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Photo: Joe Hall
Paris-Roubaix is an easy race to fall in love with from the comfort of an armchair. The Queen of the Classics' appeal is visceral, with the cobbles demanding their pound of flesh and the mud-caked faces & haunted eyes belonging to someone else.
The history of the area is tangible, made up of towns that lend their name to First World War battles and the squat, muscular shapes of Second World War bunkers which fleck the windswept landscape. The clichéd comparisons seem facile but are apt, it’s an attritional ride and each sector wears you down. To survive it was enough for me, to race it… unbelievable.
Riding into the first sector causes bottles to leap from cages bent tight the previous night, hands flinch back from the hoods to the tops and against your will slowly begin to contract like a vice. It takes a conscious effort to relax, to get behind the gear and push. Get the head up & the eyes looking beyond the rider in front, hunt for the smooth line. The sanctuary of the draft takes on a sinister dimension.
Is this the best line? Can they be trusted not to fall off in front of me?
The world contracts beyond the peloton, the cobbles become yours to suffer alone.
As it was largely dry I hunted for the solace of the gutter, God knows what you do in the wet. Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (the last real sector) lacks a gutter and the cobbles litter the track, seemingly discarded there as a half-hearted afterthought, it’s a complete shit.
Francesco Moser has the best advice I’ve come across for Paris Roubaix: “_Be strong, ride in front and have a little luck_” If it rains with 4000 people on the parcours you’ll need a lot of the final attribute. Pay as much attention to the preparation of your bike as your body. Loctite bolts, tighten spokes and ride light, tiptoe across the stones, don’t wake the beast…
If I was in love before, I’m infatuated now.
- RT @IonaNiDhalaigh: Yahhh mountain jersey in the bag!!! Nice one @mike_cuming!!! @raphacondor http://t.co/GrGqSL0Kgl
- RT @CondorWarehouse: Nice to see the @raphacondor JLT team bike on display @campagnolosrl HQ with so many top pro teams http://t.co/5CgE0tY…
- RT @anpostras: GC after Stage 4: Bialoblocki,, McConvey, Guldhammer, Handley, Pelletier-Roy, Hunal, Simon Yates, Fodor, Roger Aiken, Archbo…
- Spare a thought for @Porterelliott who punctured out of the yellow jersey group, when will he get some luck!
- Took the @anpostras on today. Didn't quite pull it off. @RichHandley90 4th on GC and @mike_cuming in the KoM jersey.
- Tour series update from Stoke up on the site http://t.co/aVdcnGnkOX
- RT @elstopbanana: Here's Kristian House @raphacondor at last night's @TourSeries picture by Sue Howlett Great racing! @SoTCityCouncil http:…
- RT @sticky_bottle: Meant to say, to be eligible for the @raphacondor team car compeition you have to be a stickybottle twitter follower!
- RT @sticky_bottle: OK folks; nice morning for it. To win a day in the Rapha Condor JLT team car on the Rás last stage, Sunday, just retweet…
- Third team overall for the Men in Black at Stoke last night in the @TourSeries