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On Saturday, October 2, the first-ever Paris-Roubaix Femmes will take on 17 cobbled sectors over 29.2 kilometers. The following day, the men’s Paris-Roubaix will surge over 30 sectors of pavé totaling 55 kilometers. Both races will travel the same, final 85 kilometers.
While the weather forecast for the weekend is for wet roads, also of concern are the condition of the cobbles — and what has been growing between the bread-box-size stones since spring 2019.
After a review of the routes on Tuesday, September 28th, Paris-Roubaix race director Thierry Gouvenou, and race director of Paris-Roubaix Femmes Franck Perque assigned a five-point relative difficulty rating for each of the cobbled sectors based on the condition and “irregularity” of the route surface.
The sectors which stand out are the Trouée d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle, and the Carrefour de l’Arbre, all of which earned a five-star difficulty rating according to Gouvenou and Perque.
Reports indicate maintenance was conducted on the route to remove grass, weeds, and vegetation overgrowth in several sectors — which sprouted and has been growing for more than two years since the last edition of the “Hell of the North” — and the Arenberg trench had to be thoroughly cleaned last week to ensure no growth would endanger riders.
“It seems to me to be correct, there are no rutting problems,” said Gouvenou after Tuesday’s reconnaissance. “The Arenberg gap needed a big cleanup,” he added. He also indicated that more weeding work needs to be done, notably near the Arbre crossroads.
While the race organization, ASO, can weed the route, there are no guarantees about keeping it dry.
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