l’Enfer du Nord. Another monument. This edition is raced under better weather conditions which I think will bring a better bike race overall. I could live without a muddy Paris – Roubaix for a few years to come. 47 km of cobblestones – finishing in Roubaix, at the Velodrome. You know it as well as I, flat and 30 cobbled sectors.
Below is the overview of the cobbled sectors. With Arenberg, Pévèle and Carrefour with five stars.
Well, all of them. A look at where the dynamics have changed in the past few years.
19. Pavé de la Trouée d’Arenberg
Most iconic Pavé for myself. Width of 3 meters and 2.3 km of cobblestones that could have been put down better by Stewie Wonder. Les Amis des Paris-Roubaix has said, this is the worst of the worst. The race is not won here, but the losers are.
The second five-star section. 3 km on narrow roads and with two turns as well. In recent years, it has actually been 12. Bersée (the section before it) has determined another important selection. In the last three editions, an important move was made on Bersée.
4. Pavé du Carrefour de l’Arbre
The last five-star section. Starting with just 17 km left, finishing 15 km from home. Just before it is the four-star Camphin-en-Pévèle
Warm and with wind from the east.
Mathieu van der Poel with the chance of taking the double. It is a race that suits him, and for once he has a very strong team to support him. I think he is still pissed he did not have the legs last year to lift the cobblestone above his head and given his current form, he starts as the favorite.
Kasper Asgreen should do well here. I have always thought this would be a better match for him compared to Ronde. Big engine and on his best days a very hard man to follow when he attacks on the cobbles. Ronde was not good, but Amstel Gold Race gave me a good feeling.
Florian Sénéchal has been on my radar for some time now. A lot of unlucky mechanicals and crashes do not give you good results. If Quick-Step is to safe their classics season, he and Lampaert must step up tomorrow and provide some help for Asgreen or go it themselves. He is from Cambrai, which is very close the race, he might now the cobbles better than anyone else.
Wout van Aert – how much has he been set back? Covid-19 has shown in the season that it takes a toll on the riders. Close to two weeks without optimal training makes it hard for me to point at him.
Christophe Laporte – it is time for the Frenchman to exploit he will have a free role. Most will probably still look at Wout van Aert which is an advantage for him. Sixth here last year without brakes and he is even better this year.
Stefan Küng the big Swiss engine has had the best season I can remember. It is perfect for him that it is flat and not hilly. He often attacks quite early, which I think is very smart for Roubaix.
Dylan van Baarle is my go-to man for INEOS. The youngsters will get their time to shine, but this is a very hard and long race, not a semi-classic in Belgium. Second in Ronde van Vlaanderen is impressive, and it seems he has carried the form.
Mads Pedersen is the hyped Dane for the race. Well, Mads started hyping himself! He has been very good this season, and I’m surprised he still is in good shape. The weather is not something he is fond of, but his whole season has been made for him to ride fast tomorrow.
Jasper Stuyven gives Trek-Segafredo two options. I do really like Stuyven, but he has had a poor season so far. I wonder if he will arrive fresh since has not raced since Flanders, we will find out tomorrow.
Who will win?
I’m taking a win for Mathieu van der Poel. His form is through the roof, he has a strong team and he is the best bike-handler in the peloton.