Paris-Roubaix organiser ASO is calling on the Tour de France favourites to ride the Hell of the North this spring.
The 2015 edition on April 12 will cover 52.7 kilometres of cobbles between Compiègne and Roubaix’s velodrome, including the three sectors that ASO has planned for the Tour’s fourth stage.
The 27 different sectors include the famous Trouée d’Arenberg and Carrefour de l’Arbre sectors, but also three that the Tour de France will feature on July 7.
The fourth stage covers 13.3 kilometres of cobbles, seven sectors, in the 221 kilometres from Seraing to Cambrai. Tour cyclists and fans will have a preview of three sectors – Quiévy, Saint-Python and Verchain-Maugré – in Paris-Roubaix, albeit in the opposite direction.
“As everybody saw, Le Tour title holder Vincenzo Nibali stole a march on his competitors thanks to his robustness and agility over the kilometres of cobbles preceding the finish in Arenberg last summer,” read an ASO press release today.
“A similar scenario is by no means beyond the realms of possibility in Cambrai on July 7. The most watchful competitors will seize the opportunity to carry out reconnoitring in racing conditions on the three sections that the Tour de France will share with Paris-Roubaix.”
The three Tour de France sectors of Paris-Roubaix:
Quiévy (after 107.5 km – 3,700 m)
Saint-Python (after 112.5 km – 1,500 m)
Verchain-Maugré (after 130 km – 1,600 m)
ASO’s decision could persuade some Tour de France favourites to race its ‘Hell of the North’ classic. However, most lightweight contenders will likely participate in the Ardennes Classics the following week and leave their domestiques to scout the cobbles in race conditions.
In 2014, the favourites visited the cobbled sectors that ASO featured in stage five at various times in the spring and summer leading up to the Tour.
Astana’s Nibali, racing in the race leader’s yellow jersey, took control of the overall classification on the wet and muddy cobbles on July 9. Lars Boom (Belkin) won the stage, but the Sicilian gained 2.35 minutes on Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 3.27 on eventual Tour runner up, Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale).
As ASO said, “a similar scenario is by no means beyond the realms of possibility,” which could convince some Tour favourites or their helpers to schedule in Paris-Roubaix when they otherwise would not.
Former Tour de France winner, Team Sky’s Sir Bradley Wiggins will race, but he is no longer focusing on Grand Tours. If he wins, he would be the first Tour champion to do the double since Bernard Hinault in 1981.
The Grand Tour stars usually leave the cobbled classic to their beefier team-mates. Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and 2014 winner Niki Terpstra (Etixx) have dominated in recent years.
The 2015 route will differ slightly from 2014, but tracks the same course as 2013.
“The changes concern the section around Valenciennes, located at the half-way distance of the race and more particularly just after the thrills of the day’s first cobbles, situated as always, at Troisvilles (after 97.5 km),” the ASO continued.
The Trouée d’Arenberg features after 158 kilometres, Mons-en-Pévèle 205 kilometres and the Carrefour de l’Arbre 236.5 kilometres.