When the cobble-weary peloton lines up in Compiègne for the 112th Paris-Roubaix, there will lie before them 51 brutal, stone-filled kilometers to the Roubaix Velodrome.
The 2014 edition of Paris-Roubaix spans 257 kilometers and 28 sectors of cobblestones, visiting some sections that have been absent for 10 years.
Per usual, the peloton will hit the first sections of rough stuff 100 kilometers into “The Hell of the North,” but it’s shortly thereafter that deviations from the 2013 route occur. The initial cobblestones surface near Troisvilles, and almost 20km further the pack will reacquaint itself with sections at Haussy (800 meters) and Saulzoir (1,200m), which both appear after an absence of 10 years. As for a 1,200m section at Famars, it’s been dormant for two years.
The race will almost surely be won by a hearty classics specialist such as Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) or Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), but this edition may prove interesting as the 2014 Tour de France will feature five sectors also used in Paris-Roubaix, making up some 15 kilometers of cobbles during stage 5. That may mean this Paris-Roubaix sees a bundle of general classification riders suit up in an effort to simulate what may well be a race-making stage at the Tour, should a GC rider falter. The Tour last visited the pave in 2010, when Cancellara and Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) drove a significant wedge into the GC, with riders including Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong losing more than a minute.
The 2014 Tour will use nine cobbled sectors that will feature in Paris-Roubaix, though only one section — at Mons-en-Pévèle — will be ridden in the same direction, according to ASO, organizer of both races.
Cobbles featured in 2014 Paris-Roubaix and Tour de France:
Gruson-Carrefour de l’arbre (1,100m)
Mons-en-Pévèle (3,000m in PR / 1,000m in TDF)
Bersée (2,600m in PR / 1,400m in TDF)
Orchies — Beuvry (1,400m)
Sars-et-Rosières — Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes (2,400m)
Brillon-Warlaing (2,400m in PR / 1,400m in the TDF)