Centenary Paris-Roubaix (1896-1996)

93rd edition - April 14

Preview - Centenary Paris-Roubaix

First winner 1896: Josef Fischer (Germany), last winner 1995: Franco Ballerini (Italy)

Nineteen of the top 20 teams will be at the start (ONCE being the absentee) and the organisers have managed to squeeze in 27 teams within the UCI limit of 200 riders for a World Cup event, since not all teams will field a full eight-man complement.

Seventeen of last year's top-20 finishers will be in the field: the three absentees being Steve Bauer (Saturn is not riding), Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (retired) and Max Sciandri (he scratched from the race today, Thursday, because of a wrist injury sustained in Gent-Wevelgem).

Teams and principal riders as of Thursday:

AGRIGEL-LA CREUSE: Colotti, Durand, Marie
AKI-GIPIEMME: Citterio, Gorini, Tomi, Delphis
AUBERVILLIERS 93-PEUGEOT: Gouvenou, Pontier, Talmant
BANESTO: Nijboer, Nazon, Davy
BRESCIALAT: Strazzer, Jaskula, Milesi
CARRERA: Zberg, Fidanza, Artunghi
PETIT CASINO: Chanteur, Mengin, Agnolutto
COLLSTROP: Capiot, Mulders, Heyndrickx
FESTINA: Brochard, Boscardin, Magnien, Michaelsen
FORCESUD: Capelle, Arnould, Bourguignon
GAN: Gaumont, Moncassin, Moreau, Seigneur
GEWISS: Colombo, Zanini, Bottaro
KELME: Cabello, Edo, Moreda
LOTTO: Tchmil, Wauters
MG: Baldato, Fontanelli, Jaermann
MAPEI: Ballerini, Museeuw, Bortolami, Peeters, Steels
MOTOROLA: Armstrong, Hincapie, Yates
MUUELLE DE SEINE-ET-MARNE: Laurance, Pillon, lamour
PANARIA: Bramati, Serpellini, Spruch
POLTI: Pianegonda, Lombardi, Guesdon
RABOBANK: Ekimov, Van Hooydonck, Van der Poel
REFIN: Abdujaparov, Planckaert, Saitov
ROSLOTTO: Davidenko, Manzoni, Lino
SAECO: Poli, Calcaterra, Fagnini
SAN MARCO: Vanderaerden, Arazzi, Leoni
TELEKOM: Ludwig, Zabel, Aldag
TVM: Hoffman, Van Petegem, Redant

The Route

The Route (263.5km) with approximate times (Central European Time) and approximate route distances ("cobbled" together from a generalized 1996 route and a detailed 1993 one) - Cobbled sections (total 50.2km)
Count down to the finish

Fictive start COMPIEGNE 10.15
Real start COMPIEGNE 10.20
NOYON (km21.5) 10.50
SAINT-QUENTIN (km 58.5) 11.45
TROISVILLES km97.5 -- COBBLES ZONE 22 -- 2200m)
QUIEVY -- COBBLES ZONE 21 -- 1800m
QUIEVY -- COBBLES ZONE 20 -- 3700m
Before SAULZOIR -- COBBLES ZONE 18 -- 900m
After SAULZOIR -- COBBLES ZONE 17 --1200m
Before QUERENAING -- COBBLES ZONE 16 -- 1600m
After QUERENAING -- COBBLES ZONE 15 -- 2500m
VALENCIENNES km143.5 13.50
WALLERS-ARENBERG km153.5 --COBBLES ZONE 14 -- 2400m 14.05
After WALLERS -- COBBLES ZONE 13 -- 1600m
km170 COBBLES ZONE 12 -- 3700m
km171.5 WANDIGNIES -- 14.30
km180 TILLOY -- COBBLES ZONE 11 -- 2700m + 2400m
ORCHIES km186.5 -- 14.50
After ORCHIES --COBBLES ZONE 10 -- 1700m
Before BERSEE -- COBBLES ZONE 9 -- 2800m
km201 BERSEE
km203 COBBLES ZONE 8 -- 3000m
km215 After ATTICHES COBBLES ZONE 7 -- 2100m
km219 SECLIN
km224 COBBLES ZONE 6 -- 2200m+500m
km228 ENNEVELIN COBBLES ZONE 5 -- 1400m + 200m
km230 TEMPLEUVE  15.55
After CYSOING -- COBBLES ZONE 4 -- 1400m
COBBLES ZONE 3 -- 1800m
Before GRUSON -- COBBLES ZONE 2 -- 2100m+1100m
km253 GRUSON
Before HEM -- COBBLES ZONE 1 1400m+300m
km258 HEM 16.38
km 263 ROUBAIX Velodrome 16.45
km263.5 finish

'Hell of the North' too risky for top riders

The notorious Paris-Roubaix classic, aptly dubbed "the Hell of the North," no longer commands the attention of the biggest names in cycling.

