Preview: Paris-Roubaix

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The 3rd monument of the year, and the Queen of the cobble classics, Paris-Roubaix is all set to take place this Sunday, 8th April.

This year Paris-Roubaix, or “Hell of the North” as it is aptly named, will take the World Tour peloton over a 257km route, for its 116th edition. As always, it will be the 29 cobble sectors during the race that will define the main story of the day. The 29 sectors, all rated on a 5-star scale in terms of difficulty, will cover a total distance of 54.5km. While the race can be lost on any one of the 29 cobbled sectors, there are a few where the eventual winner will hope to make his mark

As numbered in reverse order by the race organisation, the first key sector of the day will be sector 29 but it will only be reached after 93km of racing. A fast start is expected as all teams will look to have representation in the early break. Although, due to this common interest it is not uncommon to see the race all together sprinting into this first cobbled sector of the race.

There are then 3 key sectors that all teams will be looking at closely. Sector 19, takes riders through the mythical and most famous sector, Forest of Arenberg. Coming with 94km to go and at 2.4km in length, expect a big selection to be made in the Forest. Mons-en-Pevelle is sector 11 and one of the most difficult of the race. Coming with 48km to go and at 3km in length, the strongest riders will look to lay down a marker here. With 17km to go, the final 5-star sector will be reached, Carrefour del Arbre. It is here where many editions of Paris-Roubaix where ultimately won, or lost.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will start on Sunday with a motivated team, ready for the epic battle ahead of them. Edvald Boasson Hagen, who placed 5th at the 2016 Paris-Roubaix, will be our favoured rider on the day. Despite a shoulder injury, Julien Vermote will also line up for a day in hell alongside our South African’s, Ryan Gibbons, Nic Dougall, Jaco Venter, Jay Thomson and Johann van Zyl.

Rolf Aldag – Sport Director

I’m not a weather man so I can’t predict what it will be like on race day but as far as our recon was concerned on Thursday, I’ve never seen conditions like that before. We can only hope for nice fast conditions on race day but we will deal with whatever is presented to us. Hell of the North is always a battle no matter what and it will be a big fight. History can be made at Roubaix, at Lombardy or Liege-Bastogne-Liege you are not going to win if you are not the strongest but here, out of different tactical scenarios, good luck or even bad luck to others, you always have a fair chance and I think that motivates guys to come back year after year to give Roubaix a shot. We are little in that situation, the underdogs on Sunday.

Lineup
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Julien Vermote
Ryan Gibbons
Nic Dougall
Jaco Venter
Jay Thomson
Johann van Zyl

Cover Image Explained

The Paris Roubaix is the hardest road race in the world. It doesn’t get any easier when finished.

The lionized Roubaix showers haven’t changed in almost a hundred years. In a final punctuation after the jaw chattering cobbles the water supply remains cold. 
A sense of reverence and respect is evident; stalls are adorned with nameplates of prior vainqueurs (winners) of the race. Merckx, Cancellara, Boonen, and Hinault are all immortalised.

Just finishing the “Queen of the Classics” is a dream for many pro-cyclists; and when you’ve spent a Sunday in Hell, the cold showers are a true rite of passage.