With the ‘Hell of the North’ taking place on Sunday, Bikmo brings you 5 facts for the 117th edition of Paris-Roubaix. A unique race which heads north from Paris, finishing 257km / 160 miles later, after crossing several farmer’s tracks, in the Roubaix outdoor velodrome.
1. The cobbled sectors are equal to riding from Liverpool – Manchester
With 54.5km / 34 miles of cobbles, over 29 sectors, it’s only when you reference this with riding from one place to another, that the enormity of what the riders have to do sinks in. With such difficult terrain to ride over, it’s as difficult keeping hold of your teeth as it is the bars.
2. It costs €15,000 per year to maintain the cobbles
As a result of both damage and theft, a team of volunteer students working with ‘Les Amis de Paris Roubaix’ maintain the cobbled sections at a cost of nearly £13,000 each year. With the introduction of televised racing, the organisation was set up to keep the cobbles in a condition that showed the regions were investing in their road systems.
3. The survival of the fittest… one out of two
In 2018, about every second rider did not finish the race. A total of 247 riders from 25 teams were named on the start list, but the results only included 101 of them finishing the race on time. 12 riders went over the time limit and the rest were DNF’s.
4. The cobble trophy was first awarded in 1977
Not your average winner’s memento, with only the toughest of riders lucky enough to be presented with their mounted granite cobblestone trophy. After 160 miles of brutal racing, their palms blistered and arms shaking as they attempt to lift it above their head … we’re sure they’d be happy with just a certificate.
5. There are only 14 showers at the Roubaix velodrome
Not just that, only the race finishers are considered to have earned the opportunity to have one. Shower and cubicle images of battered and exhausted riders, covered in mud and dust, are as iconic as the race images themselves, with each winner being awarded a cubicle, proudly displaying their achievement on a mounted plaque.
“A Paris–Roubaix without rain is not a true Paris–Roubaix. Throw in a little snow as well, it’s not serious.” – Sean Kelly