Can Mathieu van der Poel defend his title at Paris-Roubaix?

Here's your guide to the 'Hell of the North', with start lists, key information, sectors, and riders to watch

Mathieu van der Poel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not since 2010 has the same rider won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Back then, that rider was Fabian Cancellara. This year, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) will head into the 'Hell of the North' as the outstanding favourite, as defending champion, and off the back of an incredible ride at Flanders.

Major illness and injury issues across Visma-Lease A Bike's men's team put in doubt the big showdown between Wout van Aert and Van der Poel that most fans expected at this year's Roubaix.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 


Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.


A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.


With contributions from