The Queen of the Classics, L’enfer du Nord, The Hell of the North – the many nicknames of Paris-Roubaix reflect its reputation as probably the hardest one-day race in the world. The cobbles, the dirt, the mud, the crashes; it’s a race that captures the attention like few others. For this piece we trawled the archives to find some images that capture just how hard the Hell of the North is. Enjoy!
The 2017 edition of Paris-Roubaix is 257km long and takes the riders from Compiègne to Roubaix. Along the way they’ll face 29 cobbled sectors of varying degrees of brutality, for a total of 55 cobbled kilometres.
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) go into the race among the top favourites, the former having had his best spring ever; the latter having looked dangerous every time he’s pinned on a number in the last few years. Tom Boonen (QuickStep Floors), too, goes in as one of the riders to beat. It’s Tommeke’s last ever race as a professional, and he’ll be giving it everything to try and take a record-breaking fifth win at Roubaix. It would be nothing short of a fairytale were he to do so.
Of course, predicting winners in bike races is a fraught exercise, particularly when you’re talking about a cobbled Monument like Paris-Roubaix; a race in which so much can go wrong so quickly. There are any number of riders that could create history and win the 2017 Paris-Roubaix.