Ode to Roger
Thanks to his nickname Monsieur Paris-Roubaix, Roger De Vlaeminck will forever remain linked with this race, even though his list of honours is much more extensive than the Hell's Classic alone. De Vlaeminck was certainly on his bike during this race.
Sports photographer Maurice Terryn managed to capture Roger on film several times. An ode to the craftsmen Roger and Maurice.
A match made in heaven
Paris-Roubaix will undoubtedly have a special place in Tom Boonen's extensive palmares. Even in his youth Boonen has distinguished himself on this course. After a place of honour in the Under-23 category, Boonen immediately took third place as a neo pro. On the podium in 2002 winner Johan Museeuw called him his successor.
What's more, with four wins Boonen did even better than Museeuw. As a pro, he also finished second twice and third once. Talk about a race to match! In 2017, in his very last participation - on this bike - he finished in 13th place.
Women at the start
2 October 2021. A historic day in the cycling world. Because then Paris-Roubaix Femmes will be held for the very first time. The race was originally planned for October 2020 - corona caused a serious redrawing of the cycling calendar. But again due to corona this had to be abandoned. Only one year later, the very first edition could really take place.
British Lizzie Deignan proved to be the strongest and won after a solo race of more than 80 kilometres. Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky had also set her sights on this race. Due to some bad luck she had to make do with 15th place. These back numbers were used by Elizabeth Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini of the TREK-Segafredo team.
No fourth victory for Museeuw
In 2004, Johan Museeuw makes an ultimate bid for a fourth victory in Paris-Roubaix. For the occasion, he rides a personalised bike and helmet; until about eight kilometres from the finish, victory still seems in sight. However, a flat tyre throws a spanner in the works.
Upon arrival, Lion Museeuw threw his lion-headed crash helmet to the ground, disappointed, and broke it. Cycling fan Helmut Lotti, who followed the race in the team car, reluctantly asked for the helmet and was eventually given it.
On the eve of WW I
In 1914 Paris-Roubaix was in its 19th edition. The Frenchman Marius Auriaux is one of them. Only 90 riders reach the finish. Auriaux crossed the finish line in 58th place. The wide frame and the extra long wheelbase and wooden rims should provide the necessary comfort.
After this edition, won by Charles Crupelandt, the First World War brings a four-year break. A number of participants in the 1914 edition also lost their lives. Three-time winner Octave Lapize was also one of the many war victims.
28 March 2016 is a black page in the history of cycling. That day, West Flanders cyclist Daan Myngheer dies after a heart attack during the International Road Criterium in France. Myngheer was just under 23 years old.
As a tribute to Daan, a lot of riders start two weeks later in Paris-Roubaix with the inscription #RideForDaan. That slogan can also be seen on this bike from Jasper Stuyven, which he used in the Hell's Classic.
The double of Georges Claes
There are many Belgians on the list of honour of Paris-Roubaix. After Gaston Rebry triumphed two years in a row in 1934 and 1935, Georges Claes is the second Belgian who manages this double.
After finishing sixth in 1944, he took the victory in Northern France in both 1946 and 1947. His son Georges junior once said that his father still had to track down Paris himself and select a hotel on the spot ...
As a lasting memento of that double victory, Claes senior opened a café in Boutersem, his hometown, that bore the name Paris-Roubaix. This iconic café was sold in 2021.
Two winners in one year
During the 1949 Paris-Roubaix, André Mahé, Jseus Moujica and Frans Leenen were sent the wrong way by a policeman, but managed to stay in front with the Martin who had joined them. André Mahé wins the race, but like his fellow escapees he is disqualified for not following the route. And he rode some extra kilometres just like Moujica and Leenen!
After a protest, the jury decided that the fifth, Serse Coppi, would win ex aequo with Mahé. Serse owes his inclusion as a co-winner especially to the months of pressure exerted by his brother Fausto.
Gone with the wind
Until the mid-1960s, the list of winners in Paris-Roubaix was mainly made up of Frenchmen, Belgians and the occasional Italian. In 1964, Peter Post wins for the first time for a Dutchman. Thanks to a strong tailwind, Post also sets a speed record. He wins with an average speed of 45.129 km/hour, a record that will remain until 2017. Although the course of 1964 cannot be compared with that of '17 - the number of cobbled kilometres was a lot less then.
A one-two punch between the Pélissier brothers
In 1921 Henri and Francis play a leading role in Paris-Roubaix. The main event was the hill in the northern French town of Doullens. There the two oldest Pélissiers go for it. A select group of other riders manages to catch up with them. But Henri can get rid of his companions and arrives solo at the velodrome of Roubaix. A little later Francis crossed the finish line as second. The original trophy, from Noël Grégoire's collection, which Henri received after his victory can be found in the cup. The plaque on the marble base reminds us of the podiums won by the brothers.
