Arguably, Paris-Roubaix is the toughest one-day race on the calendar 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 to win the Hell of the North. But let’s not forget 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, Zdenek Stybar is a master in controlling the above factors. He brought six top 10’s home in the last seven editions. The former World Champion cyclo-cross never lifted the cobble-stone trophy, but was runner-up twice (2017, 2015). Moreover, he looked strong on the road race of last World Championships.
Wout van Aert was the absolute favourite to win the rainbow jersey in Flanders, but he didn’t deliver. A triumph on the Roubaix Velodrome would be a balm to ease the home nations pain.
Still competitive riders who took home the cobble-stone trophy are Philippe Gilbert (2019), Peter Sagan (2018), Greg Van Avermaet (2017), John Degenkolb (2015) and Niki Terpstra (2014). All five start in the autumn edition of the Hell of the North, and four of them could use a success. Sagan is the only one who did win a number of races this year, the other four are still waiting for a win in 2021.
Favourites 2021 Paris-Roubaix
**** Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Zdenek Stybar
*** Yves Lampaert, Jasper Stuyven, Dylan van Baarle, Florian Sénéchal
** Michael Valgren, Gianni Moscon, Sonny Colbrelli, Peter Sagan, Kasper Asgreen
* Stefan Küng, Sep Vanmarcke, Nils Eekhoff, Greg Van Avermaet, Nils Politt