Modifications to the route of this year’s Paris-Roubaix are expected to create a more intense race with the Forest of Arenberg section now closer to the finish. A new, never before used section of pave, inserted just after the Forest of Arenberg and two other sectors after 142km, should also add an extra twist to the race.
“The racing will be more intense before the Arenberg,” race director Christian Prudhomme told La Derniere Heure newspaper after checking the course with technical director Jean-François Pescheux on Tuesday.
Pescheux explained that two sections of pave, at Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes and Famars, make a return to the route, with the new section of Millonfosse-Bousiginies coming just four kilometres after the Forest of Arenberg. ASO varies the course to make sure as many sections of pave are protected.
"We can’t lock down the course. There are about 70km of pave in the north and the municipalities should be encouraged to save them all," Pescheux said.
There is a total of 51.5km of cobbles in this year’s race route divided into 27 sectors. The new route means the Forest of Arenberg is now 86km from the finish, 12km less than in recent years. Last year Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen led the peloton through the Forest before Cancellara blasted away to win alone in the velodrome.
Former rider Thierry Gouvenou predicted the addition of the Millonfosse section of pave immediately after the Forest of Arenberg will influence the finale of the race.
“There used to be a long transition after Arenberg that allowed some riders to get back to the head of the race. Now some team leaders won’t have teammates with them and that will have an impact on their race strategy,” Gouvenou predicted in L'Equipe.