Paris-Roubaix scrapbook: Exploding wheels, cobbled KoMs, the Van der Poel-Pogačar monument race, and more

Here's your ultimate collection of stats, stories, data, and snaps emerging from the fastest ever 'Hell of the North.'

Photo: Eurosport / GCN

Paris-Roubaix. It’s crazy on the pavement, carnage on the cobblestones, and chaos for fans trying to follow it all.

That’s why we’re bringing you a monument-size scrapbook of stats, storylines, out-takes, and snaps you might have missed Sunday from the men’s “Hell of the North”:

First, here comes a monument-size stat bomb:

Roubaix: It’s chaos. (Photo: Gruber Images / VN)
  • The 2023 Paris-Roubais was the fastest ever at 46.8kph. Which is some feat, as the previous record set in 2022 of 45.8kph was more than half a kilometer per hour faster than the mark before that, which was set in 2017.
  • Van der Poel joins Cyrille van Hauwaert, Sean Kelly and John Degenkolb as riders that won Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix in the same season.
  • Van der Poel levels Pogačar as the active riders to both have four titles across three different monuments. Teaser – read on for more on this …
  • Riders with bib number 21 have won each of the three monuments of the season – MvdP in San Remo, Pogačar at Tour of Flanders, and MvdP again Sunday.
  • Of the 175 riders that started Sunday, only 135 (77 percent) recorded a result. Three riders missed the cutoff, 37 did not finish.
    • Incredibly, the 135 rider completion rate way surpasses the 107 from last year, where swathes of riders missed the cutoff. Only 96 racers scored official results in the mud-spattered carnage of 2021.
  • Alpecin-Deceuninck, or should we say, Alpecin-Elegant, raided ASO’s coffers Sunday. Van der Poel and Philipsen’s team took €53,000 back to Belgium with them. That’s more than three times the amount Van Aert, Laporte and Co loaded into the Jumbo-Visma bus bound for the Netherlands.
  • Thought Jumbo-Visma “won the classics” this season? Maybe not. Alpecin-Decuncink ends its northern campaign with two monuments and victories from Philipsen at Scheldeprijs and Brugges-De Panne. Jumbo-Visma has five on its Flemmish win sheet, the biggest being E3 Saxo Classic or Gent Wevelgem. Quality, or quantity?
  • Alpecin Deceuninck’s Gianni Vermeersch and his Lotto-Dstny namesake Florian finished on the same time Sunday, 11th and 12th respectively. Weird huh? And are they related? Not as far as we know.
  • “Mr. Monument” MvdP has now finished top-10 in all but one of his 14 monument starts. Of those, he won four and hit the podium a further four times.
    • He knows how to party too, apparently – MvdP barreled down to the local disco with some teammates Sunday night to celebrate.

Roubaix: No race for returning champions

Peter Sagan’s last ride through Roubaix ended in concussion. (Photo: Etienne Garnier – Pool/Getty Images)

“Hell” is not friendly to riders that once conquered its pavé.

Reigning Paris-Roubaix Dylan van Baarle suffered a broken hand, shoulder and “battered face” Sunday in a nasty crash on the Trouée d’Arenberg.

The 2018 champion Peter Sagan was sent piling into a ditch on just the second cobbled sector and left with concussion.

An John Degenkolb, winner in 2015, collapsed in tears in the velodrome after a crash on the Carrefour de l’Arbre ended his chances at a Roubaix double.

The only other recent former champion to start Sunday was Greg Van Avermaet, who finished more than five minutes back.

“I was chasing the whole race,” Van Avermaet told Het Nieuwsblad afterward. “I couldn’t keep up with the real top. I must honestly conclude that.”

Van Aert crushes the Carrefour KoM … on a flat tire

Kudos to you, Wout.

Wout van Aert scored one of Strava’s most prestigious KoMs in the most unlikely circumstances Sunday in his ride to third.

Van Aert barreled over the five-star stones of Carrefour de l’Arbre at nearly 42kph to claim the fastest uploaded time on the segment.

And that was all while he was nursing a rear-wheel flat that he was later forced to change, effectively ending his quest for victory.

