This year’s race is expected to be dry and fast, with little rain falling in Northern France in recent weeks. Sun is forecast for Sunday with temperatures of 20C and only a modest northern breeze.
A new colour-coding system has also been created to highlight the difficulty of the 29 sectors of pave. The hardest and longest sectors – that are traditionally given five stars, are also highlighted in black. Lesser sectors are coloured red, orange, blue and yellow, with coloured signage making it easy to identify the sectors.
“In twelve years of recognition of the course, I had never seen the paving stones as clean. It’s going to be fast, especially as the weather forecasts for Sunday are good,” race director Christian Prudhomme told French media after enjoying breakfast in a cafe near Troisvilles before studying the key sectors of pave and inking a new agreement with local authorities to help fund the protection the pave tracks.
“We’re expecting a ‘grosse bagarre’ Sagan and Van Avermaet will be looking for revenge and it’ll be Tom Boonen’s last race. Stopping his career after Paris-Roubaix is the most beautiful tribute he could have made to the race.”
Prudhomme confirmed that Boonen – a four time winner of Paris-Roubaix – will be feted at the team presentation on Saturday afternoon, with a special tribute during the race at Vertain wind mill. Each blade of the windmill will recall each of Boonen’s victories. Boonen could become the only rider with win Paris-Roubaix five times if he ends his career on a high.
The route of Paris-Roubaix changes every year as sectors of pave are restored and repaired by the Les Amis du Paris-Roubaix association and local technical college students.
Two new sector between Viesly and Briastre has been added after a 30-year absence. They come after 110km of racing. The three-kilometre sector is largely downhill but is not expected to split the peloton.
“We added 3.8 km of cobblestones at the beginning of the race and we removed 1.5km a little farther on,” the technical director for ASO Thierry Gouvenou explained.
“It’s important not to make things too hard. If it is dry then things are fine but it is wet then it’s a long, hard day.”