The 2017 edition of Paris-Roubaix will be delayed by 15-minutes with organisers pushing the start time back to 11:10 am in anticipation of an expected three-quarter tail wind. A major consideration in delaying the race start is to avoid a similar scenario in 2015 when numerous riders broke a level crossing before a TGV thundered through.
"Since the last incident, we have intensified our communication with the SNCF," race director Thierry Gouvenou said according to VeloPro. "We also shifted our schedules. We will not leave before 10:55. If the conditions are good, we could even leave at 11:05 or even 11:10. The passage of the TGV is scheduled at 14:23 on the line of Wallers. Normally we are quiet at this level there. As for the last crossings, we have contact with the regional operators. There is the possibility of delaying trains. Not Wallers though because it's a TGV."
Gouvenou added there was also a sporting consideration with the tail wind, sunny conditions and 20-degree weather all combining to ensure a fast race.
"Such climate conditions usually enable more riders to stay in contention," Gouvenou said. "It's harder for the top specialists to get rid of the weaker riders. More riders are motivated when it's dry.
"They slip and crash less than on wet cobblestones sections but when they crash, they crash harder because the speed is higher. We've obstructed the bike path on the last cobbled section in Hem. It can help attackers who still have resources to ride away. On the other hand, the two new sections from Viesly to Briastre and Briastre to Solesmes [before half way into the race] are too far away to radically impact the racing."
With the change in start time, Gouvenou is expecting the first riders to arrive in the Roubaix velodrome at 5:15 pm. Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors) is aiming to conclude his career on a high by claiming a record fifth title. To read Cyclingnews' Paris-Roubaix 2017 race preview for an overview of the route and favourites, click here.
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of 2017 Paris-Roubaix with a full race report, results, video highlights, photo gallery and news to come. To follow the race on Cyclingnews, head to live.cyclingnews.com and join us for Boonen's final race.