A Guide to the 2018 Paris-Roubaix

It’s time for the biggest single-day race of them all! Paris-Roubaix, also known as  “The Hell of the North,”  a  257km slog across the unforgiving farm roads of northern France. This Sunday will mark the 116th edition of the Paris-Roubaix, here’s what you need to know before riders hit the cobbles.

It’s Flat

Paris-Roubaix is the flattest of the five Monuments (Milan-San Remo, the  Tour of Flanders,  Liège-Bastogne-Liège  and  Il Lombardia), flat is actually an understatement. Compared to most of the spring classics the Paris-Roubaix is pancake flat but don’t mistake this race for being easy. The difficulty here isn’t climbing, it’s surviving the incredibly rough sections of cobblestone road that stretch throughout the route and I don’t use the word survive lightly.

The 2018 Paris-Roubaix covers a total of 257km, among which are 29 cobblestone sectors comprising a total of 54.5km of “pave”. The cobblestone sectors are numbered and race organiser ASO has given each sector  a difficulty rating  from one to five stars, listed here:

Paris-Roubaix 2018 cobbles

Name No. Distance Remaining Length Difficulty Rating
Troisvilles 29 163.5km 2.2km ***
Briastre 28 157km 3km ***
Saint-Python 27 148km 1.5km ***
Quiévy 26 145.5km 3.7km ****
Saint-Vaast 25 138km 1.5km ***
Verchain-Maugré 24 127km 1.2km **
Quérénaing 23 122.5km 1.6km ***
Maing 22 119.5km 2.5km ***
Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon 21 116.5km 1.6km ***
Haveluy 20 103.5km 2.5km ****
Trouée d’Arenberg 19 95km 2.4km *****
Hélesmes 18 89km 1.6km ***
Wandignies 17 82.5km 3.7km ****
Brillon 16 75km 2.4km ***
Sars-et-Rosières 15 71.5km 2.4km ****
Beuvry-la-Forêt 14 68km 1.4km ***
Orchies 13 60km 1.7km ***
Bersée 12 54km 2.7km ****
Mons-en-Pévèle 11 48.5km 3km *****
Avelin 10 42.5km 0.7km **
Ennevelin 9 39km 1.4km ***
Templeuve – L’Epinette 8 33.5km 0.2km *
Templeuve – Moulin-de-Vertain 8 33km 0.5km **
Cysoing 7 26.5km 1.3km ***
Bourghelles 6 24km 1.1km ***
Camphin-en-Pévèle 5 19.5km 1.8km ****
Carrefour de l’Arbre 4 17km 2.1km *****
Gruson 3 14.5km 1.1km **
Hem 2 8km 1.4km ***
Roubaix 1 1km 0.3km *

The Three Five Star Cobblestone Sectors

The Trouee d’Arenberg (#19): The most famous section of cobblestones in the world. The Arenberg forest isn’t where the race will be won, but it is where the race can be lost.

Here’s what  Theo de Rooij had to say about the sector in 1985 after abandoning Paris-Roubaix:

“It’s b******s this race! You’re working like an animal, you don’t have time to piss, you wet your pants. You’re riding in mud like this, you’re slipping around, it’s a piece of s**t €¦”

Mons-en-Pevele (#11):  A tough section of cobble that also most likely won’t be where the race is won, but often is where the peloton gets broken up.   Watch for attacks to split the field here.

Carrefour de l’Arbre (#4): The final five-star sector and the ideal launch-pad for a race winning move. Just look at this disaster of a road:

Why You Have to Watch Paris-Roubaix

Paris-Roubaix is a unique bike race as a spectator as it’s exciting from start to finish. It’s chaotic and delivers incredible moments year after year. Positioning is of utmost importance heading into every cobblestone sector and the cobblestone sections themselves make for incredible viewing. There are countless crashes and constant mechanical issues that can change the entire race in an instant:

Parix-Roubaix is also unique in that it’s a race suited to the workhorses of the peloton, heavier guys that put out massive power, guys usually tasked with blocking wind for GC contenders take the reigns. It’s also a race of survival, as such it’s almost always won by a very small group or a solo rider.

Where to Watch Paris-Roubaix

Livestreaming will be available via the NBC Sport Gold app starting at 3:55am ET.