Where: France
When: Sunday, April 7 2018
Rank: UCI WorldTour

There’s no other race quite like Paris-Roubaix in professional cycling and the 2018 edition takes place on Sunday April 7.

There are plenty of other long classics that exceed 250km, plenty of other big races held in France, and plenty of other races that feature cobblestones, but none are as difficult nor unique in character as the so-called ‘Queen of the Classics’

For one thing, the cobblestones here are on another level of difficulty to those found in the Flandrian classics like the Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem. The most difficult sectors are very unevenly paved, and take real skill, power and a heavy dose of fortune to negotiate.

There are also an awful lot of them. In total there are 29 sectors of pavé, amounting to around 55km – roughly a fifth of the entire race. That far exceeds the ratio of any cobbled classic held in Flanders, and makes Paris-Roubaix something of a test of endurance, with riders generally reaching the finish in dribs and drabs.

The race can be even more gruelling if the weather turns foul. Epic editions involving slippery cobbles and mud-caked jerseys have gone down in folklore and helped earn the race its nickname of ‘Hell of the North’.

>>> 12 pictures that show just how tough the Paris-Roubaix cobbles are

Each sector of cobblestones is rated between one star (the most straightforward) and five stars (the most difficult), and it’s on the three five star stretches that regularly sees the most spectacular racing.

Paris-Roubaix route map

First is the Arenberg Forest at 94km, a long stretch of road rendered dark by the overstretching trees either side of the road, where the race’s first major sort-out usually takes place. Then at 47km to go is the Mons-en-Pevele, which, if a rider is on the form of their life, can provide the launchpad for a race-winning attack (as Fabian Cancellara managed in 2010 and 2012 respectively). But more often than not it’s the Carrefour de l’Arbre at 15km to go that has the final say.

Even the finish of the race is unusual and iconic. When finally arriving in Roubaix (these days the race might start in Compiegne rather than Paris, but the finish has always been in Roubaix), the riders head to the town’s velodrome to complete one and a half laps laps of the track, in front of a cheering crowd. Whether the arena plays host to a sprint between a leading group or a lap of honour for a sole leader, it’s invariably a perfect spectacle to end a perfect race.

Paris Roubaix 2018 teams

Seven guest teams have been selected to ride alongside the eighteen UCI WorldTour teams – you can read confirmed names on the Paris-Roubaix start list here.

BMC Racing (USA)
Mitchelton-Scott (Aus)
Quick-Step Floors (Bel)
Team Sky (GBr)
EF Education First-Drapac (USA)
Dimension Data (RSA)
Lotto-Soudal (Bel)
Trek-Segafredo (USA)
Bora-Hansgrohe (Ger)
LootoNL-Jumbo (Ned)
Movistar (Esp)
FDJ (Fra)
Ag2r La Mondiale (Fra)
Team Sunweb (Ger)
Katusha-Alpecin (Sui)
Astana (Kaz)
Bahrain-Merida (Brn)
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
Direct Energie (Fra)

Guest teams:

Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (FRA)
Delko Marseille Provence KTM (FRA)
Direct Energie (FRA)
Team Fortuneo – Samsic (FRA)
Veranda’s Willems – Crelan (BEL)
Vital Concept Cycling Club (FRA)
WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic (BEL)

Previous editions of Paris-Roubaix

In 2017, the victory went to Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing). Daniel Oss (BMC) had gone for a 40km break, but with 25km to go he was caught by a group of six, containing Van Avermaet.

Three of the six were dropped, leaving the Belgium rider to enter the Roubaic velodrome with Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac) and Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors).

Sybar sprinted against Van Avermaet, but had to settle for second, with Langeveld taking third.

In 2016, Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) became only the second Australian to win Paris-Roubaix, edging out four-time winner Tom Boonen in a chaotic edition of the race.

The 37-year-old, starting his 16th Paris-Roubaix, made his way into the day’s breakaway and clung on to Boonen’s group after it swept them up in the final 100km.

Leading into the Roubaix velodrome, Hayman and Boonen fought it out for the line, with the Australian coming out on top. Team Sky‘s Ian Stannard finished third, equalling the best British performance in race history.

Paris-Roubaix: Recent winners

2017: Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
2016: Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2015: John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
2014: Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx-QuickStep
2013: Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack
2012: Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
2011: Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Cervelo
2010: Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank
2009: Tom Boonen (Bel) QuickStep
2008: Tom Boonen (Bel) QuickStep
2007: Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC

Paris-Roubaix 2017 top 10

1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, in 5-41-07
2. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
3. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky, at same time
6. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ, at 12 secs
7. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
8. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
10. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo, at same time

Key info: Start list | Live TV guide

Key riders: Peter Sagan | Alexander Kristoff | Luke Rowe | Ian Stannard | Tom Boonen

Previous editions: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

External links: Official website | Official twitter feed

After saying farewell at this year's edition of Paris-Roubaix, we take a look at Tommeke's illustrious career through photos

The toughest cobblestones in cycling Although often cited as the climax of the springtime cobbled Classics, it doesn’t really ring true to label Paris-Roubaix as the end or beginning of…

There's no excuse for missing 2017 Paris-Roubaix on Sunday - it's live on Eurosport from start to finish for over six hours