Greg Van Avermaet during the 2017 edition of Paris-Roubaix (Credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Where: France
When: Sunday, April 14 2019
Rank: UCI WorldTour

Paris-Roubaix is a unique display of power and skill like no other in professional cycling and the 2019 edition took place on Sunday April 14.

>>> Full report from the 2018 Paris-Roubaix here

Whilst many of the major Classics now host women’s events either on the same day, or that weekend, Paris-Roubaix is yet to join in.

There are plenty of other long Classics that exceed 250km, plenty of other big races held in France, and plenty of other races that feature cobblestones, but none are as difficult nor unique in character as the so-called ‘Queen of the Classics.’

For one thing, the cobblestones here are on another level of difficulty to those found in the Flandrian classics like the Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem. The most difficult sectors are very unevenly paved, and take real skill, power and a heavy dose of fortune to negotiate.

There are also an awful lot of them. In total there are 29 sectors of pavé, amounting to 54.5km – roughly a fifth of the entire race. That far exceeds the ratio of any cobbled classic held in Flanders, and makes Paris-Roubaix something of a test of endurance, with riders generally reaching the finish in dribs and drabs.

The race can be even more gruelling if the weather turns foul. Epic editions involving slippery cobbles and mud-caked jerseys have gone down in folklore and helped earn the race its nickname of ‘Hell of the North’.

>>> 12 pictures that show just how tough the Paris-Roubaix cobbles are

Each sector of cobblestones is rated between one star (the most straightforward) and five stars (the most difficult), and it’s on the three five star stretches that regularly sees the most spectacular racing.

First is the Arenberg Forest at 94km, a long stretch of road rendered dark by the overstretching trees either side of the road, where the race’s first major sort-out usually takes place.

Then at 47km to go is the Mons-en-Pevele, which, if a rider is on the form of their life, can provide the launchpad for a race-winning attack (as Fabian Cancellara managed in 2010 and 2012 respectively). But more often than not it’s the Carrefour de l’Arbre at 15km to go that has the final say.

Even the finish of the race is unusual and iconic. When finally arriving in Roubaix (these days the race might start in Compiegne rather than Paris, but the finish has always been in Roubaix), the riders head to the town’s velodrome to complete one and a half laps laps of the track, in front of a cheering crowd.

Whether the arena plays host to a sprint between a leading group or a lap of honour for a sole leader, it’s invariably a perfect spectacle to end a perfect race.

Paris-Roubaix 2018 results

The 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix was won by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), who sprinted against Swiss national champion Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale) to take the win.

Peter Sagan after winning 2018 Paris-Roubaix. Image: Sunada

Sagan attacked from the main bunch with 54km remaining, joining a small break group that had gone clear with just 40km covered.

Within that group was Dillier, who transpired to be the only member able to stay with Sagan once he reached them.

The pair worked together, holding off a chase group that contained Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors). Entering the velodrome, Sagan stuck close to the wheel of Dillier, before sprinting past him to take the win.

Full report from the 2018 Paris-Roubaix here

Paris-Roubaix: Recent winners

2018: Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
2017: Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
2016: Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2015: John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
2014: Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx-QuickStep
2013: Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack
2012: Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
2011: Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Cervelo
2010: Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank
2009: Tom Boonen (Bel) QuickStep
2008: Tom Boonen (Bel) QuickStep
2007: Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC

Key info: Start list | Live TV guide

Key riders: Peter Sagan | Alexander Kristoff | Greg Van Avermaet | Ian Stannard | John Degenkolb

Previous editions:  20182017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

External links: Official website | Official Twitter feed

Catch up with highlights of the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix, with the peloton taking on 54.5km of cobbles on the way to the famous Roubaix velodrome.

Peter Sagan took victory in the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix, out-sprinting the surprise package of Silvan Dillier on the velodrome in Roubaix.