Paris Roubaix is a prestigious one-day cycling race held annually in Northern France. It is considered one of the most difficult and challenging races on the professional cycling calendar, primarily due to its cobblestone sectors. The race is known for its rough and treacherous terrain, which can make or break the riders’ chances of winning. In this article, we will discuss the major cobbled sectors that decide the winner of Paris Roubaix. Since 2021 there has also been a women’s race, the Paris Roubaix Femmes and they also race over these key cobbled sections.
The Trouée d’Arenberg is arguably the most famous and most difficult cobbled sector of Paris Roubaix. It is 2.4 km long and features uneven cobblestones, making it extremely challenging for riders to maintain their balance and speed. This sector usually separates the contenders from the pretenders and can make or break a rider’s chances of winning. A long straight road through the forest, the peloton will hit it at speed and try to hold onto that momentum. The bridge above the Arenberg is an iconic sight in cycling.
This sector is the longest of the race, measuring 3 km long, and is also one of the most challenging. The cobblestones are large and uneven, and the sector features several twists and turns, making it difficult for riders to maintain their momentum. The sector is also known for its mud and can be treacherous when wet.
Carrefour de l’Arbre
This sector is the penultimate cobbled sector of the race and is 2.1 km long. The cobblestones are narrow, and the sector is flanked by trees, which can make it difficult for riders to stay upright. This sector is often decisive in the race and can play a crucial role in determining the winner.
This sector is 1.8 km long and features small, even cobblestones. While it may not be as difficult as some of the other sectors, it can still be challenging, especially if there is rain, which can make the cobblestones slippery.
This sector is 1.1km long and is located near the end of the race. It comes straight after the Carrefour de l’Arbre so riders have little to no time to recover from the effort of that section. This sector can be decisive in the final kilometres of the race, and riders who can navigate it successfully have a good chance of winning.
In addition to these cobbled sectors, there are several other sectors that can play a role in determining the winner of Paris Roubaix. These include the sector of Cysoing – Bourghelles, which is 1.3 km long and features small, even cobblestones. While it may not be as difficult as some of the other sectors, it is located near the end of the race and can be decisive in the final outcome. Orchies and Beuvry-la-Forêt come very quickly together in a key part of the race. Orchies is particularly long and any mechanical there can be a race-ender.
The cobbled sectors of Paris Roubaix are what make the race so challenging and exciting. Riders who can navigate these sectors successfully and maintain their speed and balance have a good chance of winning. However, the cobblestones are unpredictable, and even the most experienced riders can be caught out. Ultimately, the winner of Paris Roubaix is determined by a combination of skill, strength, and luck, and it is always a thrilling race to watch.