, or Hell of the North, was cancelled in the April of that year as the Covid pandemic raged. It was provisionally re-scheduled for the end of that year but a surge in cases around the races finish area in Lille saw no race and much sadness for fans.

April 2021 saw more challenges in that area of Northern France and whilst the Flemish classics just over the border in Belgium took place, the Roubaix velodrome was again left silent.

But we do now have an event with a firm date for this Sunday, 3rd October 2021 and what’s more both the men’s and inaugural female events will both be hitting the cobbles.

This feels like a massive moment for cycling and a real sign that things are coming back to some level of normality and we will have a full set of one day monuments to look back on (unless something terrible happens in Italy to affect Il Lombardia).

My favourite memory of Roubaix was the 1994 edition where Andrei Tchmil survived the rain, mud and snowy blizzards the best. He was able to make the velodrome finish and take home the coveted cobble as his prize.

I remember a classic shot from the tv motorbike as Tchmil got away and the back drop was some old mining pulleys and towers with the cloud behind them the likes of which I’d never seen before.

The snow followed soon after and it was clear this would be a race we would talk about for years. I know I still am!

1994 Paris Roubaix

Since 1994 we have only seen one truly wet event, in 2002.

The forecast for this Sunday isn’t great with showers and 24kph winds anticipated on the exposed roads north of Paris.

If that doesn’t whet your appetite for this great event then nothing will.

Enjoy the race.

The hell up North in France ends hopes of spring Roubaix

The rising tide of Covid wave #3 across mainland Europe looks to have ensured that Paris-Roubaix will not happen in its traditional April slot this year.

The race didn’t happen at all in 2020.

This will be a real blow as it was going to be a double header of female and male racing to the famous velodrome.

However cases of a Paris variant near the start and high infection rates in Lille which is close to the finish look to be key in putting paid to that.

Nothing has been officially confirmed yet but there is a chance of an October date.

Decathlon supporting the Friends of Paris Roubaix

There can’t be too many people who love cycling who don’t love Decathlon.

When we were able to travel in Europe I could never pass one without heading in for some sweatbands, a body board or a fleece.

I rode time trials in 2004 and 2005 on one of their road bikes which showed that they might be a chain store but their kit is good.

Whilst browsing in my lunch break today I became drawn to their “Pave Collection” t-shirt.

Decathlon Pave Collection t-shirt £17.99

Anything with any sort of Flemish lion on it finds its way into my basket without any questions asked. This was no different and the deal was sealed even more emphatically with the news that a portion of the sales value of the t-shirt will be donated to the “Friends of Paris-Roubaix“. This will go towards the fantastic work they do to preserve the sectors of cobbles.

With no race in 2020, this money will be even more eagerly anticipated. So get shopping!

Click here.

When mine arrives, I will review it and let you know what I think.

Did TV spoil Paris – Roubaix?

Its rhetorical as a question of course. But with the Eurosport “family” taking the whole of PR from gun to flag this year again, was the pattern of the race altered?

Last year was the first time that the whole event was beamed on a single platform across Europe and the first hour was even more chaotic than usual with riders trying to get into that break for more tv coverage. 

This year the peloton didn’t get the chance to let a break go and have a rest before the cobbles as every single attack was neutralised. 

As a result the whole race was completely different and I have to say it didn’t feel that great to me. 

With Eurosport announcing that they will be doing Tour de France stages in their entirety this summer, we shall see if this pattern of trying to hog the screens for longer or preventing other sponsors getting exposure catches on…

Time will tell. 

The best “Hell of the North” ever?

So the question on everyone’s lips this week is as to whether that was the greatest Paris Roubaix ever? 

What is for sure is that the feelings that you need foul weather to get a high quality, exciting race have been put to bed. 

It looked madness when a number of the big favourites were off the front before the Arenberg Forest with over 90km to go. But they made the move stick ensuring that Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan were isolated and dropped. 

Sep Vanmarcke and Ian Stannard produced a flourish of late attacks which didn’t stick before Matt Hayman and Tom Boonen got away in the streets of Roubaix. 

Hayman spoilt the local fans day by beating Boonen in the sprint but it was an epic from minute one. 

Here’s to the next one, although we are still very excited by the upcoming Ardennes week.