Paris-Roubaix: The Course and the Riders

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04/9/2006| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
The famous Arenberg Trench - Renovated and rendered easier to pass. Will it still be able to split the field? Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com to find out! Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
The famous Arenberg Trench - Renovated and rendered easier to pass. Will it still be able to split the field? Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com to find out! Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Paris-Roubaix: The Course and the Riders

The first 100 km of Paris-Roubaix are like the first 200 pages of a Dostoyevsky novel.

The first <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>100 km of Paris-Roubaix are like the first 200 pages of a Dostoyevsky novel. Not much happens. The 2006 edition, which will be 259 km long, will be no exception. Section 27, the first section of the pave that crowns the Queen of the Classics, will appear at 98 km . The sector is not difficult?it is only a Category 3 on the five-point scale that the race organizers use to categorize degree of difficulty?but the riders will go over the sectors that follow in rapid succession. The first crucial sector will be the Arenberg Trench at 163 km . The trench has the highest degree of difficulty?Category 5. Historically, the Arenberg has split the field. It has broken bicycles and riders? bones and hopes. Tomorrow, the trench will play its accustomed role. <?xml:namespace prefix = o /?>

 

 

After the Arenberg Trench, the next crucial sector will be Sector 10 at 210 km . It is located at Mons-en-Pevele. At three km, the sector is the race?s second longest. It is a Category 5, which means that some contenders might be eliminated here.

 

During the closing stages of the race, the riders will encounter the last Category 5, the Carrefour de l?Arbre. The sector is 17 km from the
Roubaix
velodrome, and it follows three consecutive Category 4 sectors. Pain and exhaustion will join the pave as the riders? companions. For some riders, the despair will be emotional as well as physical, as they see their chances of victory ride away from them.

 

After the Carrefour de l?Arbre, a Category 2 and two Category 1s will stand between the riders and the
Roubaix
velodrome. Who will cross the velodrome finish line first? It is likely to be Tom Boonen (Quick Step). The world champion and Paris-Roubaix defending champion has excellent legs, as witnessed by last Sunday?s successful defense of his Tour of Flanders championship. He has high morale and an excellent team behind him. Look for Boonen to take the top place on the podium.

 

A challenge could come from Boonen?s team. Quick Stepper Filippo Pozzato won Milan-San Remo and finished fourth at Gent-Wevelgem. The young Italian has good form, and he is developing into an excellent classics man. Look for him to be among the leaders at the Carrefour de l?Arbre.

 

 

Discovery Channel has George Hincapie, who has won Gent-Wevelgem, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and the Grand Prix Plouay and who has six top ten finishes in the Hell of the North. At the Tour of Flanders, however, the American squad also had Leif Hoste, who finished second to Hincapie?s third. In addition, Roger Hammond was third in 2004. Discovery Channel has many weapons, but the riders might work at cross purposes.

 

Davitamon has Peter Van Petegem, the 2003 Paris-Roubaix winner; Nico Mattan, who has won Gent-Wevelgem; and Leon Van Bon, the former Dutch champion. Do not rule them out.

 

T-Mobile has Steffen Wesemann, who won the 2004 Tour of Flanders and who has placed well in the Queen of the Classics. His team, however, might not be

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