The weather forecast may be for sunny and dry weather at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, but that is unlikely to sort out the wet and muddy state that some of the cobblestone sectors are already in.
Photos posted on social media by Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix, a volunteer organisation which takes responsibility for maintaining the sections of pavé that are central to the race’s character, show some of the early sections of cobbles being covered in mud and water.
The conditions appear to be particularly tricky on the Haveluy sector, which is rated as a four-star sector by race organisers and will be hit by the riders just prior to the 100km to go mark on Sunday.
By the looks of some of the photos posted on Twitter, the crest of the road looks largely dry, but with the side of the road and the gutter being covered in water and mud. However one part of the sector appears particularly bad, being almost entirely covered in mud, with the volunteers confirming that the sector would not be cleaned ahead of the race.
The sector following Haveluy is the infamous Trouée d’Arenberg, a 2.4km dead-straight sector that has been given its usual five-star difficulty by race organisers and features some of the fiercest cobblestones on the course.
However as if the sector wasn’t tricky enough, the cobbles look likely to be wet and muddy on Sunday, creating a slick surface that could create the potential for crashes particularly at the start of the sector which the riders often hit at more than 60kmh.
There has also been rain at the finish in Roubaix, with race organisers posting a photo of the wet velodrome on Wednesday, but with the sun at least shining above the concrete track.
Famous images of Paris-Roubaix often features mud-covered riders struggling through wet conditions. However the last wet edition of the race was way back in 2002, although the peloton did face the pavé in the rain during the 2014 Tour de France.