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TEMPLEUVE, France (AFP) — Paris-Roubaix organizers admitted on Monday they were worried they may have to change Sunday’s race course due to mud on the cobbles.
The ‘Hell of the North’ is the third of the year’s ‘monument’ one-day classics and one of the most prestigious races on cycling’s calendar. World champion Peter Sagan will enter the ‘Queen of the Classics’ as hot favorite after winning Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
But the 114th edition of Paris-Roubaix may not follow the exact advertised route as some of the 27 cobbled sectors are currently considered too dangerous to ride.
“The route is wet and muddy. We had some surprises, especially on the first [cobbled] sector in Troisvilles due to a large covering of mud,” said race director Thierry Gouvenou after Monday’s reconnaissance of the route with journalists.
“We’ll wait a few days before taking a definitive decision. If we had to race today [Monday] we’d have to avoid that section. But there is still time, and experience shows that you have to be patient.”
This year’s Paris-Roubaix race will be 257.5km long, starting in Compiegne, just outside Paris, before finishing at the old velodrome in Roubaix. The 27 cobbled sectors encompass 52.8km of the dreaded paves.
“The problem is the switch between wet and dry areas, which is very dangerous. The riders pick up speed on the dry patches and can get caught out when they come to wet ones,” added Gouvenou.
As well as Tinkoff’s Sagan, three-time former winners Fabian Cancellara (Trek – Segafredo) and Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step) will be expected to shine, but last year’s champion John Degenkolb misses out due to injury as he continues to recover from a crash with a car in February.