Paris-Roubaix, World Cup Round 3

France, April 13, 1997

1996 Results and Analysis



       10:25h Start: Compiegne 			  0 km
       12:48h Cobbles Troisvilles 		 97 km
       14:27h Cobbles Wallers - Voremberg 	160 km
       17:10h Arrival Roubaix - Velodrome 	266 km

The Route - 266.5 km

Compiegne start
Noyon 					 21km
Ham 					 41 km
St. Qentin 				 58 km
Troisvilles 				 97 km
first cobblestone track 		100.5 km
cobblestone track Quievy
cobblestone track
Solesmes 				115 km
cobblestone track Verchain-Maugre
cobblestone track Saulzoir
cobblestone track Querenaing-Maing
Valenciennes 				143 km
cobblestone track Wallers
cobblestone track
Hornaing 				167 km
cobblestone track Warlaing
cobblestone track
Orchies 				186 km
cobblestone track Bersee
cobblestone track
cobblestone track
Mons-en-Pevele 				205 km
Phalempin 				214 km
cobblestone track
cobblestone track
Has 					221 km
cobblestone track
cobblestone track
cobblestone track
Cysoing 				238 km
cobblestone track
cobblestone track Wannehain
cobblestone track
last cobblestone track 			256.5 km 
Hem 					261 km
Roubaix finish 				266.5 km

Total cobblestone tracks: 49,3 km

Recent winners

        1996   Johan Museeuw Bel
        1995   Franco Ballerini Ita
        1994   Andrei Tchmil Mol
        1993   Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle Fra
        1992   Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle Fra
        1991   Marc Madiot Fra
        1990   Eddy Plankaert Bel
        1989   Jean Marie Wampers Bel
        1988   Dirl Demol 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

More Pre Race Reports

Not everyone likes the Queen of the Classics but Sunday's Paris-Roubaix will be guaranteed to put the winner up along the great names in cycling.

"I hated it but I had to have a go at it," said five-times Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault of France who mastered the Hell of the North in 1981.

"The big problem is a bad fall. The race itself isn't any more dangerous than other events but an injury now could ruin a rider's preparations for the Tours of Italy or France," he added.

Spain's Miguel Indurain, another five-time Tour de France winner, always avoided the race and was defended by Roger Legeay, Chris Boardman's team manager.

"A great rider doesn't have to race it but a great rider with the potential of winning should take part. That wasn't Indurain's case," he said.

The Spaniard's only goal was the Tour de France and everything was planned accordingly, so one-day classics, especially with the cobbled-stone barriers the 266km long Paris-Roubaix throws up, rarely figured in his race programme.

Manolo Saiz, who leads the Spanish team which will be without their world number one Laurent Jalabert of France, says most Spanish teams concentrate on the Basque Tour currently being raced.

"If you can't take a strong team to the Paris-Roubaix there's no point," he added.

"Anything can happen, any time," says another team manager, Marc Madiot who rode the event for 12 years.

"But they shouldn't change anything. This is THE race in which you have got to have tragedy and glory. People expect real drama," he said of the 101-year-old event.

"It wouldn't have lasted this long if it had been made easier."

Denmark's Rolf Sorensen, who went to the top of the World Cup standings after winning last Sunday's Tour of Flanders, has had a change of heart and will now ride Sunday's race.

World champion Johan Museeuw, robbed of victory by a mass pileup within sight of the finish in last month's Milan-San Remo, is favourite to retain the title he won last year in a somewhat controversial finish.

His two Italian team-mates teammates Gianluca Bortolani and Andrea Tafi, who had helped break the field, had to be opdered by their team manager to allow the Belgian, third the previous year, to take the winner's honours.

Italy's Franco Ballerini, winner, second, third and fifth, in the last four years, is another man to have proved he has what it takes to survive in Hell.

But it will all depend on team orders. He is in the same team as Museeuw.

Museeuw and Mapei

The powerful Mapei team face a dilemma in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix classic as they bid for a third consecutive victory in the world's most demanding one-day race.

Last year the domination of the Belgo-Italian squad on the cobblestones of northern France was such that team chief Patrick Lefevre decided to sacrifice the chances of Italians Gianluca Bortolami and Andrea Tafi in favour of Belgium's Johan Museeuw.

Since then, Museeuw has won a second World Cup and a first world road title and it seems now to be the turn of Mapei's Italian leaders Tafi and Franco Ballerini.

