The road to hell is paved with grand ambitions
February 17 th 2023 - 14:00
The 120th Paris–Roubaix will be held on Sunday, 9 April, on a 256.6 km course stretching from Compiègne to Roubaix Velodrome and featuring 54.5 km of cobblestones. One of the 29 sectors on the menu —Haspres— is returning to the race nearly two decades after its latest appearance.
No-one can tame the cobblestones of Paris–Roubaix. The riotous 2022 edition showed that, in our day and age, it is not unusual for a favourite to find himself on the wrong end of a split before the race even starts in earnest —as Mads Pedersen is painfully aware—, for fortune to favour the bold —as Dylan van Baarle can attest— or for a cruel twist of fate to dash the hopes of a rider who just a few seconds earlier seemed invincible —as happened to Matej Mohorič. The menu of the 120th running of the race will serve up another hearty ration of drama, starting with the traditional first contact with the cobblestones in Troisvilles, just under 100 kilometres after the start in Compiègne. A bit further down the road, the changes made to the course this year will make their appearance in the run-up to the Trouée d'Arenberg, with the return of the Haspres sector (km 139.6), unseen since spring 2004. In 2001, this 1,700-metre section, which Thierry Gouvenou freely admits is "not very well paved”, went hand in hand with the debut of the Haveluy sector, coming a dozen kilometres later. From there, it is a long, hard slog to the finish. The highlights are the "five-star" sectors that will separate the wheat from the chaff, namely, the Trouée d'Arenberg (km 161.3), Mons-en-Pévèle (km 208) and the Carrefour de l'Arbre (km 239.5).