The Hell of the North, Queen of the Classics, L’Enfer du Nord, whatever name you call it Paris-Roubaix for many is the single biggest race of the year. Legends of the sport Fausto Coppi, Rik van Looy, Francesco Moser, Eddy Merckx, Sean Kelly, Bernard Hinault, Johan Museeuw and Fabain Cancellara have all tamed and won on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

Here’s a preview of the 2016 Paris-Roubaix.

2016 Paris-Roubaix Route

Paris-Roubaix is all about the cobbles, there are no climbs or tricky descents, no stop start sharp turns or flat out bunch sprint finish …. just brutal sections of cobblestones that wear down the rider meaning the strongest rider usually always wins.

Paris-Roubaix starts in Compiègne and finishes after 257.5km in the Roubaix velodrome, along the way there are 27 sectors of cobbles totaling 52.8km with the first commencing after 98.5km.

2016 Paris-Roubaix course map
2016 Paris-Roubaix course map

The course profile is pretty ordinary as it’s basically flat, here it is anyway.

2016 Paris-Roubaix course profile
2016 Paris-Roubaix course profile

And the 27 cobbled sections leading to Roubaix which is just south of the border with Belgium. If it rains as it is forecast to do on Saturday and Sunday then it will get really interesting, the cobbled sectors will turn to mud.

Cobbled Sectors

Cobled SectorLength
2798.5kmTroisvilles to Inchy2.2km
26105kmViesly to Quiévy1.8km
25107.5kmQuiévy in Saint-Python3.7km
23120.5kmVertain in Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon2.3km
22127kmCapelle to Ruesnes1.7km
21137.5kmQuérénaing in Maing2.5km
20141kmMaing in Monchaux-sur-Écaillon1.6km
19154kmHaveluy to Wallers2.5km
17168kmWallers to Hélesmes1.6km
16175kmHornaing to Wandignies3.7km
15182.5kmWarlaing in Brillon2.4km
14186kmTilloy in Sars-et-Rosières2.4km
13192.5kmBeuvry-la-Forêt in Orchies1.4km
11203.5kmAuchy-lez-Orchies to Bersée2.7km
9215kmMérignies in Avelin0.7km
8218kmPont-Thibaut Ennevelin1.4km
7224.5kmTempleuve (Moulin de Vertain)0.5km
6231kmCysoing in Bourghelles1.3km
6233.5kmBourghelles to Wannehain1.1km
4240.5kmCarrefour de l’Arbre2.1km
2249.5kmWillems Hem1.4km
Cobbled sector distance52.8 km

2016 Paris-Roubaix Contenders

John Degenkolb won Paris-Roubiax but won’t start this year because of his accident earlier this year, that leave similar group of favourites to last week with the exception of Greg Van Avermaet who broke his collarbone.
Peter Sagan after winning the Tour of Flanders last weekend and Gent-Wevelgem the week before Peter Sagan is joint favourite going into Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Sagan was the strongest rider last weekend and has a chance of doing the Tour of flanders / Paris-Roubaix double that was last done in 2013 by Fabian Cancellara.
Fabian Cancellara is joint favourite with Peter Sagan starting this race and has won at Paris-Roubaix three times before, a win in his final season would see him equaling Tom Boonen and Roger De Vlaeminck’s record of four wins. Cancellara was strong enough to win last weekend but erred in not chasing down Sagan and Kwiatkowski when they attacked, he won’t make the same mistake again.
Niki Terpstra Niki Terpstra won Paris-Roubaix in 2014 and was one of the strongest riders in the closing stages of the Tour of Flanders.
Sep Vanmarcke finished second in the 2013 Paris-Roubaix and was third last weekend.
Alexander Kristoff won the Tour of Flanders last year and is in great form having won the opening stage of the Three Days of De Panne yesterday as well as wins earlier this year at the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, and Kristoff also finished second in last months Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne. Kristoff won the bunch sprint last weekend and was strong even after being ill the week before. One thing against Kristoff winning is that he has never finished on the podium at Paris-Roubaix.

As well as …

Tom Boonen has won Tour of Flanders three times and Paris-Roubaix four times so that alone puts him in the mix for the win. Boonen would have improved his form at the Tour of Flanders but won’t be as strong as during his four wins.
Lars Boom is an outsider to win but he’s worth mentioning in the top ten favourites. Boom’s best finishes at Paris-Roubaix are 4th last year and 6th in 2012.
Edvald Boasson-Hagen has had stage wins at Tour of Oman and Tour of Qatar this year and starts as Team Dimension Data lead rider.
Zdenek Stybar finished second last year so he’s in with a chance. Finished 8th at Tour of Flanders in the chasing bunch.
Luke Rowe had a strong fifth place at the Tour of Flanders and will start as one of Team Sky’s protected riders.

Also watch out for Andre Geipel, Ian Stannard and Tony Martin.

The race starts at 10:15am in Compiègne which is 6:15pm AEST Sunday, television coverage is on Eurosport and SBS.

Follow the 2016 Paris-Roubaix on twitter using #ParisRoubiax

Additional Links
Paris-Roubaix: Niki Terpstra’s Monumental Ride – Video of Niki Terpstra’s 2014 win.
A Sunday in Hell – Jørgen Leth – Iconic Danish documentary A Sunday in Hell. The documentary is a cronology of the Paris-Roubaix held on April 11, 1976 from the perspective of the riders, event staff and spectators.


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