Remember the fatal train track passage in the Paris-Roubaix finale two years ago? A railway crossing only ten kilometres away from the finish, which later blocked Tom Boonen, Alessandro Ballan and Juan Antonio Flecha, had already turned to red lights as Leif Hoste, Vladimir Gusev and Peter Van Petegem crossed it. The three riders were relegated by race commissaires - a controversial decision as the Boonen group did not wait for the barriers to lift, either.
Again, there will be several railway crossings on the course this Sunday, amongst which one with 95.5 kilometres to go, right at the entrance to the Arenberg forest sector. Using the fastest average time (42 km/h), the riders could arrive at the crossing at 2.54pm. But that is exactly the same time a regional passenger train is expected to pass the road. And just a few minutes earlier, at 2.45, a French high speed train (TGV) is scheduled on the same crossing.
Race organiser ASO tightly coordinates the freight train schedules with the French train company SNCF, but passenger train schedules cannot be modified prior to the race. However, race director Jean-Francais Pescheux will be in contact with SNCF officials during the event.
The race règlement stipulates that riders are not allowed to cross a railway track once the barriers are down. If groups come together at a crossing, they are required to re-start on according to the time gaps they had prior to the incident.