A tough but recently unused cobbled sector will return to Paris-Roubaix in 2013.
Next year, the 111th edition of the “Hell of the North” will see the reintroduction of 1.6km of cobbles linking the French towns of Wallers and Hélesmes. The stretch was last used in 2008, when it came 170km into the race. In that edition, riders encountered this four-star sector just 4km after leaving the Forest of Arenberg.
This year, Jean-François Pescheux, technical director of the ASO, which also owns the Tour de France, and Thierry Gouvenou, a French former professional, visited the stretch of cobbles in the 5,500-resident town of Wallers. They initiated restoration of the road with the assistance of two-time (1992, 1993) Roubaix winner Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle.
Race organizers have made assurances that the section, now dubbed “Pont Gibus” in reference to Duclos-Lassalle’s nickname and marked with newly-engraved cobbles, will make the race in 2013, although its exact location in the 260km race will be decided in December.
Paris-Roubaix, which finishes in the outdoor Roubaix velodrome, currently features 27 sections of the cobbles which make it famous. The return of Pont Gibus, or Wallers-Hélesmes, will boost that count to 28. The sectors are graded on a scale of one to five stars, with Wallers-Hélesmes’ four-star rating placing it among the longest and most difficult sectors in the race.