Cycling’s most famous monument, Paris-Roubaix is here! 257 kilometres and 55 on cobblestones across 29 sections. Can Tom Boonen retire a winner, or will we have another surprise winner? Join The Roar for live coverage from start to finish of the Hell of the North from 7:05pm (AEST).
Cast the mind back to 12 months ago and Boonen had it all to play for and was in perfect position to win until he was out-manoeuvred and out-sprinted by Matthew Hayman. While it still gives Australian fans goosebumps, the chance of Hayman defending the crown is minimal.
Boonen, in his final race will be out to finish his career with a fairy-tale. He has won the toughest race on the calendar four times and alongside Roger De Vlaeminck holds the record – a win here would make give him the most outright Paris-Roubaix victories.
Of course, it’s not that simple. Everything has to go right to win. From mechanicals, avoiding crashes, being well positioned, picking perfect tactics and then sprinting to the famous old showers in the Roubaix velodrome, a split second of bad luck or switching off could end the day.
Interestingly, there have been some changes to the route this year with an extra couple of kilometres, including five on the cobbles with an extra four sections added to the race.
Luckily for the riders, it’s due to be sunny. There has been next to no rain in the lead up and the cobbles shouldn’t have any moisture on them like last year, which brought Fabian Cancellara’s famous Roubaix career to its end.
The three fearsome sectors of the Trouee d’Arenberg (Forrest of Arenberg), Mons-en-Pavele and Carrefour d l’Arbre will once again be present, with those three likely to decide the race.
Arenberg, the first of the five-star sectors comes with nearly 100 kilometres to go, but rest for a moment and a split will be missed. It’s normally where the action starts and with the narrow and violent nature of the stones, there is often a split, crash or puncture.
From there, it’s 18 sectors inside 90 kilometres with Mons-en-Pavele coming just under 50 kilometres from the line before Larbre comes in a sequence of five within 15 kilometres. Pavele, with it’s hard right-hand turn could once again split the field in half, before Larbre is known for its brutal cobbles.
The final sector in Roubaix almost feels ceremonial as the peloton approach the velodrome, before a sprint on the track will once again decide the race.
For that reason, Peter Sagan and Tom Boonen are the favourites, although a smokey with track experience like Hayman could cause an upset once again.
Greg Van Avermaet, after missing out at the Tour of Flanders will be keen for redemption and is a good chance while Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sep Vanmarcke and Luke Durbridge also have to be considered.
Full list of cobbled sectors in 2017 Paris-Roubaix
|Sector||Name||Distance||Difficulty||Distance to go|
|29||Troisvilles à Inchy||2.2km||***||160km|
|28||Viesly à Quievy||1.8km||***||153.5km|
|27||Quiévy à Saint Python||3.7km||****||151km|
|26||Viesly à Biastre||3km||***||144.5km|
|25||Biastre à Solesmes||0.8km||**||141km|
|24||Vertain à Saint-Martin-sur-Ecaillon||2.3km||***||132.5km|
|23||Verchain-Maugré à Quérénaing||1.6km||***||122.5km|
|22||Quérénaing à Maing||2.5km||***||119.5km|
|21||Maing à Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon||1.6km||***||116.5km|
|20||Haveluy à Wallers||2.5km||****||103.5km|
|18||Wallers à Hélesmes||1.6km||***||89km|
|17||Hornaing à Wandignies||3.7km||****||82.5km|
|16||Warlaing à Brillion||2.4km||***||75km|
|15||Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières||2.4km||****||71.5km|
|14||Beuvry-la-Forêt à Orchies||1.4km||***||65km|
|12||Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée||2.7km||****||54km|
|10||Mérignies à Avelin||0.7km||**||42.5km|
|9||Pont-Thibault à Ennevelin||1.4km||***||39km|
|7||Cysoing à Bourghelles||1.3km||***||26.5km|
|6||Bourghelles à Wannehain||1.1km||***||24km|
|4||Carrefour de l’Arbre||2.1km||*****||17km|
|2||Willems à Hem||1.4km||***||8km|
It’s going to be an epic and picking a winner is anyone’s guess, but Quickstep looked exceptionally strong last week at Flanders. As hard as it is to tip against Sagan, Tom Boonen is going to complete the fairy-tale.
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