Monument Michael Golaerts
We are approaching the French village of Viesly. On the nearby Secteur pavé de Viesly à Briastre, 23-year-old Michael Goolaerts fell after suffering a cardiac arrest on Sunday 8 April 2018. A few hours later, he would die. The cobblestone strip in the northern French town of Biastre where the unfortunate rider fell is now called Secteur pavé Michael Goolaerts. Fans decided to also erect a memorial in his honor. Michael Goolaerts was part of the Belgian team Veranda's Willems - Crelan. One of his colleagues at the time was Wout Van Aert.
Monsieur Paris-Roubaix I
Even before Roger De Vlaeminck could call himself Monsieur Paris-Roubaix, Gaston Rebry could claim that title. Rebry was the first Belgian ever to win the Hell of the North three times: in 1931, 1934 and 1935.
Alcyon provides Rebry's 1934 bicycle with a special frame. At the bottom of the seat tube there is a tap with which Rebry can fill his chain with fresh oil. This is an advantage in dry and dusty racing conditions.
In 2010 Rebry was awarded the honorary citizenship in the municipality of Ledegem. A year later a book about his life and career was presented, written by two Rebry family members among others. And in Wevelgem, you can still ride the Gaston Rebry mountain bike route today.
Mountain goat also wins on the rocks
Whoever says Sylvère Maes, immediately thinks of his two final victories in the Tour de France (1936, 1939). Paris-Roubaix in 1933 was his first major victory. He fought the entire race at the front with fellow escapees Julien Vervaecke, Thalinger and Antonin Magne. After a 160 kilometre breakaway, only Vervaecke and Maes remained at the finish. Maes won the sprint with three lengths of lead.
In 1948, he stopped racing and became, among other things, a café owner. He named his café Au Paris Roubaix, like Gaston Rebry did, but Café Tourmalet, a reference to the infamous and famous Pyrenees col where he once hit gensters.
The sorrow of Belgium
In 2016, Tom Boonen wants to write history: a fifth victory in Paris-Roubaix would make him the only record holder of the Hell Classic. But in the final hundreds of metres, things go wrong. Australian Matthew Hayman is faster than Boonen and snatches his fifth and unique cobbled trophy at the last minute.
The Belgian commentator duo Michel Wuyts and Karl Vannieuwkerke sound very disappointed.
While their French counterparts praise Hayman's outstanding performance...
A Sunday in Hell
The documentary A Sunday in Hell, by Danish film-maker Jorgen Leth, is perhaps one of the most beautifully portrayed odes to the bicycle and the race. Using various camera angles, Leth shows the course of Paris-Roubaix 1976, from the preparation to after the finish. In the images, Roger De Vlaeminck and Francesco Moser, among others, glide over the cobblestones. In the end, Marc Demeyer from West Flanders wins
The road to victory is paved with the right encouragement
Roger Rosiers has built up an extensive record of achievements. But his most important victory was possibly Paris-Roubaix 1971. During the race he was confronted with several obstacles. With the encouragement of his team leader, he finally went solo and finished 1min26sec before the second (Herman Van Springel).
Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix
Paris-Roubaix is synonymous with cobblestones. In the mid-sixties and seventies, the authentic cobbled strips in northern France are threatened by a wave of asphalting. In order to save the remaining cobbled sections, Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix was founded in 1977.
Les Amis have two goals: ensuring the survival of the cobblestones and promoting the image of the race. To this end, they undertake various actions:
More than half of the budget of Les Amis goes to maintenance, because a lack of it is more threatening to the stones today than the chance of tarmac.
The hattrick of the Emperor
Until today, with Tom Boonen and Roger De Vlaeminck, only two riders have triumphed four times in Roubaix. With 7 winners, the list of triple winners is already longer. After Gaston Rebry, Rik Van Looy is the second Belgian who succeeded in doing so. In 1961 he won for the first time, one year later he repeated this performance.
In 1962 Van Looy wins on this bike which KOERS was able to buy from a private collector a few years ago. After 1962 Van Looy won for the third time in 1965.
In 1958 Leon Vandaele achieved the greatest victory of his career: Paris-Roubaix. On the Roubaix track he beat the fastest riders of the peloton: Miguel Poblet, Rik Van Looy and Rik Van Steenbergen.
Vandaele made good use of his experience as a pistol. This victory increased the tensions with his team mate/head man Rik Van Looy. The following season he left the Faema team and signed with the newly founded Flandria team of the Claeys brothers from Zedelgem.
Roubaix in the Tour
Roubaix is more than just the arrival town of a notorious cobbled classic. The northern French town is also a regular fixture in the Tour de France. According to the French specialist website Le Dico du Tour, since 1947 Roubaix has been the finish of 20 Tour stages and 23 times the village du départ.