“Puncturing is part of Paris-Roubaix, but it was a puncture at Carrefour de l’Arbre, the last hard section,” Van Aert said. “Afterward it was virtually impossible to win. I think I was alone in front and punctured on the corner.”

“At the moment I had the flat tire, I was feeling really strong,” he added. “Even on a flat rear tire, I finished the sector almost in his [Van der Poel’s] wheel so I think I had the legs to do more.”

More bad news for WvA – he might not hold that KoM for long, as Mathieu van der Poel has not yet uploaded his winning file.

Flat tires, exploding tires, pressure-regulated tires … all things tires

Derek Gee’s tire, and then rim, saw better days on the Arenberg. (Photo: Eurosport / GCN)

And while we’re on the subject of tires, who caught breakaway racer Derek Gee’s spectacular unseating rubber on the Arenberg?

The Canadian was rolling happily in the day’s break when his tubeless tire shore clear of the rim, sending sealant spewing over the stones.

“It was probably one of the coolest moments of my life as the first guy onto the Arenberg Forrest to maybe one of the worst moments of my life standing there watching everyone go past,” Gee said Sunday afternoon.

Like any Paris-Roubaix, tire talk filled both team paddocks and column inches before “Hell of the North” as adjustable pressure regulators sat poised to enter the peloton.

Jumbo-Visma put three racers – but not Wout van Aert – on to the KAPS system, while DSM had two riders on the Scope Atmoz wheelset.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what rubber Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel rode Sunday? They both appeared to be using the new Vittoria Corsa Pros.

The Pogačar-Van der Poel monument race

Van der Poel and banter-buddy Pogačar both hold titles at three of the five monuments. (Photo: Chris Auld / VN)

Tadej Pogačar and Mathieu van der Poel are friends off the bike, banter-buddies on social media, and now they’re rivals in a monument chase.

Van der Poel’s victory Sunday leaves him a total of four monument titles across Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, and Roubaix.

Pogačar likewise has amassed four wins in the historic races, but across the climber-friendly Ronde, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Il Lombardia.

Who of Pogačar and Van der Poel could complete the monument sweep, and who could do it first?

It’s a narrative to follow as the two young superstars pedal through their careers.

Pogačar already discussed his hurdle of having to unlock the “hardest race to win” that is San Remo and the physical handbrake he’d face at Roubaix.

And Van der Poel?

With shoulders like a freight train and a 75kg build, the longer climbs of Lombardia could prove a problem, though Liège could currently be in his reach.

Here’s hoping the two both try for the monument sweep. Seeing Pogo attempting to conquer 55km of pavé, or watching Van der Poel trying to sizzle on the steep slopes of the Italian Sormano would be one box-set I’d sure buy in to.

‘Iron’ Cam Wurf and his post-Roubaix half marathon

No rest for ‘Iron Cam.’

How would you celebrate completing Paris-Roubaix?

A pizza and some beers?

A box-set coma on the couch?

Not if you’re Ineos Grenadiers workhorse and Ironman triathlete Cameron Wurf.

Just hours after riding into the velodrome 23 minutes behind Mathieu van der Poel, the 39-year-old former Olympic rower and endurance monster laced up his runners for a half marathon.

Wurf trotted out the 21km in a sub-90 minute time that even the freshest and fittest enthusiast would be proud of, and that’s after he complained on his Roubaix file that the ride was “so bumpy it hurts to pee.”

… And lastly, let’s face it … Roubaix hits harder than most races on the calendar.

Sometimes pictures tell a thousand words. Here are just a selection of the day’s striking snaps:

The perennial ‘wheels in the air at Roubaix’ picture never gets old. (Photo: Chris Auld / VN)
This is what 55km pavé does to a rider. (Photo: Gruber Images / VN)
Roubaix: Brilliant on the couch, cruel on the road. (Photo: Etienne Garnier – Pool/Getty Images)
Riders collapse on the velodrome infield at the finish, in a world of their own. (Photo: Gruber Images / VN)
… And they’re still in a daze when they stumble toward the historic stone showers inside the ancient bowl. (Photo: Gruber Images / VN)
‘What’s a man gotta do to get some quiet around here dammit!’ (Photo: Gruber Images / VN)

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.