Wout van Aert on his Paris-Roubaix 2021 recon
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Where: France
When: Sunday, October 3, 2021
Rank: UCI WorldTour
Distance: 257km

We can finally say that Paris-Roubaix is almost here - here is everything you need to know about the brutal one-day Classic.

One of the most anticipated races on the calendar, fans of the sport have waited over two years for the next edition of the 'Hell of the North' after is was cancelled in 2020 and rescheduled this year.

The race usually takes place in April and brings the cobbled Classics to an end in the northern part of Europe but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the race had to be postponed in 2021 after the virus forced the cancellation in 2020. 

The race was moved to Sunday, October 3 with the first ever women's race taking place the day before the men with a possible first wet Paris-Roubaix since 2002 on the cards.

Coming just a week after the Worlds Championships, held on the cobbles of Flanders there should be plenty of in-form one-day specialists.

The now two-time world champion, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) will not be battling for victory on the brutal cobbled farm tracks to Roubaix, some of his biggest rivals will be with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) making his debut with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) returning to the race.

This year’s men’s race stretches over 257km from Compiègne, just outside Paris, to the iconic Roubaix velodrome on the Belgian border. 

The route features 29 cobbled sectors, including some of the most famous names in cycling like the Forest of Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle, and Carrefour de l’Arbre. 

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

Another detail of Roubaix that cycling fans are watching closely is the weather forecast.

We haven’t seen a wet edition of the race since 2002, but could an October event finally be the time we see the return of the slick cobbles, the mud-caked faces and the brutal racing that follows downpours in northern France? 

The sectors of cobbles are all rated between one to five stars with five being the hardest. They also receive a colour from blue to black. There are three five star black sectors along the route, mostly in the final third of the race.

First on the black list is the Arenburg Trench in the Forest of Arenburg at 94km to go. This long straight stretch is crowded by trees and, at this time of year, is rather overgrown so could add further issues. This is often where the first major sort out is.

With 47km to go, the next five star moment with Mons-en-Pévèlè taking the stage. This has seen some of the most famous solo attacks in the race such as Fabian Cancellara in 2010. However, the section with 15km to go, Carrefour de l’Arbre is the decider on who will fight it out for the cobblestone trophy.

The finish is unique too with the riders coming onto Roubaix's outdoor velodrome to do a lap and a half to the line, with a reduced sprint often the final decider in front of the huge crowds in the stands. The race has not started in the French capital of Paris for some time, but rather a few miles outside in the town of Compiègne.

This year's race also is a nice precursor to the Track World Championships as they take place in Roubaix's indoor velodrome for the 100th anniversary edition of the championships. 

Paris-Roubaix pavé sectors

29: Troisvilles to Inchy (km 97.5 — 0.9 km) **
28: Briastre to Viesly (km 108.5 — 3 km) ****
27: Viesly to Quiévy (km 101.5 — 1.8 km) ***
26: Quiévy to Saint-Python (km 116 - 3.7 km) ****
25: Saint-Python (km 118.5 — 1.5 km) **
24: Vertain to Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon (km 127.5 — 2.3 km) ***
23: Verchain-Maugré to Quérénaing (km 136.5 — 1.6 km) ***
22: Quérénaing to Maing (km 140.5 — 2.5 km) ***
21: Maing to Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 142.5 — 1.6 km) ***
20: Haveluy to Wallers (km 156.5 — 2.5 km) ****
19: Trouée d'Arenberg (km 164.5 — 2.3 km) *****
18: Wallers to Hélesmes (km 170 - 1.6 km) ***
17: Hornaing to Wandignies (km 179 - 3.7 km) ****
16: Warlaing to Brillon (km 185 - 2.4 km) ***
15: Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières (km 188.5 — 2.4 km) ****
14: Beuvry to Orchies (km 194 — 1.4 km) ***
13: Orchies (km 199 — 1.7 km) ***
12: Auchy to Bersée (km 206.5 — 2.7 km) ****
11: Mons-en-Pévèle (km 212 - 3 km) *****
10: Mérignies to Avelin (km 215.5 - 0.7 km) **
9: Pont-Thibault to Ennevelin (km 220 - 1.4 km) ***
8: Templeuve — Moulin-de-Vertain (km 225 - 0.5 km) **
7: Cysoing to Bourghelles (km 232 - 1.3 km) ***
6: Bourghelles to Wannehain (km 234.5 - 1.1 km) ***
5: Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 239.5 - 1.8 km) ****
4: Carrefour de l'Arbre (km 242.5 - 2.1 km) *****
3: Gruson (km 244 — 1.1 km) **
2: Willems to Hem (km 251 — 1.4 km) ***
1: Roubaix (km 256 — 0.3 km) *

Paris-Roubaix: Recent winners

2021: Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
2020: No race due to Covid-19
2019: Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
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 - Quick-Step
2013: Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Team RadioShack
2012: Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega-Pharma - Quick-Step
2011: Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Cervélo
2010: Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Team Saxo Bank
2009: Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step
2008: Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step
2007: Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC

Key info: Start list 

Previous editions:  2019 | 20182017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

External links: Official website | Official Twitter feed