The Paris-Roubaix, contrary to its name, starts in Compiegne which is about 80km north of Paris and winds its way north toward the Belgian border over 257-kilometers of riding. There aren’t really any notable climbs to point out, the difficulty here lies instead in getting over the rough, cobblestone farm roads.
For 2019, there are a total of 29 ‘pave’ sectors. The first cobbles come after 96.5km of racing. From there on out there’s a cobblestone sector every few kilometers until the finish. The ceremonial final sector in the town of Roubaix leads into the finishing laps at the most famous velodrome in the world.
The Cobble Sectors
For the 2019 edition, there are a total of 54.5km of cobblestones spread over 29 sectors. No cobblestone sector is easy, but some are considerably rougher than others. Cobble sectors are given a start rating (one to five stars) depending on their difficulty. There are three five-star sectors on the course, and like a high-category climb, they can be race deciders:
#19: Trouee d’Arenberg (2.3km) – This is the 11th sector of the day. The Trench of Arenberg is the most famous cobblestone road in cycling. Riders will battle for position entering the sector and the ride through is always pure chaos. The Arenberg forest tests not only a riders grit, but their equipment too.
#11: Mons-en-Pevele (3km) – The 19th sector of the day comes with just 48km to go, the perfect place for an attack.
#4: Carrefour de l’Arbre (2.1km)- At just 16km from the Carrefour to the velodrome this sector might just be the place for a late, race-winning attack.
Paris-Roubaix pavé sectors
29: Troisvilles to Inchy (km 97.5 — 0.9 km) **
28: Briastre to Viesly (km 108.5 — 3 km) ****
27: Viesly to Quiévy (km 101.5 — 1.8 km) ***
26: Quiévy to Saint-Python (km 116 – 3.7 km) ****
25: Saint-Python (km 118.5 — 1.5 km) **
24: Vertain to Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon (km 127.5 — 2.3 km) ***
23: Verchain-Maugré to Quérénaing (km 136.5 — 1.6 km) ***
22: Quérénaing to Maing (km 140.5 — 2.5 km) ***
21: Maing to Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 142.5 — 1.6 km) ***
20: Haveluy to Wallers (km 156.5 — 2.5 km) ****
19: Trouée d’Arenberg (km 164.5 — 2.3 km) *****
18: Wallers to Hélesmes (km 170 – 1.6 km) ***
17: Hornaing to Wandignies (km 179 – 3.7 km) ****
16: Warlaing to Brillon (km 185 – 2.4 km) ***
15: Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières (km 188.5 — 2.4 km) ****
14: Beuvry to Orchies (km 194 — 1.4 km) ***
13: Orchies (km 199 — 1.7 km) ***
12: Auchy to Bersée (km 206.5 — 2.7 km) ****
11: Mons-en-Pévèle (km 212 – 3 km) *****
10: Mérignies to Avelin (km 215.5 – 0.7 km) **
9: Pont-Thibault to Ennevelin (km 220 – 1.4 km) ***
8: Templeuve — L’Épinette (km 224 – 0.2 km) *
8: Templeuve — Moulin-de-Vertain (km 225 – 0.5 km) **
7: Cysoing to Bourghelles (km 232 – 1.3 km) ***
6: Bourghelles to Wannehain (km 234.5 – 1.1 km) ***
5: Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 239.5 – 1.8 km) ****
4: Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 242.5 – 2.1 km) *****
3: Gruson (km 244 — 1.1 km) **
2: Willems to Hem (km 251 — 1.4 km) ***
1: Roubaix (km 256 — 0.3 km) *
How the Race Will Unfold
Let’s start with some history, of the last 10 editions of the Paris-Roubaix:
- One win from a group of six
- One win from a group of five
- One win from a group of four
- Two wins from a group of two
- Five solo wins
Paris-Roubaix is a true race of attrition. Bikes break, equipment breaks, men break. You won’t see a bunch sprint at the velodrome, only the strongest men get to the final stretch at the front to begin with.
Paris-Roubaix suits a truly strong rider. There are no big climbs, so power-to-weight ration means little. The big men, with big watts and the ability to roll over 29 sectors without giving in will rule the day.
That said. Expect the unexpected. Crashes and mechanicals can change the outlook in an instant. And entering a sector out of position can destroy a riders chances.
At the end of the day, it’s a safe bet that a solo rider or very small group will reach the Roubaix Velodrome in front.
Riders to Watch
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) – Sagan comes in as the defending champion after his winning long-range attack in 2018, but Sagan has not shown good form. Health issues have kept him from being his best this spring. That said, his health is no longer in question and he’s had several weeks to rebuild. Maybe, just maybe Sagan shows up Sunday fresh and back in top-form.
Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep) – Deceuninck-QuickStep is the strongest team on the startlist. No question about that. Zdenek Stybar has victories at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the E3 BinckBank Classic under his belt, but he looked a little off at the Tour of Flanders. Stybar’s done Paris-Roubaix six times and finished in the top 10 on five occasions.
Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) – Van Avermaet won this race in 2017 after a dominant spring. This year he’s been far less dominant (zero wins so far) but he’s had several near misses.
Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale) – Naesen has been nothing short of incredible this spring but has yet to top a podium. Second at Milan-San Remo, third at Gent-Wevelgem, eighth at E3, and seventh at Flanders despite being sick. He’s got the form, he just needs to put everything together.
Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) – Wout Van Aert will win Roubaix at some point, whether it’s this year or not is the question. He’s a three-time cross world champion and he’s been very strong this spring.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) – Kristoff won Gent-Wevelgem and then won the bunch sprint for third at Flanders. His current form is strong, if he can get in a small group he’s got a fine chance of winning the sprint.
Taylor Phinney (EF Education First) – A bit of an outside pick, but Taylor Phinney is built for Roubaix. He secured a very impressive eighth last year, and has been clear that he wants to do better this year. Before Flanders, I wouldn’t have given him a chance, but seeing what EF did last Sunday I’m giving him a chance.
Fans love a wet Paris-Roubaix, but there hasn’t been one in nearly two decades. Cobbles are hard, wet cobbles are hell. So what’s the outlook?
Currently, the forecast for Sunday is temperatures in the 40s with a low chance of rain. The wait for rain may continue.
How to Watch the 2019 Paris-Roubaix
Here in the states, NBC Sports Gold will carry coverage of the 2019 Paris-Roubaix. For those of you in the UK and Europe, you’ll need to tune in to Eurosport.
Paris-Roubaix 2019 Odds
Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 9/2
John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo 9/1
Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 10/1
Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2r La Mondiale 11/1
Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team 12/1
Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo Visma 14/1
Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step 14/1
Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 16/1
Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Deceuninck – Quick-Step 18/1
Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal 22/1