The queen has proved herself a formidable opponent for 115 years. Once again in 2018, competitors will need to summon all their passion, commitment and will to win to conquer her. The 257-kilometre course, including 54.5 kilometres over the iconic cobblestones, lie between the start in Compiègne and the legendary velodrome in Roubaix, between no man’s land and cycle racing heaven. Trouée d’Arenberg (km 162), Mons-en-Pévèle (km 208.5) and Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 240): many riders can name the 29 legendary cobblestone sections in their sleep. The ‘pavés’, to give them their French name, make Paris–Roubaix the ‘queen of the classics’ and one of the five ‘Monuments’ of cycle racing.
True cycle racers will be needed when the race gets under way on 8 April: tenacity, sacrifice and a strong mind will be required for anyone wishing to match the achievements of previous winners like Fausto Coppi, Louison Bobet, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, and raise aloft the winner’s trophy – fittingly, a huge cobblestone.
Who will succeed in leaving their mark on Paris–Roubaix this year? This will not only be decided by the ability of the riders, their equipment and the weather – chance and luck will also have a part to play. Time and again, the forest of Arenberg sees mass collisions, which split the peloton into numerous small groups. And anyone not finding themselves in the leading pack at this stage has little chance of victory.
“We are doing everything we can as a team to compete as successfully and safely as we can in Paris–Roubaix”, explains Freiburg’s Jasha Sütterlin, 25, who has been riding with the Spanish team since 2014.
Always at the team’s side and at the head of the pack when it comes to safety: the company ABUS, from Wetter/Ruhr, has been the team’s helmet sponsor since 2017.
With its high-end aero helmet, ‘GameChanger’, the company provides the pros with maximum safety while ensuring maximum aerodynamics. A combination that fellow Movistar pro Nuno Bico, 23 and from Portugal, also values:
“In a race like Paris–Roubaix, you need to be able to rely on your equipment. In ABUS, I know that we have a strong partner by our side, and one that will do everything to ensure that we can concentrate on doing a good job.”