The tragic end of Lucien Storme
In the peloton Lucien Storme, born in 1916 and thus a child of the war, was a tough customer, with more speed in the sprint than Gaston Rebry, the former Paris-Roubaix winner with whom he trained. After a year of military service, he rode a very strong Helle Classique in 1938: after a failed attempt in Carvin, he managed to escape at seventeen kilometres from the finish with Louis Hardiquest, a compatriot from Hoegaarden. Even a puncture at eight kilometres from the end could not stop him.
He got another wheel, rejoined his breakaway companion and beat him by thirty metres. Storme was still 22 years old. During the Second World War, Storme was arrested as a smuggler and imprisoned in a German jail. During the liberation he was accidentally shot dead by American soldiers. A few decades later he gets a memorial plaque in his native village Nieuwkerken.
Pavé Bernard Hinault
The Haveluy cobbled section is named after Bernard Hinault, winner of the 1981 edition. Bernard Hinault thought Paris-Roubaix unworthy of a cycling race because of the high risk of mechanical failure and crashes. However, as reigning world champion in 1981 he wanted to silence the critics by proving that he could overcome the cobbles. After that, he would never ride the Hell of the North again.
Jean Stablinski and Arenberg
In the sixties, the search for remaining cobbled roads in the north of France was intensified in order to save the image of Paris-Roubaix. In this context, Jean Stablinski (world champion in 1962) proposed in 1968 to include the Wallers-Arenberg Forest in the Paris-Roubaix race route. He knew this road from when he had worked in the coal mine. The forest has a terrible reputation among the riders because of the many crashes (e.g. in 1998 Johan Museeuw broke his kneecap there).
The Resurrection of Museeuw
Museeuw has a long and tough rehabilitation ahead of him. He celebrates his comeback at Dwars door België 1999. In 2000 he wins Paris-Roubaix again, something he does again on this bike in 2002. Talk about revenge!
Pont Gibus is the name of a cobbled section from Paris-Roubaix, just after the passage through the Wallers-Arenberg forest. "Gibus" refers to the French cyclist Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, who got this nickname because he once posed in the Tour de France with a "gibus", a kind of tube hat. His supporters painted "Pont Gibus" on an old railway bridge halfway down the aforementioned cobbled road. Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle won the classic twice in the twilight of his career: in 1992 and 1993.
Pavé John Degenkolb
Since 2020, the Hornaing "strip", the longest cobbled section of Paris-Roubaix (3 700 m), has been named after German rider John Degenkolb. Degenkolb won the infernal classic in 2015 and also won the cobbled stage of the 2018 Tour de France. It is the 1st time that a cobbled section is named after a still active rider. He received this tribute because of his efforts to save the junior version of Paris-Roubaix from (financial) ruin.
Terpstra triumphs in Hell
2014 is without a doubt the top year for Niki Terpstra. The Dutchman started his season with a stage win and overall victory in the Tour of Qatar and also won in Dwars door Vlaanderen. He also won Dwars door Vlaanderen and finished sixth in the Tour of Flanders. He triumphed again in Paris-Roubaix.
At less than ten kilometres from the finish he was part of a small breakaway group, together with two other teammates. At six kilometres from the end the Dutchman tries his luck. He succeeded and arrived solo on the track in Roubaix.
Iconic. There is no other way to describe the arrival of Paris-Roubaix 1996. At 80 kilometres from the finish Mapei teammates Johan Museeuw, Gianluca Bortolami and Andrea Tafi accelerated. A fourth teammate, Franco Ballerini, had to let go of the group due to a flat tyre. The trio held on and headed for a very nice team performance. A better realisation of the team motto Vincere Insieme (conquer together) is not possible. The team decides that Museeuw will be the first to push his wheel across the finish line in Roubaix. As a result, when Museeuw has a puncture about 10km from the finish, his teammates have to wait for him. Unseen scenes in the final of a classic race!
Pavé Marc Madiot
The cobbled section from Beuvry-la-Forêt to Orchies is named after Marc Madiot, two-time winner of "La Reine des Classiques" (1985 and 1991). Everybody knows Marc Madiot today as the somewhat extravagant sports director of La Française des Jeux.
Pascal Sergent, house historian of Paris-Roubaix
That a race like Paris-Roubaix appeals to the imagination is obvious. The typical course, the history and the heroism are food for many publications. Pascal Sergent, a roubaix rider, made this race his favourite subject of study. Besides a series of books about Paris-Roubaix, he also has a very nice collection of objects that are linked to this race.
He owns a jersey in which Franco Ballerini won one of his two victories, the jersey in which Andreï Tchmil won, bicycles linked to this race, and so on. During the weekend of 2 and 3 April, Sergent exhibited another selection of his collection at an exhibition in the northern French village of Toufflers, on the French-Belgian border.
