Paris-Roubaix 2014 preview

Guide to the "Hell of the North"

Last Updated: 13/04/14 11:02am

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Paris-Roubaix is known as the "Queen of the Classics"

Paris-Roubaix is known as the "Queen of the Classics"

The cycling world grinds to a halt on Sunday for one of the most prestigious and challenging races in the sport, Paris-Roubaix (April 13).

Also known as the "Queen of the Classics" and the "Hell of the North", the 257km marathon presents a unique test of endurance, bike handling, toughness and sheer will to win.

Some of the finest riders in history have built legacies around their successes in this race, with victory in the famous Roubaix Velodrome the defining moment in the career of many riders.

There are no climbs of note to navigate, but the riders instead have to negotiate 51.1km on bone-jarring cobblestones split over no fewer than 28 sections.

The route

The race kicks off at the Place du Palais in the now-traditional start town of Compiegne, 70km north-east of Paris, on Sunday morning.

The riders head north in search of cobbles (each graded on account of their length and severity), with the first of 28 sectors arriving after 97.5km at Troisvilles.

The most famous of all the sectors is the Trouee d'Arenberg, which will be tackled with 95.5km left. Although the race is not often won on the hellishly difficult surface of "the trench", it can easily be lost, as a crash or puncture will be difficult to recover from.

Positioning ahead of each key sector is vital. Starting at 54.5km to go, difficult sections at Auchy-lez-Orchies and Mons-en-Pevele will then thin the group out further, with the favourites usually becoming keen to force the winning move at this point.

The next flashpoint is the stretch through the section at Camphin-en-Pevele and especially Le Carrefour de l'Arbre. Separated by barely a kilometre and coming with under 20km to go, they sectors provide a perfect launching pad for a strike for home.

Three more sections of lesser cobbles must be negotiated on the 14km to the finish line, where a legendary finale awaits the front-runners in the form of one and a half laps of the Roubaix Velodrome.

The cobbles

The favourites

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing)
A three-time winner and the defending champion, "Spartacus" can join Tom Boonen and Roger de Vlaeminck on a record four wins win another victory on Sunday. He carries fine form into the race following his win at the Tour of Flanders and will be the man to beat.

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
Boonen's pedigree at Paris-Roubaix cannot be questioned, with his quartet of wins making him one of the legends of the race. However, whether he has the condition and form to go out on his own with five wins is more up for debate, having been unable to follow Cancellara's decisive move at the Tour of Flanders.

Fabian Cancellara is fresh from his win at the Tour of Flanders

Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin)
After coming second to Cancellara last year in the most agonising of circumstances (he was beaten in a sprint in the Roubaix Velodrome), the Dutchman has a score to settle this time around. Like Cancellara, he also has fine form, having finished fourth, third, fifth, fourth and third in the five Classics he has ridden so far this season. He was the only man who could follow Cancellara's move at the Tour of Flanders last Sunday and, once again, it was just the sprint that saw him defeated.

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
Quick-Step's second card to play should Boonen's challenge not materialise. The Dutchman has good form - he won Dwars Door Vlaanderen and finished second at E3 Harelbeke - and although he missed the decisive move at the Tour of Flanders, he chased back to finish sixth. Terpstra also finished third in last year's Paris-Roubaix, so can flourish on the course.

The outsiders

Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
The Slovak prodigy doesn't usually fancy his chances at Paris-Roubaix and has consequently skipped the race for the past two years. However, with his search for a first Monument win still ongoing, he has decided to return to the "Hell of the North" to see if he can finally crack the nut. This man can win virtually any race on his day, so can't be discounted, but whether he can get the better on an in-form Cancellara on more than 50km of cobbles is debatable.

Greg van Avermaet finished second at the Tour of Flanders

Greg van Avermaet (BMC)
Fourth last year and second at the Tour of Flanders last week, the Belgian has a very good chance of being there or thereabouts. Like Vanmarcke, he is developing into somewhat of a Classics nearly man and a win is overdue.

Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
Quick-Step's second trump card, Stybar finished sixth in in a hugely impressive Paris-Roubaix debut last year. His Classics campaign this year hasn't yet yielded the type of results he would have hoped for, but it would nevertheless not be a shock to see Stybar at the head of the race entering the Roubaix Velodrome.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
The big Norwegian sprinter is highly adept over the cobbles and finished in the top 10 of last year's race. An impressive late charge and fifth-place finish at the Tour of Flanders last week also suggested he has the form and condition to be a threat. He also known what it takes to win, having triumphed at Milan-San Remo last month.

Previous winners

2013: Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
2012: Tom Boonen (Bel)
2011: Johan Vansummeren (Bel)
2010: Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
2009: Tom Boonen (Bel)
2008: Tom Boonen (Bel)
2007: Stuart O'Grady (Aus)
2006: Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
2005: Tom Boonen (Bel)
2004: Magnus Backstedt (Swe)

Brit watch

David Millar (Garmin-Sharp)
Luke Rowe (Team Sky)
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
Jonathan McEoy (NetApp-Endura)

Teams and riders

WorldTour

Ag2r-La Mondiale: Gediminas Bagdonas (Lit), Steve Chainel (Fra), Maxime Daniel (Fra), Damien Gaudin (Fra), Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr), Sebastien Minard (Fra), Lloyd Mondory (Fra), Sebastien Turgot (Fra).

Astana: Borut Bozic (Slo), Daniil Fominykh (Kaz), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz), Evan Huffman (USA), Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz), Arman Kamyshev (Kaz), Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz).

Belkin: Lars Boom (Ned), Tom Leezer (Ned), Bram Tankink (Ned), Maarten Tjallingii (Ned), Jos van Emden (Ned), Sep Vanmarcke (Bel), Robert Wagner (Ger), Maarten Wynants (Bel).

Sep Vanmarcke was runner-up last year

BMC: Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Silvan Dillier (Swi), Thor Hushovd (Nor), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (Ita), Michael Schar (Swi), Greg van Avermaet (Bel), Danilo Wyss (Swi).

Cannondale: Peter Sagan (Svk), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Edward King (USA), Kristjan Koren (SLo), Matthias Krizek (Aut), Paolo Longo (Ita), Alan Marangoni (Ita), Fabio Sabatini (Ita).

Europcar: Jerome Vincent (Fra), Jerome Cousin (Fra), Antoine Duchesne (Can), Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra), Yohann Gene (Fra), Yannick Martinez (Fra), Alexandre Pichot (Fra), Bjorn Thurau (Ger).

FDJ: Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra), William Bonnet (Fra), David Boucher (Bel), Mickael Delage (Fra), Arnaud Demare (Fra), Murilo Fischer (Bra), Johan e Bon (Fra), Yoann Offredo (Fra).

Garmin-Sharp: Johan Vansummeren (Bel), Jack Bauer (NZ), Tyler Farrar (USA), Lasse Norman Hansen (Den), Raymond Kreder (Ned), Sebastian Langeveld (Ned), David Millar (GB), Dylan van Baarle (Ned).

Giant-Shimano: John Degenkolb (Ger), Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned), Nikias Arndt (Ger), Bert de Backer (Bel), Koen de Kort (Ned), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA), Tom Stamsnijder (Ned), Roy Curvers (Ned).

Katusha: Alexander Kristoff (Nor), Vladimir Gusev (Rus), Vladimir Isaychev (Rus), Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr), Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus), Luca Paolini (Ita), Rudiger Selig (Ger), Gatis Smukulis (Lat).

Peter Sagan is still looking for a first Monument win

Lampre-Merida: Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita), Davide Cimolai (Ita), Elia Favalli (Ita), Roberto Ferrari (Ita), Sacha Modolo (Ita), Andrea Palini (Ita), Filippo Pozzato (Ita), Luca Wackermann (Ita).

