The Queen of the classics. hell of the north. Or just plain Paris-Roubaix. The race in north-eastern France knows many names and almost as many stories. Who will add their own to these this year remains to be seen on Sunday.
Only one thing is certain so far. And it's the same every year. The pavement will mercilessly push the riders to their limits, until at the end the strongest of them all gets to raise their arms to the sky in the old Roubaix velodrome.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing)
Can the Swiss do the double from the Tour of Flanders and Roubaix like last year? Sure, one might think. In any case, its shape is correct. And even if he has to do without one of his strongest assistants in Stijn Devolder - the Belgian fell several times last weekend and is injured - everything should be important to him to secure a fourth cobblestone in order to join the record winners Roger to catch up with de Vlaeminck and Tom Boonen.
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
The Belgian is one of the record winners in Roubaix. He has experienced a total of four stones in his career. Another win would make him the sole record holder. He has already proven several times this season that he has what it takes. In the past few weeks, his form has steadily increased. In addition, Boonen should have the strongest team.
Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
The Czech is part of Boonen's support team. What he is capable of doing on the pavement, however, he proved a year ago. For a long time he was able to assert himself in Cancellara's company and was only slowed down late by a collision with a spectator through no fault of his own. As the reigning cyclocross world champion, he should have at least the slightest problem with the surface and, last but not least, be more than just a joker.
Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin)
The Belgian is fit for the moment. A week ago, the final of the Tour of Flanders was somewhat reminiscent of Roubaix in 2013. At that time he had to admit defeat to the Swiss Cancellara in the velodrome. This year he should want more.
Marcus Burghardt (BMC)
At the Tour of Flanders, the Zschopauer showed that he is one of the strongest drivers in his team. Despite a late defect, he managed a top 15 result, with which he was even the best German in the end. Many may favor John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) from Gera as the successor to the only German winner so far, Joseph Fischer. However, experience on the pavé speaks for Burghardt. Another plus point for him is that the rest of the favorites are more likely to be looking at designated team captain Greg van Avermaet.
As well as the drivers mentioned, there are of course a number of others to keep an eye on, including Degenkolb and Van Avermaet. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) for example. The Slovak is eager for a good performance in France. The same applies to Italian Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) and his teammate Heinrich Haussler and Dutchman Sebastian Langeveld (Garmin-Sharp).
The drivers have to master a total of 257 kilometers from Compiègne to Roubaix. Of these, there are 28 sectors with different difficult to cope with plaster. The race starts at the latest in Arenberg forest. The favorites have to be wide awake here. A defect or a fall can already lead to a preliminary decision.
The total length of the 28 pavés is more than 51 kilometers. The following sections are on the agenda:
- Pavé 28: After 97,5 kilometers / Troisvilles à Inchy / 2,2 kilometers
- Pavé 27: After 104 kilometers / Viesly à Quiévy / 1,8 kilometers
- Paving stone 26: After 106,5 kilometers / Quiévy à Saint-Python / 3,7 kilometers
- Paving stone 25: After 111 kilometers / Saint-Python / 1,5 kilometers
- Pavé 24: After 119,5 kilometers / Solesmes à Haussy / 0,8 kilometers
- Pavé 23: After 126 kilometers / Saulzoir à Verchain-Maugré / 1,2 kilometers
- Pavé 22: After 130,5 kilometers / Verchain-Maugré à Quérénaing / 1,6 kilometers
- Pavé 21: After 135 kilometers / Quérénaing à Famars / 1,2 kilometers
- Pavé 20: After 140,5 kilometers / Maing à Monchaux-sur-Écaillon / 1,6 kilometers
- Pavé 19: After 153 kilometers / Haveluy à Wallers / 2,5 kilometers
- Pavé 18: After 161,5 kilometers / Trouée d'Arenberg / 2,4 kilometers
- Pavé 17: After 167,5 kilometers / Wallers à Hélesmes / 1,6 kilometers
- Pavé 16: After 174,5 kilometers / Hornaing à Wandignies / 3,7 kilometers
- Pavé 15: After 182 kilometers / Warlaing à Brillon / 2,4 kilometers
- Pavé 14: After 185 kilometers / Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières / 2,4 kilometers
- Pavé 13: After 191,5 kilometers / Beuvry-la-Forêt à Orchies / 1,4 kilometers
- Pavé 12: After 196,5 kilometers / Orchies / 1,7 kilometers
- Pavé 11: After 202,5 kilometers / Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée / 2,7 kilometers
- Pavé 10: After 208 kilometers / Mons-en-Pévèle / 3 kilometers
- Pavé 9: After 214 kilometers / Mérignies à Avelin / 0,7 kilometers
- Pavé 8: After 217,5 kilometers / Pont-Thibaut à Ennevelin / 1,4 kilometers
- Pavé 7: After 223,5 kilometers / Templeuve (Moulin-de-Vertain) / 0,5 kilometers
- Pavé 6: After 230 kilometers / Cysoing à Bourghelles / 1,3 kilometers
- Pavé 6: After 232,5 kilometers / Bourghelles à Wannehain / 1,1 kilometers
- Pavé 5: After 237 kilometers / Camphin-en-Pévèle / 1,8 kilometers
- Pavé 4: After 240 kilometers / Carrefour de l'Arbre / 2,1 kilometers
- Pavé 3: After 242 kilometers / Gruson / 1,1 kilometers
- Pavé 2: After 249 kilometers / Willems à Hem / 1,4 kilometers
- Pavé 1: After 256 kilometers / Roubaix (espace Crupelandt) / 0,3 kilometers