A mini Hell of the North
The last time there were cobbles to tackle at the Tour, in 2018, there were many sectors, but they were quite short. This time the plan was to make them longer because the cumulative distance is less important than the length of each sector. As such, this year’s stage most resembles the course used in 2014.
That’s the year when wet, windy weather forced the organizers to eliminate two of the more technical sectors; when defending champion Chris Froome crashed out of the race; and when Vincenzo Nibali engineered the winning breakaway with two others to cement his early GC lead.
Even without bad weather, the race will almost certainly split apart over the 11 cobbled sections on this year’s menu. That’s because four of the last five sectors appear regularly in Paris–Roubaix, including the three longest (all 2.4 kilometers), inside the final 30 kilometers. The last sector, via the infamous Pont Gibus, ends just 5.1 kilometers from the finish in Arenberg—the same finish as eight years ago, when Lars Boom won solo from breakaway companions Jakob Fuglsang and Nibali.
With five former Paris–Roubaix champions in the field, along with such classics stars as Kasper Asgreen (Quick-Step), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), we can expect a spectacular and destructive day in this mini Hell of the North.