Cycling gets back to basics this Sunday (April 11) for the Queen of the Classics: Paris-Roubaix. After the cobbled bergs of Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders, Roubaix sits in a league of its own.

No other one-day race on the calendar comes close to the sheer unpredictability, the brutality and the visceral danger of what makes Paris-Roubaix so special.

Fabian Cancellara and his Saxo Bank gave Tom Boonen a trouncing in the Tour of Flanders last weekend and Quick Step will be out baying for blood come Sunday.

The masters of the cobbles, the odds are stacked firmly in Boonen and Quick Step’s favour. The Belgian has won the race three times – consecutively for the last two years – and has the opportunity to equal the great Roger de Vlaeminck as a four-time winner.

Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has also directed no less than ten Paris-Roubaix winners from behind the wheel since the late Franco Ballerini won in 1995.

Quick Step will not have the race sewn up, however. Their tactical weakness showed in Flanders as the team overestimated the strength of Boonen and was left to his own devices with the team refusing to bridge riders to the break.

The beauty of Paris-Roubaix lies in its unpredictability. Threats to Boonen’s supremacy will come from every direction. Cancellara, of course, is an obvious candidate as the winner in Flanders and a former Roubaix winner to boot, he is currently in top shape.

The likes of Thor Hushovd, Juan Antonio Flecha, Philippe Gilbert and Filippo Pozzato will all be on Boonen’s radar on the 259km slog to Roubaix.

27 cobbled sectors, totalling some 52km of pavé, separates the hopefuls for glory in the Roubaix velodrome. For others, the names will be enough to make their legs tremble. The infamous Trouée d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and the Carrefour de l’Arbre all feature highly as potential race-defining moments.

As if to make the race that bit more capricious, the weather can wreak havoc on the pavé. The race is hard enough as it is, but throw in some rain, making the cobbles treacherously slippery, and the race begins to really live up to its moniker of the ‘Hell of the North’.

Paris-Roubaix 2010: Route
The riders face 259km of racing, starting in Compiegne to the north-east of the French capital, and running north to Roubaix. What makes the race special are the cobbled sections of the route that present the riders with an obstacle as tough as any climb. There are 27 cobbled sectors in all, starting with Troisvilles à Inchy after 97.5km of racing. The race finishes in the legendary Roubaix velodrome.

Cobbled sectors
Sector/Point in race/Name/Length of sector
Start: 0km, Compiegne
27, 97.5km, Troisvilles à Inchy, 2.2km
26, 104km, Viesly à Quiévy, 1.8km
25, 106.5km, Quiévy à Saint-Python, 3.7km
24, 115.5km, Saint-Python, 1.5km
23, 119km, Vertain à Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon, 2.3km
22, 126km, Capelle-sur-Écaillon – Le-Buat, 1.7km
21, 138km, Verchain-Maugré à Quérénaing, 1.6km
20, 141km, Quérénaing à Maing, 2.5km
19, 144km, Maing à Monchaux-sur-Écaillon, 1.6km
18, 155.5km, Haveluy à Wallers, 2.5km
17, 164km, Trouée d’Arenberg, 2.4km
16, 176km, Hornaing à Wandignies-Hamage, 3.7km
15, 183.5km, Warlaing à Brillon, 2.4km
14, 187km, Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières, 2.4km
13, 193.5km, Beuvry-la-forêt à Orchies, 1.4km
12, 198.5km, Orchies, 1.7km
11, 204.5km, Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée, 2.6km
10, 210km, Mons-en-Pévèle, 3km
9, 216km, Mérignies à Le Prez, 0.7km
8, 219.5km, Pont-Thibaut à Ennevelin, 1.4km
7, 225km, Templeuve – L’Épinette, 0.2km
7, 225.5km, Templeuve – Moulin-de-Vertain, 0.5km
6, 232km, Cysoing à Bourghelles, 1.3km
6, 234.5km, Bourghelles à Wannehain, 1.1km
5, 239km, Camphin-en-Pévèle, 1.8km
4, 241.5km, Carrefour de l’Arbre, 2.1km
3, 244km, Gruson, 1.1km
2, 250.5km, Willems à Hem, 1.4km
1, 257.5km, Roubaix, 0.3km
Finish: 259km, Roubaix velodrome


