Why Paris-Roubaix Is the Hardest One-Day Bike Race within the World


Professional highway cyclists compete in numerous occasions, from multiday or multiweek stage races to single-day epics to stack up Union Cycliste Worldwide (UCI) group factors. The UCI is the worldwide governing physique of biking.

Among the hardest and most well-known biking races come within the type of the grand European excursions, together with the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, and the legendary Tour de France. These races happen over the course of a couple of month, and drive racers to implement long-game ways in hopes of seeing their high riders in place for stage wins or total victories within the basic classification, or factors accumulation by means of sprints or climbing.

Whereas these races are famend for his or her size and issue, one other subset of main races referred to as the 5 Monuments of biking, or just, “The Classics,” garner the identical stage of status with a completely completely different type of tribulation.

Paris–Roubaix is the toughest cycling monument
Paris-Roubaix’s cobblestone sections make it the hardest biking Monument; (photograph/Jasper Jacobs by way of Getty Pictures)

The Monuments every are held on a single day. They’re extraordinarily lengthy and canopy dizzyingly troublesome terrain. As a result of riders don’t have extra levels within the previous or following days, they have an inclination to offer every thing they’ve within the hunt for a win, reasonably than sitting on a wheel to preserve power. This results in explosive driving that’s equal elements excessive consequence and excessive reward.

The Monuments embody Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour of Lombardy, and Paris-Roubaix.

Whereas all of those races have carved out an area as probably the most troublesome single-day races on this planet, the ultimate member of this unique checklist, Paris-Roubaix, is a reduce above the remaining concerning technical issue and the required grit to even attain the end line. Right here’s why.

Paris-Roubaix: Hell on 2 Wheels

Sonny Cobrelli and Mathieu van der Peol in the 2021 Paris–Roubaix
Italian Sonny Colbrelli and Dutch Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix duking it out within the 2021 males’s version of the Paris-Roubaix; (photograph/David Stockman/Getty Pictures)

One want look no additional than the nickname of Paris-Roubaix to know simply how exhausting the race is, even for the perfect riders on this planet. Extensively known as “the Hell of the North,” Paris-Roubaix runs from the outskirts of Paris to town of Roubaix in Northern France over a grueling course of round 160 miles.

This yr’s males’s race is that this weekend. The boys race on Sunday, April 9, from Compiègne, about an hour’s drive northwest of Paris, earlier than wrapping up on the Roubaix Velodrome.

The ladies do battle in Paris-Roubaix Femmes on April 8 and can start their race to the velodrome in Denain. The femmes course has been lengthened by about 13 miles in comparison with 2022, setting the end line simply previous the 90-mile mark.

Map for the 2023 Paris–Roubaix
Map of the 2023 Paris-Roubaix; (photograph/Paris-Roubaix)

It’s not the longest of the Monuments, nor does it embody probably the most arduous climbs or dangerous descents. Nonetheless, what Paris-Roubaix lacks in conventional highway racing obstacles like elevation, it greater than makes up for in its excruciating cobblestones.

These on the lookout for a easy driving floor ought to keep away from Paris-Roubaix in any respect prices. The course is suffering from cobblestone sections rated on a scale of 1 to five stars, with 5 being the toughest. These at all times result in punctures, crashes, accidents, and catastrophic mechanical points, regularly ending the race for high contenders.

By the top of the race, athletes are coated in dust or mud and are more likely to have lungs stuffed with particles as nicely.

Cobbles within the ‘Hell of the North’

typical cobblestone section in the Paris–Roubaix
The cobblestone sector of Arenberg Forest in Paris-Roubaix; (photograph/Rini Kools by way of Shutterstock)

The cobblestone sections of Paris-Roubaix are legendary. Many of those sections are historical and had been initially meant just for journey by horseback or chariot, and lots of wouldn’t even think about them precise roads.

In the event you think about a comparatively easy floor with stones related by well-maintained concrete, suppose once more. These stones are sharp, uneven, and, if even a slight quantity of rain comes down, extremely slick. Riders often run wider tires for Paris-Roubaix in comparison with different races. However even with extraordinarily vast 30mm rubber, the cobbles are infamous for his or her chew.

Cobble sectors for the Hell of the North
Cobblestone sections of Paris-Roubaix 2022; (photograph/Paris-Roubaix)

Punctures are an enormous drawback at Paris-Roubaix, however the terrain is so tough that much more vital mechanical points together with damaged chainrings and destroyed wheels typically hit the peloton. These mechanical points have a serious impression on the race, even for the frontrunners. A bit of fine or dangerous luck could make the distinction between a win or dropping out.

The 2023 males’s race runs over 29 cobblestone sections throughout practically 34 miles. With 5 sectors reaching the 5-star ranking and 6 extra thought-about 4-star sectors, the race packs a heap of adverse terrain from starting to finish.

The Paris-Roubaix Femmes contains 17 cobblestone sections totaling about 18 miles. These riders will face off in opposition to two 5-star cobble sectors and 4 4-star sections.

Groups Competing in Paris-Roubaix 2023

Cyclists turn onto a cobblestone section of Paris-Roubaix.
Cyclists flip onto a cobblestone part of Paris-Roubaix; (photograph/Paris-Roubaix)

Profitable Paris-Roubaix is an enormous accomplishment. Earlier winners embody Peter Sagan (2018), Philippe Gilbert (2019), Sonny Colbrelli (2021), and Dylan Van Baarle (2022).

Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel are among the many favorites to win this yr’s race. However they’ll have loads of competitors from the likes of World Championship winner Mads Pederson and different riders from the 25 groups competing within the race this yr.

Listed below are the groups competing in 2023:

  • AG2R Citroën Group (FRA) 
  • Alpecin Deceuninck (BEL) 
  • Astana QazaQstan Group (KAZ) 
  • Bora-Hansgrohe (GER) 
  • EF Training-Easypost (USA) 
  • Groupama-FDJ (FRA) 
  • Ineos Grenadiers (GBR) 
  • Intermarché-Circus-Wanty (BEL) 
  • Jumbo-Visma (NED) 
  • Movistar Group (ESP) 
  • Soudal Fast-Step (BEl) 
  • Group Arkea-Samsic (FRA) 
  • Group Bahrain Victorious (BRN) 
  • Group Cofidis (FRA) 
  • Group DSM (NED) 
  • Group Jayco AlUla (AUS) 
  • Trek-Segafredo (USA) 
  • UAE Group Emirates (UAE)   
  • TotalEnergies (FRA) 
  • Lotto Dstny (BEL) 
  • Israel Premier Tech (ISR)  
  • Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB (BEL) 
  • Q36.5 Professional Biking Group (SUI) 
  • Group Flanders-Baloise (BEL) 
  • Uno-X Professional Biking Group (NOR)

The way to Watch Paris-Roubaix

U.S. viewers can watch the 2023 Paris-Roubaix by way of Flobikes. Go forward and inhale sharply, since you’ll fork over $150 a yr for it, and it’s a one-pay setup. The platform does make an enormous deal of the truth that’s “lower than $3 per week,” so possibly that’s how it is advisable to justify it to your self, your accountant, your vital different, and so forth.