Everyone knows Paris-Roubaix is one of the toughest races of the season, it’s part of the hyperbole surrounding the Monument. With 29 cobbled sectors, the dust and the dirt, not to mention that to win you usually have to ride someone off your wheel on a flat parcours, it’s an impressive victory for any rider’s palmarès.
Even watching on television, you feel every crash and effort each time one of the strong men reels back in a plucky escapee dreaming of victory inside the Roubaix velodrome.
Many of us will never experience what it is like riding the cobbles inside the professional peloton, but luckily riders’ bike are often fitted with GoPros these days, so you can get the feeling of what it’s like just by watching on your phone during your morning commute.
The video, uploaded by the Paris-Roubaix organisers, already has 20,000 views and features the intimate aftermath of Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) celebrating with his team, the distraught and muddy faces of his competitors who finished second best on the day, as well as a wealth of race footage up close and personal inside the peloton.
The video shows a number of crashes, Slovenian national road race champion Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Merida), Cofidis’ Cyril Lemoine and Filippo Fortin, with Cyril Lemoine then getting a clumsy rear wheel change from a Mavic motorbike (with the video editor clearly getting bored of how long he’s taking, cutting the clip before he finishes the job).
There are plenty of wonderfully juddery shots of the riders going across the cobbles, as well as sweeping, fan-packed corners with riders escaping on to a grassy verge for a couple of seconds of sweet relief from the pavé.
A number of riders are shown recovering from their efforts after 257km of the Hell of the North, with Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Gobert) looking especially knackered, and a Jumbo-Visma staff member putting an arm round a dejected-looking Wout Van Aert.
The video closes with a panning shot of Gilbert beating Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) in the sprint finish inside the Roubaix velodrome, followed by his sport director Patrick Lefevere hugging him in the middle of a media scrum, the team celebrating Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 700th win, which has been achieved by over 100 riders.