Its reputation as a body breaker, established over 100 crash-strewn years of racing on cobblestones and narrow, rutted roads in often appalling weather, has gradually scared them off.

Specialists like last year's winner Franco Ballerini have taken over the 263.5 km test which celebrates its centenary on Sunday.

Second in 1993, third in 1994, the Italian hopes to become only the ninth rider to win the third leg of the World Cup twice in succession.

Ballerini's main asset will be to lead Italian team Mapei, the strongest of 27 squads entered this year.

With compatriot Gianluca Bortolami, ace Belgian sprinter Tom Steels, veteran Wilfried Peeters and World Cup holder Johan Museeuw, he can rely on teammates who will also be serious contenders.

Museeuw, third last year, is especially keen to score Belgium's 47th victory in Roubaix.

A mechanical problem left him third behind Italians Michele Bartoli and Fabio Baldato in last Sunday's Tour of Flanders, his favorite event.

The Belgian will be out for revenge, even though Bartoli is one of the many absentees this year.

But Baldato will be at the start and, with 14 podium places to his credit this season but no victory, the MG team leader will also want to dominate the roads of northern France.

Andrei Tchmil, winner in 1994 and runner-up last year, will also be one of the favorites. In spite of a crash in the Tour of Flanders and consequent rib problems, the Roubaix-based Russian will be closely watched.

German veteran Olaf Ludwig certainly rates Paris-Roubaix as a special event. The 36-year-old Seoul Olympic champion retires at the end of the season and wants to turn his second, third and fourth places into a winning farewell.

In-form Anglo-Italian Max Sciandri would have been another favorite had he not fallen in the Ghent-Wevelgem classic on Wednesday. His painful wrist may leave him struggling on the nerve-jangling cobbles.

The list of absentees includes Laurent Jalabert of France, Milan-San Remo winner Gabriele Colombo, Maurizio Fondriest and American Lance Armstrong. They all decided not to risk their season attempting a race which the great Bernard Hinault described as a lottery.

Winners Paris-Roubaix 1950 - 1995

      1995: Franco Ballerini (Ita)
      1994: Andrej Tchmil (Mol)
      1993: Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (Fra)
      1992: Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (Fra)
      1991: Marc Madiot (Fra)
      1990: Eddy Planckaert (Bel)
      1989: Jean-Marie Wampers (Bel)
      1988: Dirk de Mol (Bel)
      1987: Eric Vanderaerden (Bel)
      1986: Sean Kelly (Irl)
      1985: Marc Madiot (Fra)
      1984: Sean Kelly (Irl)
      1983: Hennie Kuiper (Ned)
      1982: Jan Raas (Ned)
      1981: Bernard Hinault (Fra)
      1980: Francesco Moser (Ita)
      1979: Francesco Moser (Ita)
      1978: Francesco Moser (Ita)
      1977: Roger de Vlaeminck (Bel)
      1976: Marc de Meyer (Bel)
      1975: Roger de Vlaeminck (Bel)
      1974: Roger de Vlaeminck (Bel)
      1973: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
      1972: Roger de Vlaeminck (Bel)
      1971: Roger Rosiers (Bel)
      1970: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
      1969: Walter Godefroot (Bel)
      1968: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
      1967: Jan Janssen (Ned)
      1966: Felice Gimondi (Ita)
      1965: Rik van Looy (Bel)
      1964. Peter Post (Ned)
      1963: Emile Daems (Bel)
      1962: Rik van Looy (Bel)
      1961: Rik van Looy (Bel)
      1960: Pino Cerami (Bel)
      1959: Noel Fore (Bel)
      1958: Leon van Daele (Bel)
      1957: Fred de Bruyne (Bel)
      1956: Louison Bobet (Fra)
      1955: Jean Forestier (Fra)
      1954: Raymond Impanis (Bel)
      1953: Germain Derycke (Bel)
      1952: Rik van Steenbergen (Bel)
      1951: Antonio Bevilacqua (Ita)
      1950: Fausto Coppi (Ita)