The Hell of the North opens with almost 100 kilometres on flat and smooth asphalt. That’s roughly two hours to warm up to the idea that an onslaught is imminent.
The hardship begins near Troisvilles on a stretch of pavé with three stars and a length of 2,200 metres. The route continues with every 6 kilometres or so a bunch of cobbles. But actually, this phase of the race is just about creating suspense.
Tension rises when approaching the Arenberg Forest at the heart of the race. The so called Trouée d’Arenberg is 2,284 metres long and rendered dark by the over-stretching trees on either side. The road heads straight on through the woods and because it descends slightly in the first half speeds are high. Aspiring winners should be at the front, otherwise you risk getting caught up behind or in crashes.
Paris-Roubaix really is on fire when hitting the pavé to Wandignies-Hamage and the route continues onto Mons-en-Pévèle. The combination of the length of 2,985 metres and the sorry state of the cobbles account for brutal hardship in the peloton.
Still eleven sectors remaining after leaving Mons-en-Pévèle. Within less than 30 kilometres the pilots tackle the pavé of Mérignies à Avelin (700 metres), Pont-Thibault à Ennevelin (1,400 metres), Templeuve – L’Epinette (200 metres), Templeuve-Moulin-de-Vertain (500 metres), Cysoing à Bourghelles (1,300 metres), Bourghelles à Wannehain (1,100 metres) and Camphin-en-Pévèle (1,800 metres).
The iconic Carrefour de l’Arbre appears with 16.5 kilometres left. At 2,086 metres, this stretch of pavé is feared for the sloped corners. After 1,200 metres a tricky left-hand bend leads to a slight ascent. Specialists who want to strike on their beloved pavé should to do it on the Carrefour de l’Arbre, as this is their last opportunity. The last three sectors are too easy.
Gruson and Willems à Hem lead the way to the last cobbled section, in Roubaix itself, which is only there for show. The cobbles are neatly organised to avoid major discomfort. Riders continue into the old Velodrome with one and a half laps to go.
After the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic, last year’s race took place in October. It turned into a muddy affair with Sonny Colbrelli emerging victorious. The Italian outgunned Florian Vermeersch and Mathieu van der Poel in a sprint-à-trois. The young Flemish rider was the last survivor from the breakaway, while the other two were active since the Arenberg Forest.
Ride the route yourself? Download GPX Paris-Roubaix 2022.
Paris – Roubaix 2022: route, profile, more
Click on the images to zoom