Forest of Arenberg in danger of being left out of Paris-Roubaix
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forest of Arenberg in danger of being left out of Paris-Roubaix

by VeloNation Press at 11:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Roubaix
Organisers warn of dangers unless restoration on cobbles is carried out

ArenbergThe most famous stretch of cobbles in Paris-Roubaix is in danger of being dropped from the 2012 edition of the race, with poor conditions making it a greater risk than usual to the riders.

According to L’Equipe, Thierry Gouvenou and Jean-Francois Pescheux of the ASO race organisation went to inspect the cobbles recently and were worried by what they saw.

Pescheux told the French newspaper that “nature has reasserted itself, and moss is covering the ground. In the month of December, we warned the public authorities and the national forestry office. Without the cleaning of the trench [the Arenberg trench, as the sector is known – ed.], we can’t use it this year.”

Even when it is in perfect shape, the sector is one that always has an element of danger to it, causing crashes, punctures and splits in the peloton each year. It was dropped seven years ago and Pescheux is concerned. “It is practically in the same state in 2005,” he said, referring to that edition of the race.

The race is not until April eighth and so it is crucial that something is done well before then. If repairs aren’t carried out, Gouvenou said that they cannot take any chances. “In dry weather, it is passable, but if it rains, then it can’t be used. You can’t take risks like that,” he said.

It’s something that Johan Museeuw would agree with. After winning in 1996, he fell heavily there two years later, contracted gangrene in his leg and almost lost his limb. He recovered to take repeat victories in 2000 and 2002.

Garmin’s-Barracuda’s Johan Vansummeren triumphed in 2011, pulling off a surprise victory from a early break. Pre-race favourites Fabian Cancellara and Thor Hushovd missed the move, but will both target the race in April.

What happens between now and then will determine if Arenberg, the most iconic stretch of the Hell of the North, the game-changer in so many editions of Paris-Roubaix, will be part of the battleground or not.


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