Ballerini, winner on the Roubaix cycling track in 1995, showed recently in the Tour of Flanders he was in great shape.

Tafi is in form as well and was the bitterest loser last year, coming close to tears after being asked to let Museeuw win. Bortolami has since changed teams to join Festina.

But even though rumours in the Mapei camp stress Ballerini might be the team's unofficial leader this year, Museeuw is also eager to make up for lost time.

The 31-year-old Belgian fell in the final sprint of the Milan-San Remo classic, the opening race of the World Cup. Last week he also found himself out of contention in the Tour of Flanders when Italian Bruno Boscardin fell in front of him.

Despite winning the De Panne three days earlier this month, Museeuw badly needs a victory to boost his World Cup hopes.

His teammates may once again be his toughest rivals, but a last minute entrant could settle the feud.

Denmark's Rolf Sorensen has not taken part to Paris-Roubaix since 1991 and his initial plans were to skip it again this year.

But his victory last week in the Tour of Flanders persuaded him he should give it a try once again, if only to defend his lead in the World Cup standings.

``My victory in Flanders was so commanding I'm now convinced it can be a good Paris-Roubaix for me,'' he said.

Sorensen and other classic specialists may be favoured by the weather, which according to forecasts should be dry and sunny.

Riders like Fabio Baldato, Briton Max Sciandri and even German sprinter Erik Zabel may have a real chance if the conditions made the course faster.

Otherwise, specialists such as Ukraine's Andrei Chmil, the 1994 winner, or Russia's Vyacheslav Yekimov should be Mapei's leading rivals.

But the French public would also like to see a Frenchman win in Roubaix now that Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle and Marc Madiot have retired. Sprinter Frederic Moncassin looks their biggest hope.

Once again, the main names already preparing for the big summer Tours will be missing. France's Laurent Jalabert, Switzerland's Tony Rominger and Alex Zuelle, Briton Chris Boardman or Dane Bjarne Riis have all decided not to risk their season in one day.

Some More Data

4 victories

Roger de Vlaeminck (Belgium) 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977

3 victories

Francesco Moser (Italy) 1978, 1979, 1980 
Eddy Merckx (Belgium) 1968, 1970, 1973 
Rik Van Looy (Belgium) 1961, 1962, 1965 
Gaston Rebry (Belgium) 1931, 1934, 1935 
Octave Lapize (France) 1909, 1910, 1911 

2 victories

Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (France) 1992, 1993 
Marc Madiot (France) 1985, 1991 
Sean Kelly (Ireland) 1984, 1986 
Rik Van Steenbergen (Belgium) 1948, 1952 
Georges Claes (Belgium) 1946, 1947 
Henri Pelissier (France) 1919, 1921 
Charles Crupelandt (France) 1912, 1914 
Hippolyte Aucouturier (France) 1903, 1904 
Lucien Lesna (France) 1901, 1902 
Maurice Garin (France) 1897, 1898

Fastest average speed: Peter Post 45.129 kph (1964)

Cobbles Curtailed And Other Roubaix Notes

This year's Paris--Roubaix, to be run on Sunday with a start in Compiegne at 10.15am, will have 900m less cobbled sections than the 1996 event despite reserve sections being brought in to replace sections that have had to be left out because of road repairs. In the 266.5km total distance there will be 49.3km of cobbles compared with 50.2km in 1996. Three sections (lying between Bersee--km202 and Ennetieres--km224) have had to be partly or totally taken out of the race because of the roadworks. These are the whole of the section between Bersee and Merignies, the whole section between Attiches and Watiessart, and part of the section between Templemars and Ennetieres. Three sections have been added partly to make up for these losses -- the forest of Phalempin (zone 8), which appears in the race for the first time in 12 years; Martinsart (zone 7) and the stretch from the hamlet of Has to Ennetieres.

Another change: the whole of the stretch through the forest of Arenberg will have a security fence down the left-hand side. This will protect the riders from over-enthusiastic spectators (or indeed vindictive ones -- I've seen riders driven off the relatively smooth footpath back onto the cobbles by those desperate for a spectacle) but also mean that they won't be able any longer to get a respite from the cobbles on the relatively smooth footpath. That, I'd say, in view of the heavy use that is usually made of the path by a long line-out avoidng the very rough stones, will go a fair way to compensate for the missing 900m.

