Paris Roubaix Challenge route introduced by legends of the race
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Monday, February 28, 2011

Paris Roubaix Challenge route introduced by legends of the race

by Ben Atkins at 6:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Training, Preparation, and Health, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
Bernard Hinault and Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle instruct amateur riders on the way to ride the cobbles

bernard hinaultBernard Hinault and Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, two former winners of Paris-Roubaix, were on hand today to guide a group of amateur riders over the course of the Paris-Roubaix challenge. Hinault, the winner of the 1981 race, led a group on a 72km route, which included 25km of cobbles; Duclos-Lassalle, the winner in 1992 and 1993, meanwhile led an initiation session on the cobbled sector at Cysoing, which is dedicated to him.

Despite the muddy conditions, Hinault’s group suffered just three punctures, only a few crashes and no injuries. While experienced riders, few of the party had ever experienced the notorious pavé du Nord before.

“The essential piece of advice that I gave them was to help them try and find the best line to ride,” said the Badger, who notoriously hated the race but still felt it his duty to conquer it. “That said, it will surely be a more delicate exercise on the day of the race, because, just like with the professionals, to choose your racing line, you need to be out in front.”

In 1981 Hinault, clad in the rainbow jersey of World champion, crashed several times during the race, including one time close to the finish. He remounted though, chasing down the lead group containing four-time winner Roger De Vlaeminck and three-time winner Francesco Moser (who was on for his fourth straight win), then outsprinted them all on the concrete track of the famous vélodrome.

Hinault went on to take his third of five Tours de France that July and, with most riders in the modern sport specialising in one area or the other, remains the last rider to have won Paris-Roubaix and the Tour in the same year.

Duclos-Lassalle on the other hand had a career that was almost defined by the Enfer du Nord. After finishing second to Moser in 1980 and Hennie Kuiper in 1983, Gibus finally won the race in 1992 at the age of 37; he returned to win the race again the following year, outsprinting Franco Ballerini in a photo finish that the Italian at first thought he had taken.

The Frenchman has a number of points of the race dedicated to him; as well as the Cysoing sector, which comes just 25km from the finish, the gap in the disused railway embankment on the Wallers section, which once a had a bridge pass over it, has been dubbed the ‘Pont Gibus’.

Gibus spent the morning coaching a group of pavé novices on the art of riding the stones.

“A lot of people thought it would be easier to ride the race on a mountain bike, but in reality, road racers are a lot lighter and faster on the cobbles,” he explained. “As a result, it’s easier to tackle them and everyone found that out. What’s more, they also had to learn that relaxing helps to absorb the bumps of the cobbles more efficiently.”

The Paris-Roubaix challenge will be held on April 9th, the day before the WorldTour race, and cover 162km between the town of St Quentin and the vélodrome at Roubaix; although the timed section will end at 147km at the end of the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector.

Riders will be required to cover 31.6km of the notorious cobblestones before they can earn their shower in the vélodrome’s notorious cattleshed-style facilities.


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