Paris-Roubaix sportive 2008

Now the dust has settled and the aches and pains have subsided, we’re ready to reflect on the Paris-Roubaix cyclo-sportive – an event so epic they only dare hold it every other year.

Lionel Birnie and James Shrubsall rode the 255-kilometre event, from Cambronne, while Ian Cleverly rode the 173-kilometre event, which although shorter was no soft option as it also took in all 28 sections of pavé.

Paris-Roubaix: epic, dangerous, gruelling, brutal, romantic, beautiful. The list of superlatives goes on.

The event is every bit as much a test of rider and machine as the mountainous sportives. Yes, it’s flat, but, oh those cobbles. They suck the life right out of you.

But you have to try it, even if it’s only once, because the overwhelming feeling at the end is: “How on earth do they race over that?”

Never again will we hope for rain on that early April Sunday when the professionals go through hell….

Here are our stories.

Above right The prize for reaching the velodrome. Your very own miniature Paris-Roubaix cobblestone to take pride of place, not to be used as a doorstop.

Simon Scarsbrook’s excellent artwork sums up the Paris-Roubaix sportive experience


Cycling Weekly reporter Ian Cleverly reflects on the wisdom of showing the legendary film A Sunday In Hell to a coach load of sportive riders heading to Paris-Roubaix. Rather like showing a feature-length advert for a George Foreman grill to a truck full of cattle bound for the abattoir, we’d say.

Ian Cleverly’s Paris-Roubaix sportive experience


Sub-editor for Cycling Weekly, Cycle Sport and mbr James Shrubsall takes a look at how he fuelled for a long day in the saddle. You can read his account of the ride in a future issue of Cycling Weekly

James Shrubsall’s Paris-Roubaix sportive experience


CW reporter who got back in the saddle just before Christmas and chose Paris-Roubaix as his goal. Fool.

Lionel Birnie’s Paris-Roubaix sportive experience


We canvassed the opinions of some of the CW readers who braved Hell.

The readers’ Paris-Roubaix sportive experience


The 2008 edition was the 30th Paris-Roubaix cyclo

The advertised routes were 255km, 190km and 98km – however the Garmin showed the long route came in at a ‘mere’ 244km, the intermediate was 173km. To be honest, we’re not going to obsess about how far it was. It was a long way.

Number of riders 2,512

Number of men 2,471

Number of women 41

Percentage by nationality

French 41.3%

Belgian 14.9%

Italian 11.3%

British 9.8% (249 riders)

Dutch 9.5%

Spanish 5.3%

German 3.5%

The rest 4.6%

Who did which ride

255km (start in Cambronne): 1,852

173km (start in Bohain): 351

98km (start in Wallers): 309


Patrick Trainor for being our directeur sportif for the weekend, for his cool-headed organisation and sense of humour

Phil Griffiths at Yellow for supplying the Pinarello

Francis Lajus and everyone at the Velo Club de Roubaix for organising the event

All the marshals, support staff and volunteers who made the event possible

The residents who gave a welcome clap, cheer or shout of ‘Bravo’