Repair of Paris-Roubaix cobbled lanes by Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix

Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix. The heritage guardians of the Hell of the North.

Last weekend, cycling-loving Flanders celebrated its High Mass with the Ronde. For cobblestone lovers, however, there is still plenty to savour. On Saturday 8 April the 3rd edition of Paris-Roubaix for women is scheduled, one day later the men will ride the Hell's classic for the 120th (!) time. We went to Le Nord - just before the cycling madness broke out in Flanders - to meet Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix. This volunteer organisation is dedicated to maintaining the northern French cobbled lanes and preserving the history of Paris-Roubaix.

Heritage guardians

Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix (°1977) call themselves heritage guardians of cycling. Their main task? Besides watching over the good name of this race, it is also to maintain, preserve and make accessible the most important cobbled strips from Paris-Roubaix.

Lycée Horticole

President François Doulcier doesn't only rely on a group of volunteers for maintenance, but also works with the teachers and students of the Lycée Horticole de Lomme. The pupils do so in rotation, a different group every day, in all weathers. They take care of the reconstruction of some 150 metres of pavé every year.

Water seepage

During their maintenance work, pupils fix the cobblestones in a 20-30 centimetre layer of pebbles. The method is ecological (only natural materials are used) and allows water seepage so that the surrounding fields are not eroded away.

Vélodrome André Pétrieux

After a Hell ride over the cobbled lanes of northern France, heaven beckons on the Roubaix track - officially the 'vélodrome André Pétrieux'. Whoever crosses the finish line first is guaranteed a place in cycling history. Winners receive a plaque of honour in the legendary showers.


Nearby, Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix also manage a museum about Paris-Roubaix. You will find a row of unique jerseys and bicycles. One of the showpieces is the bike on which Pino Cerami won Paris-Roubaix in 1960.

Cobblestone trophy

It also features the cobblestone trophy from this year's edition. Until it is handed to the winner on the podium. Les Amis prides itself on handing over a trophy to winners from the past, when the cobblestone trophy did not exist.

Vélodrome Jean Stablinski

Since 2012, a covered track can be found near the old open track as well. This bears the name 'vélodrome Jean Stablinski', referring to the Franco-Polish rider who proposed adding the Forest of Wallers-Arenberg to the course. As an ex-miner, Stablinski knew this road all too well. The little square in front of the velodrome also bears his name.

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