Lotto Belisol: Lars Ytting Bak (Den), Kris Boeckmans (Bel), Vegard Breen (Nor), Stig Broeckx (Bel), Kenny Dehaes (Bel), Jens Debusschere (Bel), Marcel Sieberg (Ger), Boris Vallee (Bel).

Movistar: Alex Dowsett (GB), Imanol Erviti (Spa), Ivan Gutierrez (Spa), Jesus Herrada (Spa), Juan Jose Lobato (Spa), Dayer Quintana (Col), Jasha Sutterlin (Ger), Fran Ventoso (Spa).

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step: Tom Boonen (Bel), Iljo Keisse (Bel), Niko Maes (Bel), Zdenek Stybar (Cze), Niki Terpstra (Ned), Matteo Trentin (Ita), Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Bel), Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel).

Orica-GreenEdge: Mathew Hayman (Aus), Sam Bewley (NZ), Mitchell Docker (Aus), Luke Durbridge (Aus), Michael Hepburn (Aus), Jens Keukeleire (Bel), Aidis Kruopis (Lit), Jens Mouris (Ned).

Team Sky: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Christian Knees (Ger), Salvatore Puccio (Ita), Gabriel Rasch (Nor), Luke Rowe (GB), Geraint Thomas (GB), Bradley Wiggins (GB).

Tinkoff-Saxo: Manuele Boaro (Ita), Jesper Hansen (Den), Chris Juul-Jensen (Den), Michael Kolar (Svk), Marko Kump (Slo), Michael Morkov (Den), Nicki Sorensen (Den), Nikolay Trusev (Rus).

Trek Factory Racing: Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Stijn Devolder (Bel), Markel Irizar (Spa), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Gregory Rast (Swi), Hayden Roulston (NZ), Jesse Sergent (NZ), Jasper Stuyven (Bel).

Niki Terpstra will be Quick-Step's Plan B

Pro Continental

Bretagne-Seche Environnement: Erwann Corbel (Fra), Brice Feillu (Fra), Benoit Jarrier (Fra), Clement Koretzky (Fra), Christophe Laborie (Fra), Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor), Benjamin Le Montagner (Fra), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra).

Cofidis: Julien Fouchard (Fra), Egoitz Garcia (Spa), Gert Joeaar (Est), Christophe Laporte (Fra), Cyril Lemoine (Fra), Adrien Petit (Fra), Florian Senechal (Fra), Louis Verhelst (Bel).

IAM Cycling: Marcel Aregger (Swi), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Sebastien Hinault (Fra), Dominic Klemme (Ger), Roger Kluge (Ger), Matteo Pelucchi (Ita), Jerome Pineau (Fra), Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat).

NetApp-Endura: Jan Barta (Cze), Sam Bennett (Ire), Zak Dempster (Aus), Blaz Jarc (Slo), Ralf Matzka (Ger), Jonathan McEvoy (GB), Andreas Schillinger (Ger), Michael Schwarzmann (Ger).

Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Jelle Wallays (Bel), Tim Declercq (Bel), Yves Lampaert (Bel), Jarl Salomein (Bel), Stijn Steels (Bel), Edward Theuns (Bel), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel), Preben van Hecke (Bel).

UnitedHealthcare: Alessandro Bazzana (Ita), Robert Forster (Ger), Davide Frattini (Ita), Ken Hanson (USA), Martijn Maaskant (Ned), John Murphy (USA), Daniel Summerhill (USA), Bradley White (USA).

Wanty-Groupe Gobert: Bjorn Leukemans (Bel), Tim de Troyer (Bel), Laurens de Vreese (Bel), Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux), Wesley Kreder (Ned), Mirko Selvaggi (Ita), James Vanlandschoot (Bel), Frederik Veuchelen (Bel).

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