Paris – Roubaix 2024

This marks the end of the cobbled classics spring season. It looked to be another year with Visma-LAB dominance but it has not been. One rider has been the best, when it mattered. Mathieu van der Poel. If he wins tomorrow, it will be one of the most dominant spring seasons, I’ve seen in a few years.


Seriously, give the guys over at SanLuca some love. This is just fantastic to have this profile for free. It used to be the race, where the finale opened up the earliest, at Trouée d’Arenberg 95.3 km from home. This year, it was Strade Bianche after the route change. I do think the race will open up earlier this year, due to the chicane and recent editions.

And as always, the organizers have created this cheat sheet. 55.7 km of cobblestones


We could see echelons, and we should see echelons. It will be full gas from the start. Hopefully, it stays dry. It will be dry today (women’s edition), but unfortunately it will rain during the night. It means Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix will have a lot to do, in order to fix things up once again. Plus, it looks like the rain may also arrive during the second half of the race. It is a battle against the weather.

How will the race unfold?

So, if we see echelons – or when we do – the question is where. It is a very, very long race and the early sectors are not too difficult. It means you risk spending a lot of domestiques, or yourself, before the finale. It is a risk. In this race, it is also a wise strategy.

I could go over the sectors but you know as well as I, that the sectors are flat. The stars given above are correct. So first off, the chicane. I’m no expert but I do think it is funnier to crash while slowing down on tarmac instead of getting a faceplant in a cobblestone going 65 km/h. Ultimately, it makes me think, that certain teams and riders would want to attack earlier. It means the finale starts on Haveluy à Wallers (103.5 km from the line). I will get back to that later.

First off, Paris-Roubaix is one of the races where it is smart to be in the morning breakaway. Especially since the tailwind sure is helpful. We saw how Alpecin tried in 2023 with Veermersch, Groves and Dillier in order to tire out Visma-Lab. I can see teams trying something similar this year. It can ultimately secure you a top-10 placement. So who is up for that task? This year, it is Alpecin who must try to control the race. Or not, perhaps sending a rider in the morning breakaway is the best option.

After Haveluy à Wallers and Trouée d’Arenberg, we usually have a general idea of who will fight for the win. The new deviation means that everyone will arrive with less speed at the sector and in single-file. It makes positioning even more vital. Then you just have to cross your fingers and hope you don’t puncture or worse. Carrefour de l’Abre is the last very difficult section, this is where the great distance themselves from the good. Degenkolb crashed here in 2023.

Some notes I’ve taken during the years, with help from is this: Bad luck simply plays a large role. It is not as tactical as De Ronde, as you don’t have the Oude Kwaremont + Paterberg, or Koppenberg, where the best easily can distance the rest. It is inefficient to chase. You race from sector to sector, and when you then attack to close a gap, all the domestiques are dropped. Then you must then wait for them to drive you to the next sector. It is full gas at the front, yet stop and go at the back.


Mathieu van der Poel – he starts as the big favorite. By watching him race the past few years, he will likely want the race to open up as early as possible. I think two riders starting here could match him, if they were feeling 100%, yet they don’t. It is his race to lose, which is a shame to put on someone for Paris-Roubaix. He just has a tendency to avoid bad luck, and that gets him halfway tomorrow.

Jasper Philipsen – 2nd last year. Nothing is suggesting he can’t do the same tomorrow. The win in Milano-Sanremo just underlined the fact, that he can handle the distance. It wasn’t an evergreen that result. I think he deep-down knows, that he owes his teammate a win, after Milano-Sanremo. I really do hope he stays at Alpecin, but he is after a big contract and a win tomorrow would give him a big one.

Dylan van Baarle – a bad puncture in E3 and in De Ronde, I think he was part of the crash that happened in the pre-finale. Before that, he played the role of a pawn – he is way to good for that. When he won back in 2022, he had a way better history in the classics leading up to it. Still, I would go leaving him out. Despite it all, when he is on his best days, few beat him in a race such as this. The Dutch-diesel won with a 1’47 margin that day.

Christophe Laporte – saddle sore and stomach problems. Not the ideal preparation. Still, it is a race where magic can happen, Mathew Hayman is a living prof of it. On paper, this is the monument that suits him the most, he was very unlucky last year with a puncture just after Arenberg. He will beat most of the start list in a sprint, after 260 km.

Mads Pedersen – An odd tactic in De Ronde. In hindsight, he was likely not expecting to be riding so well. It is his favorite monument and had it not been for the crash in Dwars Door Vlaanderen, it would have been a coinflip between him and Mathieu, due to the terrain mainly being flat. He was 4th in 2023, he would very much enjoy finishing top-3 tomorrow.

Stefan Küng – he often enjoys attacking before the “tactical points”. I’ve observed than in the past. Therefore, going early is no problem of his, and this is the best monument for him too. He crashed at a bad point in De Ronde, and then it is simply game over. I’d imagine he will contest for a top-5.

John Degenkolb – that crash last year after rewatching. Such a shame. Nobody to blame, it was just bad timing and bad luck. And it likely cost him the podium. A top-10.

Nils Politt – A lot of UAE riders stand a good chance, not all of them will be mentioned. 7th in E3 and 3rd in De Ronde is a very impressive classics season, and likely why he looks to be the road captain for Tour de France. I think he is good enough to challenge for the podium here.

Alberto Bettiol – cramps in Dwars door Vlaanderen and 9th in De Ronde. That doesn’t really add up. I think he would have liked more climbing, it is usually where he can play with the best. A top-10.

Laurenz Rex – your early breakaway hope. The list here could be long.

Who will win?

I think Mathieu van der Poel has everything going for him. A long finale, possible muddy cobbles and his rivals have all had a setback in their preparation.

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