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Paris - Roubaix - -100 years
By Podofdonny
Date: 4/10/2002
Paris - Roubaix - -100 years

Paris--Roubaix 1st edition, April 19 1896

Started in 1896 as a warm up for Bordeaux - Paris,or alternatively as a promotion for the new Velodrome in Roubaix, it has always featured the rough roads of the northern coal mining area. For many years it was the hill at Doullens which brought out huge crowds to watch the first splits in the field at 150 kilometres into the route. The race would then enter the infamous "l'enfer du Nord" - the hell of the North, where the rough cobbled roads (pave) would cause crashes and severe fatigue amongst the riders. The actual phrase “hell of the north “is thought to originate from when the race was restarted following the First World War in 1919 when in addition to the cruel pave the race passed by the scenes of destruction and battle fields of that terrible war .

"La Pascale" the Easter Race ( for the race is usually held on or around Easter Sunday) is rarely won by any but the true “giants of the road” riders such as Roger De Vlaeminck were reknowned for their ability to seemingly glide over the surfaces of the pave , which gives the race its unique atmosphere.However improved road surfaces in the 1960’s started to threaten the character of the race .So the organisers were forced to move the start position of the race searching for new cobbled sections as more and more of the old roads were tarmaced over .So in 1968 , following the advice of Jean Stablinski the route was moved to its present start point at Compiègne. However a further revision was required in 1977 which saw the inclusion for the first time of the infamous Wallers-Arenberg forest .The organisers and French public have thankfully realised the value of the course and the 100th Paris Roubaix looks to have regained much of its proud tradition.

phrases to impress your friend with while watching the race

"jamais un cloche ne gagne la Pascale" - lit “the Easter Race is never won by a tramp “ - that is - “you have got to be a classy rider to win PR”

For more history on this great race - check out

The race has inspired many bike builders over the years to name their products after the great race - check out this 1951 Bianchi -

Meanwhile lets not forget the first winner of the race 100 years ago ,Josef Fischer - a German who is certainly inspiring the Telekom team to try for a unique century double -

Paris--Roubaix 1st edition, April 19 1896

Start: 5.05am, Porte Maillot, Paris

Finish: Parc Barbieux velodrome, Roubaix

1. Josef Fischer (Germany) 280km in 9.17.00 (average 30.162kph)

2. Charles Meyer (Denmark) +36 minutes**

3. Maurice Garin (France) +38 minutes

4. Arthur Linton (Great Britain [Wales]) +45 minutes

5. L. Stein (France) +1 hour

The times of the riders are not exact - various sources give different times - what is known is that Linton and Fischer were 6 minutes up on Garin at Amiens (just under halfway through the race) when Linton suffered a fate still common in cycling today - he collided with a dog .Linton’s bike was damaged and he lost still more time looking for a replacement bike , while Garin was overtaken by Meyer somewhere along the route .

Fischer won 1,000 francs (about half a years salary for a skilled worker)

So who will win on Sunday - and whoever he is , lets all remember Josef Fischer

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