This year's Paris-Roubaix will include 54.5km of cobbled roads, divided across 29 different sectors of the 257km race distance, with the Trouée d'Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l'Arbre given five-star status as the hardest and longest of the race.
On Tuesday, race director Christian Prudhomme and technical director Thierry Gouvenou led the final inspection of the race route under grey skies and rain, stopping at the Monument made to remember Michael Goolaerts, who died during last year's race after suffering a cardiac arrest. The second sector of the race between Briastre and Viesly, has been named in his memory, and Goolaerts' race number 84, will not be issued for this year's race.
Paris-Roubaix will again start in Compiegne, to the east of the French capital and finish on the open-air Roubaix velodrome. Some 7,000 riders will get to ride the Paris-Roubaix Challenge on Saturday, covering 70km, 145km and 172km routes across the pavé.
The Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix volunteers have again worked hard in recent months to restore key sectors of the pavé, with students from three local agricultural schools helping with the work on uncovering, cleaning and relaying the cobblestones. As a special thank you they will get to meet 2018 Paris-Roubaix winner Peter Sagan on Thursday afternoon, when his name plate will be added to one of the legendary shower cubicle.
The route of Paris-Roubaix has changed over the years as different sectors of cobbles are included or removed. This year the order of the early sectors has been slightly shuffled and the first sector between Troisvilles and Inchy has been reduced to 900 metres.
The 29 sectors begin after 97km of racing and countdown until the final symbolic 300m sector outside the Roubaix velodrome.
Arguably the biggest change is to the cobbles in the Forest of Arenberg. The thick trees close to the miner's track means grass and moss grows between the cobbles making the sector incredible dangerous, especially in the case of rain.
Race organisers ASO were obliged to prepare an alternative route in case of rain to protect rider safety and so local authorities and Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix helped clean out the grass and moss, reset some cobbles and filled the joints with special mortar. The opening 500 metres –which riders hit at over 50km/h due to a slight downhill, have now been cleaned and have a brown look due to the new mortar. The rest of the 2,300m sector will be cleaned in the next two years.
The decisive sectors
The Forest of Arenberg usually marks the start of the decisive racing in Paris-Roubaix and comes after 164.5km. It is sector 19, with other testing sectors coming thick and fast in the remaining 90km.
Sector 17: Hornaing to Wandignies is 3.7km long but has been given four stars, as has sector the 2.4km sector 15 from Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières. Long-range attacks often go on the three-kilometre long, five-star Mons-en-Pévèle sector, with on where back for any stragglers or puncture victims.
The double whammy of sector 5: Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 239.5 - 1.8 km) and sector 4: the five-star Carrefour de l'Arbre (km 242.5 - 2.1 km) usually attract massive crowds and are the scene where the final attacks are made.
Last year, Peter Sagan attacked from a group of favourites with 54km remaining and never looked back. He swept up the remnants of the early break, with Silvan Dillier (AG2R la Mondiale) the only rider to capable of staying with him. Sagan beat the Swiss rider in the sprint and so got to lift the cobbled stone winner’s trophy on the podium.
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, with a full race report, photo gallery, news and interviews post race.
The 29 cobbled sectors of the 2019 Paris-Roubaix:
29: Troisvilles to Inchy (km 97.5 - 0.9 km) **
28: Briastre to Viesly (km 108.5 - 3 km) ****
27: Viesly to Quiévy (km 101.5 - 1.8 km) ***
26: Quiévy to Saint-Python (km 116 - 3.7 km) ****
25: Saint-Python (km 118.5 - 1.5 km) **
24: Vertain to Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon (km 127.5 - 2.3 km) ***
23: Verchain-Maugré to Quérénaing (km 136.5 - 1.6 km) ***
22: Quérénaing to Maing (km 140.5 - 2.5 km) ***
21: Maing to Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 142.5 - 1.6 km) ***
20: Haveluy to Wallers (km 156.5 - 2.5 km) ****
19: Trouée d'Arenberg (km 164.5 - 2.3 km) *****
18: Wallers to Hélesmes (km 170 - 1.6 km) ***
17: Hornaing to Wandignies (km 179 - 3.7 km) ****
16: Warlaing to Brillon (km 185 - 2.4 km) ***
15: Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières (km 188.5 - 2.4 km) ****
14: Beuvry to Orchies (km 194 - 1.4 km) ***
13: Orchies (km 199 - 1.7 km) ***
12: Auchy to Bersée (km 206.5 - 2.7 km) ****
11: Mons-en-Pévèle (km 212 - 3 km) *****
10: Mérignies to Avelin (km 215.5 - 0.7 km) **
9: Pont-Thibault to Ennevelin (km 220 - 1.4 km) ***
8: Templeuve - L'Épinette (km 224 - 0.2 km) *
8: Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain (km 225 - 0.5 km) **
7: Cysoing to Bourghelles (km 232 - 1.3 km) ***
6: Bourghelles to Wannehain (km 234.5 - 1.1 km) ***
5: Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 239.5 - 1.8 km) ****
4: Carrefour de l'Arbre (km 242.5 - 2.1 km) *****
3: Gruson (km 244 - 1.1 km) **
2: Willems to Hem (km 251 - 1.4 km) ***
1: Roubaix (km 256 - 0.3 km) *