Paris-Roubaix is among the toughest one-day races on the calendar – if not the toughest, and it takes the toughest individual to win. After having endured a daunting gauntlet of cobbles the pilots arrive in the Roubaix Velodrome. A perfect blend of positioning, bike handling, power and tactical nous are essential if you want to win the Hell of the North. But let’s not forget about of a large slice of luck either. Given the conditions, mechanical issues are unavoidable in Roubaix, the timing of which can be the difference between winning and losing.
Looking at the statistics, Sep Vanmarcke is a master in controling the above factors. In the last four editions he finished three times with the first four pilots. Yet he is out of contention after breaking his finger in last week’s Tour of Flanders. On to Niki Terpstra then. The Dutchman rode three times top-5 in the last five years, but in last two editions he didn’t come close, while Zdenek Stybar was three times out of five one of the best six riders. When John Degenkolb and Tom Boonen are racing the finale we can expect them to perform excellent. The German did win the race in 2015 and finished in second in 2014 (last year he was recovering from a nasty crash), while record holder Boonen took the win in 2012 and was runner-up behind Hayman in last year’s edition.
Yet, statistics don’t tell the full story. Take Vanmarcke. On the other side of the spectrum we find Greg Van Avermaet. After he sprinted to gold in Rio the Flemish rider is on a roll, winning one Classic after the other. He took the win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. Peter Sagan was strong in the spring Classics also, almost aways racing in the front line and winning Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Remarkably, the World Champion has yet to land a result in five rides at Paris-Roubaix – his best performance was sixth place (2014).
Mathew Hayman (2016), John Degenkolb (2015), Niki Terpstra (2014), and Tom Boonen (2005, 2008, 2009, 2012) are the only pilots who won Paris-Roubaix before. If Boonen takes another win he is the sole record holder, a record he now shares with his compatriot Roger De Vlaeminck.
Favourites Paris-Roubaix 2017
***** John Degenkolb, Tom Boonen, Greg Van Avermaet
**** Peter Sagan, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra, Oliver Naesen
*** Edvald Boasson Hagen, Arnaud Démare, Dylan van Baarle, Jens Keukeleire
** Mathew Hayman, Alexander Kristoff, Luke Durbridge, Ian Stannard
* Lars Boom, Luke Rowe, Yves Lampaert, Jens Debusschere
Paris-Roubaix 2017: Route maps, and more
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Cobbled sections Paris-Roubaix
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Videos Paris – Roubaix