Of All the European Cycling Events that we cycling enthusiasts try to explain to the uninitiated, perhaps Paris-Roubaix presents the biggest conundrum. How can you make sense of bouncing expensive bicycles across ancient, cobbled, brutal roads for hours on end? Muddy if it is wet, dusty if it is dry…the riders say Roubaix presents a “special brand of torture” but then in the next breath they say how they would love to win it and how much passion they have for the history of the event. Somehow the suffering, the chaos, the potential for disaster all mesh perfectly with the rhythmic cycles of smooth roads and selective pave, the rugged beauty, and the immense challenge to make this April Classic one of Cycling
most unique and very special events. This month
what else could we focus on, but…
"Paris-Roubaix…The Hell of the North”
Q1. Especially if you followed cycling on the meager CBS Sports TV coverage in the 1980s you will remember this quote from a rider who had been in a racelong breakaway only to be dropped and cruelly drop out of the event:
“It’s a pile of s@#t, it’s just a whole pile of s@#t. You are riding in mud up to here and you are wet and miserable. It is just a pile of s@#t!” So, the commentator asks “will you ever race here again?” “But of course” the rider responds “It is the most beautiful race in the world!” Right there this man captured the very essence of this beloved, loathed, and feared event. The year was 1985, but can you remember the rider?
Q2. In modern cycling, riders fall into two very separate camps: Stage Racers and Classics Rider with minimal or no overlap during the Spring Classics such as Paris-Roubaix. In the history of the sport this is a relatively new phenomenon. Who was the last rider to win both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France in the same year? And in what year?
Q3. Who is the ONLY RIDER to win Paris-Roubaix on his first attempt (in his second year as a Professional)? HINT: It was NOT Eddy Merckx!!!
A1. Dutchman Theo de Rooy of the Panasonic-Raliegh team, who went on to work for many years as a sports director for the Dutch Rabobank squad.
A2. Frenchman Bernard Hinault in 1981.
A3. Italian Felice Gimondi in 1966.