Paris-Roubaix prelude for the Tour de France?
The 102nd Paris-Roubaix, which will start in Compiègne on April 11th, has a particular significance this year. The pavés of the «Enfer du Nord», will also be used in this year's Tour de France.
The 3,700 metre section of cobbles at Hornaing-Wandignies-Hamage, will also be ridden on the third stage of the Tour de France 2004, on the 6th July, when the peloton race from Waterloo to Wasquehal.
«The peloton of the Tour de France have not ridden the pavés of Paris-Roubaix since the 1980’s», the ASO organisers reminded everyone today, while confirming the 25 teams selected for the race.
The inclusion of a “dangerous section” of road has not really happened so early in the race since the start of Lance Armstrong’s winning run in 1999. On Stage 2, Challans - Saint-Nazaire, the peloton crossed the infamous Gois causeway, a cobbled road across a tidal estuary which is submerged daily by the sea. Only when it is low tide is the road open for about 4 hours. Seaweed and bicycles do not get on.
As the peloton started to cross there was a huge crash. About 70 riders made it clear of the carnage and started to drive hard, Lance Armstrong (the US Postal team were notably to the front as the peloton approached the causeway) amongst them.
Alex Zülle, who finished second to Armstrong, lost over 6 minutes on that second stage. It was in fact pivotal to the race's outcome.
If the weather is poor the paves of Hornaing-Wandignies-Hamage could effect the times of the contenders far more than the simple matter of a time trial up Alpe d’Heuz.
Hincapie on the pave - Daily Peloton
This years edition of the race will be 261 km in total. The section of pavé at Mons-en-Pevele (3.000 mètres), which has not been used for several years returns to the parcours having been restored by the community of Pevele. The pavé section at Haveluy, will also be used having been restored by horticultural students from Raismes, Douai, Dunkerque and Lomme.
In total there will be 26 sections pavés between Troisvilles et Roubaix), and once again the riders will encounter the two notorious sections the forêt d'Arenberg (2.400 mètres) and Carrefour de l'Arbre (2.100 mètres).
25 teams will participate (24 Division 1 teams and 1 team from Division 2, Domina Vacanze):
Belgium: Chocolade Jacques Wincor, Landbouwkrediet Colnago, Lotto, Quick Step Davitamon, Mr Bookmaker Palmans Collstrop.
Denmark: Team CSC.
Spain: Iles Baléares Banesto, Liberty Seguros.
France: AG2R Prévoyance, Brioches La Boulangère, Cofidis Crédit par téléphone, Crédit Agricole, FDJeux.com, R.A.G.T. Semences MG Rover.
Germany: Gerolsteiner, T-Mobile Team.
Italy: Alessio Bianchi, Fassa Bortolo, Lampre, Saeco macchine per caffe, Domina Vacanze (GS2).
Holland: Bankgiroloterij, Rabobank.
Swiss: Phonak Hearing Systems.
United States: US Postal Berry Floor.
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