The race that changed his life
"Winning in Roubaix changed my life completely. Winning or coming second, that makes a huge difference. There is only one place that counts. I am the best example of that. I never talk about it - people shouldn't know I won Paris-Roubaix - but if I hadn't won, I would have been one of many riders. And now people still talk to me about it," says Dirk Demol
The victory of Dirk Demol in 1988 still haunts him - in a positive sense - to this day. Demol was recorded as a servant, but he surpassed that status for one day in April 1988. After his victory the West-Fleming is welcomed as a folk hero in his municipality Bavikhove.
Coupe du Monde
In 1989 the cycling federation UCI introduces the Coupe du Monde, a distant successor of the Trofee Desgrange-Colombo. With the Coupe du Monde, the most important one-day races are bundled into a regularity classification. The French water brand Perrier is the main sponsor.
In 1989, the leader of the classification wears a distinctive shirt. The Frenchman Laurent Fignon is the very first leader. His victory in the Tour of Flanders that year put Edwig Van Hooydonck in the lead. With this shirt, Van Hooydonck is at the start of Paris-Roubaix. Years later, Edwig donates this shirt to the Walloon collector Noël Grégoire, who houses it in KOERS.
Sean King Kelly
In the 1980s, international cycling is coloured by stars such as Bernard Hinault and Sean Kelly. The Irishman Kelly is able to excel in just about all fields. Mans list of honours can certainly be called exceptional. In total, King Kelly triumphed ten times in a classic race. He never won the Tour of Flanders, but he did win Paris-Roubaix. He was the best in Paris-Roubaix twice: in 1984 and 1986.
Armed for Hell
To make the agony on the cobbles as comfortable as possible, the team bikes are being pimped. Team leader Boonen and shadow cyclist Devolder get a special Eddy Merckx bike built for Paris-Roubaix with a longer frame, in order to increase stability.
Boonen himself has pieces of a garden hose fitted under his handlebar ribbon, to better absorb shocks.
An extra piece of metal is attached to the outer blade of his bike - which has a frame plate with the number 1 - to make sure the chain doesn't jump off the sprocket. The other teammates have to make do with their regular racing bikes.
All bikes will have 25 mm tubes - wider than the regular versions - with a pressure between 5.5 bar and 6 bar, a lot lower (and thus more comfortable on cobblestones) than usual.
Finish... in front of the buildings of La Redoute
After a heroic victory in the Tour of Flanders in 1985, Eric Vanderaerden added a second classic to his list of victories in 1987. That year, the Limburger is the best in Paris-Roubaix. After more than seven hours of racing, he wins ahead of fellow countrymen Patrick Versluys, Rudy Dhaenens and Jean-Philippe Vandenbrande. However, Vanderaerden did not win at the Velodrome, but - exceptionally - in front of the factory buildings of sponsor La Redoute.
Frédéric Guesdon, currently sports director at Groupama-FDJ, is the last French winner of Paris-Roubaix. In 1997 he won the sprint of the breakaway with Jo Planckaert and Johan Museeuw on the Roubaix circuit, to his own great surprise. Since the end of March this year the cobbled section between Bourghelles and Wannehain has been named after him.
Carrefour de L'arbre
The Carrefour de l'Arbre (freely translated as "the crossroads of the tree") has often been the decisive point in the Paris-Roubaix race. This tough cobbled section (2.1 km long) was thought up with the highest rating of five stars and is only 16 km from the finish in Roubaix. Along this stretch is the famous café-restaurant L'Auberge de l'Arbre.
Monument of Hennie Kuiper at Hem
Everyone remembers the photo of Hennie Kuiper impatiently waiting for the follow car after the tube came off his rim on the cobbled road in Hem. This did not stop him from winning the 1983 edition of Paris-Roubaix. Twenty years later, Hennie Kuiper's victory was honoured with a bronze monument at the scene. After it was stolen in 2013, it was replaced by an aluminium sculpture a few kilometres away, in a more protected location.
Espace Charles Crupelandt
The Espace Charles Crupelandt is the name of the last cobbled section before entering the Roubaix track. This smooth cobbled section was built in 1996 on the occasion of the centenary of the Hell's Day race. Between the cobblestones there are tiles with the names of all the winners of this cycling monument. The strip is named after the French cyclist Charles Crupelandt, from Roubaix, who won the 1912 and 1914 editions.
Vélodrome André Pétrieux
The Roubaix track, also called the Vélodrome André Pétrieux (André Pétrieux was a sports official of the city of Roubaix), was built in 1936 and served as the finish of the Hell's Highway from 1943 on. Exceptions to this tradition were the editions from 1986 to 1988 (e.g. this was the case with the victory of Dirk Demol in 1988). Next to the Vélodrome André Pétrieux is, since 2012, the indoor cycling track "Le Stab", named after the former French cyclist Jean Stablinski.