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MECHELEN, Belgium (VN) — No one in today’s peloton has ever raced on the fearsome cobbles of Paris-Roubaix in wet and muddy conditions.
That could change this weekend, with forecasters calling for rain ahead of Saturday’s inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes and again on Sunday for the rescheduled men’s Paris-Roubaix.
According to Météo France, the official national meteorological service, rain showers and gusting winds are expected overnight Friday in the region around Roubaix, meaning the peloton will wake up to wet and sloppy conditions for what will be an historic first race across the fearsome cobblestones in women’s racing history.
Also read: Route confirmed for Paris-Roubaix Femmes
Forecasters expect partly sunny skies in the morning with building clouds Saturday, with more showers possible into late afternoon and evening. Gusting winds up to 15 to 25kph from the west and southwest are predicted throughout the afternoon Saturday, meaning crosswinds and tailwinds on many of the key sectors of pavé.
Also read: Five incredible editions of Paris-Roubaix
Showers are expected to continue overnight Saturday and continuing into Sunday morning. Gusting winds from 20 to 30kph from the west and southwest are expected throughout the afternoon Sunday, with partly clearing skies as the afternoon unfolds.
Temperatures are expected to be cool, in the mid- to low-50s, ideal for racing on such a demanding course.
— Mr Blue (cycletips 123) (@cycletips123) September 27, 2021
As of Tuesday morning, Météo France rated the accuracy of the forecast of 3 out of 5, suggesting that at least some rain and wind is expected throughout the weekend across northern France.
Weather forecasts, particularly in northern France in October, can change quickly, so stay tuned.
Though the history of Paris-Roubaix is marked by editions of the race with horrendous weather conditions, the last truly wet and muddy edition of the race was in 2002.
Johan Museeuw won that edition in 2002 what would be his final of three victories across the pavé. Dutch rider Servais Knaven won an even wetter and muddier edition in 2001, and he never washed the mud off his bike, which is carefully guarded at his home.
The women’s peloton will make an historic first charge across the pavé Saturday, and if forecasters are correct about wet and wind, it could make for an epic inaugural to what’s sure to be an annual highlight on the calendar.
The men’s race Sunday could also be contested in equally challenging conditions, a first for an entire generation of racers.