PAVÉ! Need I say more? This is the most talked about stage since the Tour route was announced last October. Nine cobbled sectors taking the riders over 15.4km of brutal pavé. It’s going to be rough, it’s going to be chaotic. Buckle up and hold onto your hats, people.
Wednesday 9th July – Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, flat, 155.5km
This route has all the hallmarks of a classic – the Queen of the spring classics, in fact – as the peloton negotiates a mini Paris-Roubaix, after a start in Ypres, one of the most famous battlegrounds of World War I which broke out 100 years ago this year.
Not one of the nine cobbled sectors can be termed easy, but look out for fireworks on Carrefour de l’Arbre (sector nine), Mons-en-Pevele (sector seven), and the long 3.7km stretch at Wandignies-Hamage a Hornaing (sector two).
GC contenders will hope to get through unscathed and without losing too much time. They may have been on training rides over the rough terrain, but nothing will prepare them for the chaos of a peloton riding full gas on these narrow roads – or for the arrival of rain, as has been forecast. The help of experienced classics teammates to keep them in position will be crucial.
With seven of the this year’s Paris-Roubaix top ten in the peloton, there will be no shortage of potential stage winners. While some may have duties towards their team leader, expect to see Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) leading the charge for the line. However, my pick for the win has to be Fabian Cancellara (Trek), and he might just claim yellow as well.
Link: Official website
Header: Roubaix cobbles