In France, there are two public holidays. Quatorze juillet and the Sunday of Paris Roubaix. Paris Roubaix is perhaps the most famous cycling classic that riders face in spring. The one-day cycling race in northern France, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, is traditionally held the Sunday after the Tour of Flanders. Like Milan San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy, Paris Roubaix is considered one of the five cycling monuments; the most prestigious cycling races around. Cycling-Classics.com is presenting you the preview Paris Roubaix 2023!
Preview Paris Roubaix 2023
To get fully in the mood for Paris-Roubaix, we first come up with some viewing tips. The cycling documentary “The cobbles of Paris-Roubaix” from Holland Sport by Wilfried de Jong is highly recommended to understand the heroism of this monument of cycling. All-time classic, by the way, is and remains “A Sunday in Hell” about Paris-Roubaix 1976. Go watch it! For now, read on and enjoy the preview Paris Roubaix 2023 with all about the heroics of the race and, of course, the favourites Paris Roubaix 2023! Want to navigate to the preview of our friends of Voorjaarsklassiekers.be? Please navigate here to the voorbeschouwing Parijs Roubaix 2023!
History of Paris Roubaix
Paris Roubaix is perhaps the most imaginative spring classic there is. In any case, it is a race with a rich history. Very rich. The history of Paris Roubaix goes back to 1896. When two textile products knocked on the door of French sports newspaper Le Vélo. Whether they did not want to participate in the organisation of a cycling race, all to promote the brand-new vélodrome of Roubaix. A legendary race was born. Paris Roubaix was born.
Paris Roubaix. Legends were born there, tragedies took place there. Joy and misery are close together. Especially in The Hell. Whether it is raining and riders look like miners after a day of toil. Or when it is dry and clouds of dust loom. “Paris-Roubaix is a terrible race to ride, but the most beautiful to win,” said Sean Kelly, who won here in 1984 and 1986. Or what about the legendary victory of Hennie Kuiper, who first crashed his bike, but then was still able to ride to victory.
Or the 2002 rain edition, where Johan Museeuw rode away from everyone on the big plate in the mud in characteristic fashion. Or Francesco Moser’s victory in his champion’s jersey, in 1978. The four editions won by Monsieur Paris Roubaix, Roger de Vlaeminck. Or the coupe of Mapei. The three of them making the podium. Or the 2003 double of Peter van Petegem, who had the best day of his career there.
Route Paris Roubaix 2023
Say Paris Roubaix, you say cobblestones. The Forest of Wallers. Carrefour de l’Arbre. Mons-en-Pévèle. Dusting in dry weather, slipping in the rain. To prepare the Paris Roubaix 2023 cobblestones, even goats had to be used. Nice piece of eco-grazing as they call it. Paris Roubaix 2023 will also revolve around the cobbles and compared to last year, there are few changes to the course.
Also in the Paris Roubaix 2023 course, Het Bos (Trouée d’Arenberg) and Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre will again be pivotal strips. These are the strips that look the worst. Right, the five-star strips. In the Forest the fuse can be lit, in Mons-en-Pévèle it is always fireworks and on the Carrefour de l’Arbre we are only 17 kilometres from the finish. Will the eventual winner be alone at the front here?
“As if they have thrown down the cobbles from a helicopter. That’s how crooked they are there” – Tom Boonen on the Carrefour de L’Arbe, his most feared stretch of road.
Contenders Paris Roubaix 2023
“Wout van Aert is already 28, time is running out”. “Wout needs to win the Ronde at least once, Roubaix at least once and the World Championships on the road at least once. Otherwise, his career is not successful”. “It’s high time Wout won more monuments. Sanremo alone is not enough for someone of his calibre”.
Beware, these are not our words. We quoted José de Cauwer, Tom Boonen and Johan Museeuw here. The pressure on Wout van Aert is unprecedentedly high. Pressure which, by the way, he also imposed on himself, specifically by that statement “I just don’t have to do anything”. Pressure that the team also puts on him. Because brilliant, that #SamenWinnen and victories in the Omloop, Kuurne, E3, Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen. Winning in the cobbled monuments is Jumbo’s goal. Preferably with Wout van Aert as the winner. Come on Wout. Let’s rock and roll!
If it won’t be Wout on Sunday, chances are it will be his eternal rival. Mathieu van der Poel. Signed after the race that he rode perhaps his strongest Tour of Flanders ever. Had to acknowledge his superiority to that phenomenal Slovenian. Merckxian called his number. Good news for Matje. Pogi will not be at Roubaix this year (yet). Poeleke may not have managed to crack the Paris Roubaix code yet, but he was very close during his debut in 2021. We are already looking forward to a true new duel between Van Aert and Van der Poel. May the best one win!
If anyone wants to put a stop to that, it is Mads Pedersen. The ironclad Dane of Trek-Segadredo is already riding a formidable spring, including a top-10 at Milan Sanremo and a podium finish at the Ronde last Sunday. Pedersen can also count on his sprint on the track on Sunday. Can he beat Wout or Mathieu?
Now that the five, four and three stars have been handed out, we come to the outsiders. It was weighing and weighing, but it is Filippo Ganna and Yves Lampaert who get the final stars. The two stars go to the Italian. The INEOS Grenadier klepper rode superbly here last year, but had bad luck on bad luck.
Paris-Roubaix is on the one hand the race of making sure you get to the front early, staying there and squeaking into the final. But on the other hand, it is also a race where after a puncture or other bad luck at a bad time you literally see yourself falling back. Whereas last year Ganna was held up by a crash after a flat tyre, it was Belgian Lampaert who fell away from the race himself. A calf from a spectator saw his dream shattered. Can the two hard riders go for revenge this year?
Finally, some dark horses. Christophe Laporte and Dylan van Baarle would always be the team leader with any other team, but we only see them as a super man to guide Van Aert to his first Roubaix. Or can the Frenchman in blood form surprise in De Hel too after Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen? And the defending champion? What can Van Baarle do on Sunday? To what extent he has recovered from his fall is the mystery. To what extent can these kleppers strike, will be the key question.
Matej Mohoric and Stefan Küng may also still be listed as dark horses. The lively Slovenian who last year amazed friend and foe with his dropper post at Milan Sanremo has set his sights on excelling on the cobbles of Roubaix this year. Will the Bahrain hard rider strike?
Strike. That’s what Florian Vermeersch did in his first Roubaix. In the wet autumn edition, however, he just couldn’t win. In the end, Sonny Colbrelli walked off with the win, but there was only praise for the then 22-year-old history student at the University of Leuven. For fans of Live Slow Ride Fast, the cycling podcast of, among others, Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker, one thing is certain: you better write Vermeersch down in your prognostications!