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Road Racing

Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Roubaix Femmes see different cobbles and longer women’s race for 2023

Haspres sector returns to 'Hell of the North' after nearly 20 year absence, Femmes parcours extended 20km to 145km.

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“Hell” will look a tiny bit different for the men’s and women’s peloton this spring.

Paris-Roubaix is set to feature the return of the historic Haspres cobblestone sector to the “Hell of the North” for the first time since 2004, while Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift sees its parcours extended out to 145km for its third edition.

Race organizers confirmed late this week the 120th running of Paris-Roubaix on April 9 will stretch 257km and include some 55km of gnarled pavé over 29 sectors.

Dylan van Baarle will almost definitely return to defend his title with his new Jumbo-Visma team, and this year, he’s got a very handy co-captain in Wout van Aert.

The women’s pack will pummel 29km of ancient stones across 17 sectors on April 8. Elisa Longo Borghini is slated to return to the race she won last year and is already in winning form after conquering the first UAE Tour this month.

Men’s and women’s racing starts out of regular host towns Compiègne and Denain respectively. The full menus of cobblestone sectors are yet to be confirmed.

Race officials ASO did however state this week the traditional Troisvilles gateway at around 100km opens up the stoney assault for the men. The make-or-break “five-star” sectors the Trouée d’Arenberg (km 161.3), Mons-enPévèle (km 208) and Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 239.5) all return.

Tweaks to the Paris-Roubaix Femmes course significantly extends racing for the women.

The additional 20km comes before the cobblestones arrive, with two loops of a windswept stretch ahead of the opening Hornaing sector offering opportunity for racing to blow up early. The “queenmaker” Mons-enPévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre sectors again feature in the final of the Femmes, though no mention was made of the Arenberg making its debut. 

The upping in distance sees Paris-Roubaix Femmes continue to evolve from its inaugural 116km distance, though now at 145km for 2023, it still remains some way short of its cobblestone sister, the 159km Tour of Flanders.

The return of the Haspres sector for the first time since Magnus Bäckstedt won in 2004 looks likely to impact only the men’s race.

The stretch of “not very well paved” stones – per routemaster Thierry Gouvenou’s descriptor – will hit the peloton in the daunting final few kilometers before the Arenberg, a point ahead of where the Paris-Roubaix Femmes parcours pulls onto the men’s route.

They’re coming …

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