Day-1 Paris-Roubaix News
The Troisvilles cobbles will finally feature as expected on the course of the 114th edition of Paris-Roubaix, in which world champion Peter Sagan and three-times winner Fabian Cancellara will battle it out for victory.
27 COBBLED SECTORS AS PLANNED
Some uncertainty lay about the possibility for the race to avoid the cobbled sector in Troisvilles, the first serious test for the Paris-Roubaix peloton at kilometer 98.5. Partly covered with mud and impossible to ride during Monday’s checks, the sector was cleaned up in order for the race to take place in acceptable safety conditions. “It’s a portion of 300 to 400 metres on which we used equipment to remove the mud. We then washed it intensely and swept it dry. We finally decided to keep the sector on the course,” said race director Thierry Gouvenou.
SAGAN AND CANCELLARA READY FOR THE SHOWDOWN
After their exciting fight in the Tour of Flanders a week ago, everybody singles out Ronde winner Peter Sagan and three-times Paris-Roubaix champion Fabian Cancellara as the men to beat tomorrow in the Hell of the North. Still both are quick to dismiss the idea that the race will only be a duel between them on the 27 cobbled sectors of the Queen of Classics. “It’s not only me and Peter, there are many other favourites,” said the Swiss, aiming at a record-equaling fourth victory in the Roubaix velodrome.
“It will depend on many things, the rain, the weather, the condition on the day. It’s a race like every year. You have the same riders, the same team tactics with teams like Etixx who are going to dictate the race. But in the end, it’s Roubaix and I know what I have to do,” he said on the eve of his final participation. Still “Spartacus” is not treating his farewell Paris-Roubaix as a different race.
“Life goes on another way now. This afternoon I spoke to one of our riders Marco Coledan, it’s his first Paris-Roubaix. I told him let’s go to the sponsors, the fans, let’s do the loop. This has changed too. Everything has changed. There is a new chapter coming and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
World champion Sagan, impressive in his first monument win last week in Flanders, also insists it is a far more open race than it might look: “It’s always the same riders going for the win. I don’t know what to expect from Fabian Cancellara. I only know I feel very good after the checks we did this week. Compared to previous years, I have more victories, I changed jerseys, but I’m the same rider.” The Slovak will attempt to become the first rider since Rik Van Looy in 1962 to achieve the Roubaix-Flanders double with the world champion jersey on his back: “I won Flanders, but Roubaix is a different race. To win tomorrow, you need luck, good legs. It’s a unique race but a race is a race.”
A FIRST TIME WINNER FOR THE 120TH ANNIVERSARY?
While this is its 114th edition, Paris-Roubaix is celebrating its 120th anniversary since the first title was awarded to Josef Fischer in 1896. Since then, the years finishing in “6” almost always saw new winners on the Roubaix velodrome to the exception of 1986, when Sean Kelly won the Queen of Classics for the second time. Among the first time winners in “6” years were Louison Bobet (1956), Felice Gimondi (1966) and real specialists like Johan Museeuw (1996) or Fabian Cancellara (2006).
PARIS-ROUBAIX CHALLENGE: A RECORD 5,300 STARTERS
Since 2011, the cobbled sectors of Paris-Roubaix are exceptionally open once a year on the eve of the race for the amateur riders eager to discover the thrills and vibes of the Arenberg trench, Carrefour de l’Arbre or Mons-en-Pevele. Among the record 5,300 riders who embarked on the event, a third were Britons, the leading nationally in the bunch. The Spaniards, while far fewer, had sent some big names to the Challenge, including 1988 Tour de France winner Pedro Delgado, discovering the cobbles at 55, and Juan Antonio Flecha, who finished three times on the Roubaix podium.