Theoretically, all 22 Division 1 teams are supposed to send a team to each of the World Cup races but they can appeal to the race organizers of individual races to be relieved of this obligation. BANESTO have successfully done this with Paris--Roubaix and now POLTI, afflicted by an exceptionally high level of injuries, has also been excused the race. The race organiser, the Societe du Tour de France, takes the view that it's better to have teams that are motivated for the race rather than those that are reluctant to ride.

The 25 teams that will take part, are as follows, with some riders listed:

AKI: Zanette
ASICS: Roscioli, Colonna
BATIK: Cenghialta, Pierobon
BIGMAT AUBER 93: Auger, Boussard, Genty, Gouvenou, Henry, Lesniewski;
BRESCIALAT: Milesi, Camin
COFIDIS: Saugrain, Andreu, Capelle, Desbiens, Gaumont, Millar, Moreau, Thibout
CASINO: Chanteur, Aus, Barthe, Durand, Jaermann, Kirsipuu, Pontier
LA FRANCAISE DES JEUX: Sciandri, Bouyer, Guesdon, Mengin, Mentheour, D. Nazon,
J-P Nazon, Seigneur
FESTINA: Magnien, Basons, Boscardin, Hernandez, Laurent, Medan, Tebaldi, Wust
GAN: Monncassin, Bos, Lemarchand, O'Grady, Poli,
Pretot, Simon, Vogels
LOTTO: Tchmil, Abdoujaparov, Planckaert, Wauters; MG: Baldato, Fontanelli
MAPEI-GB: Museeuw, Ballerini, Bomans, Peeters, Pianegonda, Spruch, Tafi, Zanini
MERCATONE UNO: M. Zberg, Bottaro, Traversoni
LA MUTUELLE DE SEINE-ET-MARNE: Anti, Chauviere, Cueff, Fraser, Lamour, Pillon
RABOBANK: Van Bon, Dekker
REFIN: Bettin
ROSLOTTO ZG: Konychev, Strazzer, Savoldelli;
SAECO: Fagnini, Fidanza
SCRIGNO: Guidi, Conte
TELEKOM: Zabel, Aldag, Wesemann, Lombardi
TVM: Capiot, Michaelsen, Van Dyck, Van Petegem
US POSTAL: Ekimov, Derame, Baranowski.

Pre-announced as being expected to put in an appearance at Sint Niklaas to see off the start of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, LANCE ARMSTRONG apparently went instead to Italy. He's making up for this in good measure on the occasion of Paris--Roubaix. He will give two press conferences on Saturday, one in Paris at 9.45 and one in the race start town of Compiegne at 12.15.

GILBERT DUCLOS-LASSALLE, winner in 1992 and 1993 will also be on the race route in an unaccustomed guise, as the subject of a new biography and presumably wielder of the autographer's pen. Philippe Le Gars' book Duclos-Lasalle: au coeur de la course (Amphora, FF98) will be ROLF SORENSEN, who had originally not planned to ride Paris--Roubaix, but changed his mind after his victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, again begins to look a little doubtful for Sunday's race. He pulled out of the Tour of the Basque Country before the Thursday stage, apparently suffering from knee pain. It may be, though, that he will be sufficiently recuperated by the weekend.

FABIO BALDATO, second to Andrei Tchmil in the wet Paris--Roubaix of 1994, is a little pessimistic about his chances. Having scratched from the Ronde van Vlaanderen because of flu, he has returned to racing in the Tour of the Basque Country. But in his view "that won't be sufficient to bring me back up among the favourites in Paris--Roubaix".

STEFANO ZANINI, fourth to the Mapei team time triallists last year and later winner of Amstel Gold with a sparkling breakaway, is showing good form, having won stage three of the Tour of the Basque Country. Now with Mapei-GB (he rode for Gewiss last year) he adds to the Roubaix strength in depth of the team. Directeur sportif Pietro Algeri reckons the Basque appearance good preparation. "Before him, Kelly (two victories) and Duclos-Lassalle (two victories) proved [the stage race's] worth. And Zanini reminds me a great deal of Kelly..." presented by Duclos in sessions at bookshops in Roubaix on Saturday morning and Compiegne on Saturday afternoon.