Paris-Roubaix 2010 map

Click on the map to enlarge in new window. Map: ASO

Paris-Roubaix 2010: Teams
Acqua & Sapone
Ag2r-La Mondiale
Androni Giocattoli
BBox-Bouygues Telecom
BMC Racing Team
Caisse d’Epargne
Cervelo Test Team
Cofidis
Euskaltel-Euskadi
Francaise des Jeux
Garmin-Transitions
HTC-Columbia
Katusha
Lampre-Farnese
Liquigas-Doimo
Milram
Omega Pharma-Lotto
Quick Step
Rabobank
RadioShack
Saur-Sojasun
Saxo Bank
Skil-Shimano
Team Sky
Vacansoleil

Paris-Roubaix 2010: British riders
Final start list to be confirmed
Roger Hammond (Cervelo)
Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo)
David Millar (Garmin-Transitions)
Ian Stannard (Team Sky)
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
Adam Blythe (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
Related link: British riders line up for Paris-Roubaix

Paris-Roubaix 2010: TV guide
British Eurosport – available on cable and satellite systems
Sun April 11, 1.30-4.15pm, Paris-Roubaix live, British Eurosport
Sun April 11, 7.30-8.30pm, Paris-Roubaix highlights, British Eurosport
(Sun April 11, 8.30-9pm, Tour DoonHame highlights, British Eurosport)
Sun April 11, 11.45pm-12.45am, Paris-Roubaix highlights, British Eurosport

Paris-Roubaix: Recent winners
2009 Tom Boonen (Belgium) Quick Step
2008 Tom Boonen (Belgium) Quick Step
2007 Stuart O’Grady (Australia) CSC
2006 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) CSC
2005 Tom Boonen (Belgium) Quick Step
2004 Magnus Backstedt (Sweden) Alessio-Bianchi
2003 Peter Van Petegem (Belgium) Lotto-Domo
2002 Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Domo-Farm Frites
2001 Servais Knaven (Holland) Domo-Farm Frites
2000 Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Mapei-Quick Step
1999 Andrea Tafi (Italy) Mapei-Quick Step

Tom Boonen wins his third Paris Roubaix

Triple Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Boonen in 2009

Paris-Roubaix: Last year’s top ten (2009)
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 6-15-53
2. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha at 0-47
3. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo Test Team
4. Leif Hoste (Bel) Silence-Lotto both at 1-17
5. Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence-Lotto at 1-22
6. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank at 2-14
7. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo Test Team at 3-13
8. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step at 3-15
9. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas at 5-00
10. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank at 5-29
British riders:
15. Roger Hammond (GBR) Cervélo Test Team at 6-15
19. Jeremy Hunt (GBR) Cervélo Test Team
25. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Garmin both at 6-32

Paris-Roubaix: Best British results
Barry Hoban and Roger Hammond are the only British riders to make the podium at Paris-Roubaix.

Arthur Linton was fourth in the very first edition in 1896. Hoban was 2-13 behind winner Roger De Vlaeminck in 1972. Hammond contested the sprint at the finish in 2004 and was edged out by Magnus Backstedt and Tristan Hoffman. Here are the Brits who have made the top 20.

3rd
Barry Hoban 1972
Roger Hammond 2004

4th
Arthur Linton 1896

5th
Sean Yates 1994

6th
Tom Simpson 1965

7th
Roger Hammond 2007

8th
Tom Simpson 1963
Sean Yates 1993

9th
Tom Simpson 1960

10th
Tom Simpson 1964
Barry Hoban 1969

12th
Max Sciandri 2001

13th
Michael Wright 1969

15th
Paul Sherwen 1983
Roger Hammond 2009

16th
Barry Hoban 1968
Barry Hoban 1971
Max Sciandri 2002

17th
Roger Hammond 2003

18th
Max Sciandri 1999

20th
Jeremy Hunt 2005

Related links
Millar ready to confront the Hell of the North
Pressure is on Cancellara for Paris-Roubaix, says Boonen
Thomas recalls 2004 win ahead of pro debut in Paris-Roubaix
Ballan suspended by team, out of Roubaix
Flecha for Paris-Roubaix: ‘I am still strong’
Five British riders line up for Paris-Roubaix
Boasson Hagen out of Paris-Rouabix
Boonen aims to equal de Vlaeminck’s Roubaix record
Cycle Sport’s Classic Race: 1990 Paris-Roubaix
Spring Classics 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
2009: Boonen wins Paris-Roubaix for third time