Excitement builds as 118th Paris-Roubaix set to return this Sunday

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The Paris-Roubaix is back!

The Paris-Roubaix will be returning to the streets of France this Sunday, for its 118th Classic cycling competition. 

14/04/19  - Paris-Roubaix © ASO/ Pauline Ballet
14/04/19 – Paris-Roubaix © ASO/ Pauline Ballet

Usually a spring event, COVID-19 has forced a change in date for this year’s historic race, creating a unique environment for this year’s cyclists, including a prediction of rain- something that hasn’t been present at the Paris-Roubaix for nearly 20 years. Still, this change in circumstances has made this course no less daunting, with its over 257 kilometer cycle distance, and notoriously brutal cobblestone sectors for this years competitors to overcome. 

The race, which will see competitors travelling from Compiègne to the namesake city of  Roubaix, is not one for the faint hearted. Taking competitors average times of around six hours to complete, this commonly nicknamed ‘Hell of the North’ will see competitors travel over 30 separate cobble sectors, pushing these cyclists and their bikes to their limits. 

Race profile for 2021 Paris-Roubaix (Image credit: ASO)
Race profile for 2021 Paris-Roubaix (Image credit: ASO)

First run in 1896, this race has become one of the Classics in the cycling world, alongside other renowned courses including the Tour of Flanders and the Milan-San Remo. A historically significant, and historically challenging race, it is often only attempted by the world’s most renowned cyclists. This is true of the 2021 upcoming contest, and with the delays caused to this year’s event, these top racers will certainly be bringing their best to this Sunday’s competition. 

Phillipe Gilbert, 2019s reigning champion, will be competing in this year’s race, alongside other big name competitors such as 2018 winner Peter Sagan. Topping average speeds of 43km/h in their respective winning races, and with the weather predicted for this year’s event, this is certainly not a race to miss out on. 

Others competing in this years event include 2016 Olympic Individual Road Race Gold Medalist and 2017 Paris-Roubaix winner Greg Van Avermaet, as well a 2021 Silver Medalist Wout van Aert, who will be competing despite the technical issues and crash he suffered at the 2019 Paris-Roubaix. All of the competitors at this year’s race come highly decorated, and with the additional time between competitions allowed by COVID-19, the champion of this year’s race could be anyone’s guess. 

Not convinced? Check out this teaser from Paris-Roubaix, showing iconic shots from past races and what is to come from this year’s event. 

Women will also be joining the Paris-Roubaix.

It will not just be men competing in this year’s event, however, as on Saturday 2nd October, the Paris-Roubaix Femmes will be unveiled onto the cycling world. With the Men’s race being such a renowned Classic event, an addition of a women’s race will certainly play a major step in the elevation of women’s cycling as a whole, with this weekend’s race certain to bring new eyes onto the sport. 

Paris-Rouabix Femmes 2021 - Profile (Image credit: Paris-Roubaix Femmes / ASO)
Paris-Rouabix Femmes 2021 – Profile (Image credit: Paris-Roubaix Femmes / ASO)

The race will take place over a 115 kilometer track from Denain to Roubaix, covering 17 of the famous 30 cobblestone sectors found in the original race. Despite this reduced track length, this race is no less daunting, and for these racers, the pressure will certainly be on. Not only will these women be competing for the title of the first winner of the Paris-Roubaix Femme, but they will be seen by many as representatives of women’s cycling, and for female competitors in traditionally male sports as a whole.  

While some teams have yet to announce their cyclists for this historic race, some racers competing for the championship for the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes include Trek-Segafredo’s Lizzie Deignan, the Women’s WorldTour current leader. Others predicted to be joining the race include Grace Brown, Jess Allen, and Sarah Roy for team Mitchelton-Scott, who have first places in the Brugge-De Pan, Oceania Road Championships, and the National Road Championships, respectively. These women make up just some of the many formidable riders competing in this pioneering race, and with so many credentials amongst them, this first of it’s kind race will definitely be one worth tuning in to.

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