One of Paris-Roubaix's cobbled sectors may be removed because it's covered in mud

Start time of Paris-Roubaix also changed to avoid riders being stopped at level crossings like in 2015

The peloton at Troisville in the 2008 Paris-Roubaix (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

Sunday's Paris-Roubaix may be reduced to 26 cobbled sectors because the pavé at Troisville is almost completely covered in mud.

Organisers say they will decide closer to the time whether or not the three-star sector will be included in the race, but if removed the total length of the cobbles will be reduced to 50.5km.

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While muddy cobbles aren't necessarily a death knell for a sector, route director Thierry Gouvenou says the fact that riders will switch from wet and dry areas means it becomes more dangerous.

“We’ll wait a few days before taking a definitive decision," Gouvenou said according to AFP. "If we had to race today we’d have to avoid that section. But there is still time, and experience shows that you have to be patient.”

“The problem is the switch between wet and dry areas, which is very dangerous. The riders pick up speed on the dry patches and can get caught out when they come to wet ones."

Gouvenou also revealed that the race will start later than normal in order to avoid a situation like in 2015 when riders were forced to stop at a level crossing for a train to pass.

Several riders skipped the crossing barrier before the train arrived, forcing the UCI to amend its rules to prohibit such an act in future.

"When we had confirmation of train schedule for Sunday in places used by the race, we decided to make some changes," Gouvenou is quoted as saying in L'Equipe.

"We were scheduled for departure at 10:20, while now we should leave at 10:40. All that remains re-adjusted depending on weather conditions. If the weather is bad the race will start at 10:30 and if it's nice it will start at 10:50.

"All of this will be definitively decided by Saturday at 17.30 at the end of the team managers' meeting."

Paris-Roubaix will be shown live in its entirety on Eurosport this Sunday, with coverage kicking off at 09.15 and culminating at 16.00.

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.