King Kelly tames the mud bowl, 1984 Paris-Roubaix.
Men transformed into dusty or mud-caked zombies locked in a battle for survival. Their machines, submitted to the traps of a demented road, fall prey to repeated technical incidents. The falls, individual or collective, open the pages of a perpetual tragedy.
-Vélo Magazine, 2004
Friday File begins with this Sunday's Hell of the North. My favorite single-day race of the season.
Why is it my favorite? The mystique, history, drama, excitement as the world's toughest classic specialists try to conquer the notorious cobblestones called Paris-Roubaix.
Christophe Mengin, 2008
photo: James Startt
A race with a rich history that goes back to 1896, born at the same time as the modern Olympic Games and the popularity of velodromes in France. This Sunday is the 111th edition - 254 kilometers long, 27 cobbled sectors with more cobblestones (52.6 km). The Pont-Gibus cobbled sector returns, follows the crossing of the famous Trouée d'Arenberg. Gibus is the nicknamed for Gilbert Duclos Lassalle who won in 1992 and 1993.
Now, the question is, Can a Frenchman win? Frédéric Guesdon, the last French winner (1997) seems so long ago. Perhaps the sun will shine again, Sébastien Turgot, second last year is a motivating force and will be back. Throw in young classic hopefuls Matthieu Ladagnous and Arnaud Demare... voilà! there's reason for French fans to sing Le Marseillaise.
Whilst the French are still looking for victory, Belgian riders have the dominant upper hand in this glorious race with 55 victories. Tom Boonen will not defend his title after injuries suffered in the Tour of Flanders. The record of 4 wins he shares with Roger De Vlaeminck remains for another year.
Riders for a Hellish good ride...
Fabian Cancellara is the man to beat. No doubt. He will be marked but no one has that tt speed plus he loves the cobbles. He did fall on Thursday's recon ride then sat in the team car...I still wouldn't rule him out.
Sebastien Turgot is a true man of the classics. His 8th place in Flanders and second in 2012 P-R shows he is ready for Sunday.
Riders you can't count out: Thor Hushovd (time for the God of Thunder to throw the hammer down), Juan Antonio Flecha (numerous top-ten finishes), Johan Van Summeren, Henrich Haussler (6th Flanders, new team and highly motivated), Eddy Boasson Hagen & Jurgen Roelandts (3rd in Flanders).
I plan to join our Frfuggitivi squad this Saturday evening in New Westminster...
In fact, if you are a roadie in the area - you are invited!
I have a feeling Mario is going
for a Belgian win.
Let's respect each other out there!