Interviewed by L'Equipe (and pictured wearing a world champion's jersey autographed by Abraham Olano and carrying a Colnago bike on his shoulder) Mapei company boss DOTTORE GIORGIO SQUINZI put his side of the story about the 1-2-3 Mapei victory in last year's Paris--Roubaix. The Italian press, it will be recalled, miffed that neither Gianluca Bortolami nor Andrea Tafi had been given the go-ahead to win, had put it about that Squinzi had ordered by mobile phone that Johan Museeuw should take first place. Squinzi, a solid cycling fan whose 53rd birthday coincides with the start of the Giro d'Italia next month, still stoutly denies this. The only order he gave by phone, he says, was about team bonuses and went to Mapei manager Alvaro Crespi, not to directeur sportif Patrick Lefevere. "I received a call from our manager, Alvaro Crespi, telling me that three of our team were in the lead but their contracts only allowed for a bonus for the race winner." said Squinzi. "Tell them," Squinzi told Crespi, "that if they all arrive together on the velodrome I will multiply the bonus by three."

Lefevere adds to this testimony. He says he spoke to Squinzi by phone earlier in the race -- "I gave him news about the way the race was going and we exchanged banalities" -- but not after the break got away. At some time during the break he in any case broke the antenna on his phone and was unable to send or receive calls, he claimed. Nonetheless, Squinzi reckons Lefevere made the right decision. "In a situation like that." he said, "it's the team leader who must win..."

Whatever the truth, Squinzi is enjoying his personal fame as the man who -- allegedly -- decided who would win Paris--Roubaix and the publicity it has brought his company. This stretches beyond bike-racing circles. "Recently," said Squinzi, "I was presented at a big scientific congress as the boss of Mapei and the gentleman who decided the finishing order at Paris--Roubaix. Everybody then looked at me much more attentively..."

To build on this publicity Dottore Squinzi is having thousands of copies printed of a poster showing his three heroes rounding the Roubaix track. The slogan on the poster is of his own devising and will read:"La Parigi--Roubaix del centenario e Cosa Nostra", roughly translatable as "The centenary Paris--Roubaix is our thing [or "is our business"]". L'Equipe's reporter couldn't resist the question: "The Mafia?" he asked. Dottore Squinzis reply was lost in a peal of laughter...

Tafi prepares

Andrea Tafi is a masochist, like it was with the champions once. Wednesday, after the 208 kilometers of Gent-Wevelgem, the Tuscan rode another 60 kilometers behind a car in company of World Champion Johan Museeuw. It is a program like in the past, like that of Eddy Merckx and Roger De Vlaeminck (experts of Roubaix) who on Wednesday would also work hard and ride more than the 300 kilometers in order have their legs ready for the Hell of the Pavi. After all Tafi is a diesel, he needs to race and race in order to find his best form. "I feel ready -the Tuscan sais-. Since November my odometer marks at least 20 thousand kilometers, I will arive at Roubaix with 40 days of competition. In my conscience I have done everything that I must do. But now I will have to wait on help from Mr. destiny". Musseuw and Ballerini will be the designated team captains for Mapei-GB though.

Last year Tafi finished third at the Roubaix Velodrome. In the race he was the equal of Museeuw and Bortolami, but he had to be the ugly duckling and was the only one to sincerely declare his bitterness at the escaped opportunity. But since then, the ugly duckling has become a prince, thanks to the successes at Paris-Bruselles and above all at Lombardy. "As more time passes, I believe that the decision that was made a year ago was the correct one -says Tafi-. Museeuw deserved the success at Roubaix and my sacrifice has been greatly repaid. This however has not prevented me from dreaming of my success at Roubaix. And for six months, since the beginning of my winter preparation, I haven't thought of anything else".

Andrea lives days of fire, because the principal favorites for Roubaix are once more from his team. And there is a certain tension at the hotel of Mapei-GB. Johan Museeuw is the World Champion, the last winner at Roubaix and he has a bad taste in his mouth from his unlucky adventures at Sanremo and Flanders. And Franco Ballerini has beeb keeping up with the best Italo-Belgian riders. "It is correct that they deserve it -says Tafi-. But I will have my space, they have promised me. I'm an attacker by nature and I could try going from far away, we will decide it on the run. I hope that the beautiful weather remains, because I want tough competition. I like to face the pave in front, when I am in front my strengths multiply".

And if the same situation of last year comes up, with three teammates in front with a few kilometers from the finish?

"It seems to me impossible and I don't know how I would react. We will make the the decisions on the run, as professionals. There is always a strong team spirit amongst us. Squinzi's slogan (Team owner) is: win together".