COMPIEGNE, France (VN) — Cycling’s most spectacular and brutal one-day race clicks into gear Sunday. Paris-Roubaix has been called many things: the “Hell of the North,” the “Queen of the Classics,” and the “Longest Sunday.” No matter its moniker, Paris-Roubaix is a spectacle unequaled on the cycling calendar. Its winners become idols, yet even the last-place rider has an heroic tale to tell by the end of the day. Any race is a tale of the tape. Here is Paris-Roubaix, by the numbers:
1 – Smallest winning margin, in centimeters, or about 0.39 inch, when Eddy Planckaert beat Steve Bauer in 1990. How close was it? Finish-line officials had to study the photo for more than 10 minutes before declaring the winner.
3 – Number of sectors from Sunday’s race that will be featured in stage 4 of the 2015 Tour de France. The Quiévy, Saint-Python, and Verchain-Maugré sectors (numbered 25, 24, and 22, respectively, in decreasing number as the race runs from start to finish) will be part of this summer’s race.
4 — Most wins: Roger De Vlaeminck (1972, ’74-’75, ’77) and Tom Boonen (2005, ’08-09, ’12).
5:21 — Largest winning margin, in minutes, when Eddy Merckx beat De Vlaeminck in 1970.
7 — Number of Roubaix titles won during past 10 years between Boonen (4) and Fabian Cancellara (3). The other winners in the past decade were Stuart O’Grady (2007), Johan Van Summeren (2011), and Niki Terpstra (2014).
9 — Best career finish by Bradley Wiggins (Sky), in 2014, his seventh Roubaix appearance. Sunday will be the 2012 Tour de France winner’s final major race.
10 — Number of riders to pull off the Flanders-Roubaix double on 12 occasions (Boonen and Cancellara have each done it twice). Curiously enough, it’s one of the few milestones that Eddy Merckx was unable to achieve during his career. Boonen did it in 2005 and 2012, while Cancellara was a double-winner in 2010 and 2013. Roger De Vlaeminck pulled it off in 1977, and no one could repeat the double until Peter van Petegem in 2003.
12 — Slowest Roubaix, 12 hours and 15 minutes, when Henri Pélissier won in 1919 on roads destroyed by World War I.
16 — Most races completed: Raymond Impanis (1947-63), Servais Knaven (1995-2010).
25 — Number of teams.
27 – The number of sectors of cobbles, which are numbered in reverse order, meaning the first cobbles the peloton hits at Troisvilles are number 27.
38 — Oldest winner, Gilbert Duclos-Lassale in 1993.
45.129 — Fastest average speed, in 1964: Peter Post, on a slightly different course.
52.7 – Total kilometers of cobbles.
55 — Wins by country, with Belgium leading the way. France is second with 30. Riders from 11 nations have won Roubaix, an elite club if there was one. No North American has ever won Paris-Roubaix, though Bauer was second in 1990 and George Hincapie was second to Boonen in 2005.
113 – This year will be the 113th edition. The race debuted in 1896, with Josef Fischer of Germany winning. The race was disrupted by World War I, from 1915-18, and again by World War II, from 1940-42.
158 – Kilometer marker of the Trouée d’Arenberg, one of three five-star-rated cobble sectors. Added in 1968 at the recommendation of Jean Stablinski, who once toiled in the nearby coal mine. Nearly 100km from the finish, the 2,400-meter-long sector typically sees the first major selection of the race, and has since become a symbol of Paris-Roubaix.
200 — Number of expected starters.
222 — Longest winning breakaway in kilometers. Dirk Demol, now a sport director at Trek Factory Racing, won in 1988.
253.5 — Total number of kilometers in this year’s race. Despite its name, since 1968, the flag has dropped in Compiègne, about 80km north of Paris.
2100 – Total distance in meters of the decisive Carrefour de l’Arbre cobbles at about 20km to go. Winning attacks are often played out over the rough, uneven, often wind-blasted sector, the last major cobbles of the race.