The riders of the Paris-Roubaix cycling race set off this Sunday at 11 a.m. For two kilometers, they will pass Camphin-en-Pévèle, in the cobblestone sector of the North. To determine the top of the race, everything will be decided in the middle of the afternoon.
The 119th edition of the Paris-Roubaix cycling race has given its start. In Camphin-en-Pévèle, a key sector made of cobblestones, the runner who takes the lead at the crossroads of the tree, wins the race. That’s what a lot of racers say. Over two kilometres, the track is extremely complicated. Europe 1 met a group of amateur runners. Arriving in front of the cobblestones, they dismounted. “We know them a little. And so, we’re going to turn around,” said one of the fans jokingly. “It’s slippery. They are therefore disjoint automatically, it’s difficult”, specifies another, considerate. “We’re not crazy! You’ve never done it? Go ahead, you’ll see!”
The sun replaces the mud of the previous edition
“The bike is shaking all over the place and it’s hell,” says a cyclist. So, this year, return of Paris-Roubaix in the spring, dry cobblestones and sunshine. Nothing to do with the previous edition last October, where the rain and terrible weather for the runners had made the ground muddy.
“Muddy is a show, but for them it’s not fun. There, it will be better, even if there will be dust.” The first cyclists are expected at the crossroads of the tree, shortly before 5 p.m. Here, we already see a lot of Belgians, Flemings arriving. Many are betting on a victory for Mathieu van der Poel, the grandson of Raymond Poulidor.
Is the coronation of a French runner possible?
No French rider has won the race since Frédéric Guesdon in 1997. But this year, there is hope. “We can hope so since there is only one favorite at first: van der Poel and his team”, explains Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, double winner of Paris-Roubaix in 1992 and 1993.
“It’s not always easy to last the whole race with your team because there are a lot of contenders. And we can see this at the start of Paris-Roubaix, there is a large group of around fifty riders who is gone and it can be dangerous for van der Poel. So, in this little game, a Frenchman can stand out if he is in the right breakaway, “he adds. The Tour de France will use several cobbled sections next July. But for Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, the Paris-Roubaix does not constitute training, since this race does not put forward the same type of runners.