The infamous Paris-Roubaix is the most famous cycling event outside the Grand Tours. The American cyclist, Chris Horner, describes it thus: 'they plowed a dirt road, flew over it with a helicopter, and then just dropped a bunch of rocks out of the helicopter! That's Paris–Roubaix. It's that bad - it's ridiculous!'.

Called The The Queen of the Classics, it is the third of the five Monuments and is more commonly referred to as The Hell of the North - a somewhat misleading name as this particular descripton was coined after race organisers assessed the desolation of the roads in northern France following World War One.

First run in 1896 to publicise a newly opened velodrome in the Roubaix suburb of Lille, Paris–Roubaix is one of cycling's oldest races and it has retained much of its original character. The race still ends in the Roubaix velodrome and the riders shower and change in the same block as their nineteeth century counterparts.

The mileage, the 30 plus miles of cobbles and the intensity of the cycling, both on a physical and mental level, make Paris-Roubaix a huge challenge to riders and their teams. The bikes are set up to deal with the pounding they will inevitably take, yet even so, crashes and mechanical failures are common and will often impact on who will enter the velodrome first.

Even the greats of cycling are not immune to the treacherous path from Paris to Roubaix - or to be specific, town of Compiègne, 40 miles NE of the capital, which has hosted the start of the race since 1968.

Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Fausto Coppi have all triumphed in the Roubaix velodrome, though the achievements of the Italian Francesco Moser (three straight wins from 1978-1980) and the four wins between 1972 and 1977 of Roger De Vlaeminck of Belgium stand out.

More recently, it has been another Belgian, Tom Boonen, who has dominated the race, winning in 2005 and consecutively in 2008 and 2009. His emphatic victory in the 2012 equalled De Vlaeminck's record and for the second time in his career, Boonen secured the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix double.  

No Britain has ever won the Queen of the Classics, though Sean Yates rode to a typically gutsy 5th place in 1994.


Tom Boonen heading for victory in the 2012 Paris-Roubaix  © Suzanne King


Do you have any additions or corrections to this entry? Please submit them here.

Back to Cyclepedia

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Wheelsuckers to add comments!

Join Wheelsuckers

Comment by Dave Nash on April 11, 2014 at 13:21

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step may have other ideas, but the clever money has to be on  Cancellara?

Subscribe to our eNews

Join 4,000+ riders who receive our round-up of cycling news, reviews & tips AND get 5% off designer cycling T-Shirts from n+one

Top Members this Month 

Latest Activity

Mike the Bike commented on Dave Rowe's status
Dave Rowe posted a status
"47m in the farm lanes around Alresford. Plenty GUANO and me my virginal white bar tape! Thank heavens for baby wipes! Still gleamo gleamo!"
Mike the Bike commented on Dave Rowe's status
Dave Rowe posted a status
"The uninsured arse that assaulted the Wiggle AND got between a man and his carrot cake, got a 2'yr ban, 2k fine and 350 costs Justuce!"
Feb 14
Dave Rowe commented on Dave Rowe's photo
Feb 8
Mike the Bike commented on Dave Rowe's photo
Feb 8
Dave Rowe posted a status
"Being a techno-klutz, I forget to label the two pics!1. My restored Wiggle after being trashed by a hit and run. And, 2, WHITE bar tape!"
Feb 7
Dave Rowe posted photos
Feb 7
Profile IconIvan Boto, Jeorge Waters, Mat Shreeve and 6 more joined Wheelsuckers
Feb 5
Mike the Bike commented on Dave Rowe's status
Feb 4
Dave Rowe posted a status
"Aaaargh! CW has done away with their fabulous 'Rides With' feature, replacing it even more driss on Virtual racing platforms! Sigh...."
Feb 3
Mike the Bike posted a status
"We've all heard of helmet hair, but balaclava hair, not so much. I unpeeled this morning's layers and that's what I found. It ain't pretty."
Jan 28

Wheelsuckers on Twitter

© 2019   Wheelsuckers   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service