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Paris-Roubaix's famous Arenberg cobblestones in doubt

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 04, 2012, 9:33 GMT,
Updated:
March 04, 2012, 9:20 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, March 4, 2012
Race:
Paris - Roubaix
The cobblestones of the Arenberg Forest await the peloton.

The cobblestones of the Arenberg Forest await the peloton.

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Another change near Denain could add too many kilometres

Two sections of the Paris-Roubaix route are in question for the running of the race on April 8. The famous cobblestones in the Arenberg Forest must still be cleaned as they are still too dangerous to be ridden.

"We had a meeting with the General Council of the North,”Jean-Francois Pescheux, sports director of the race, said Friday, according to AFP.  “The General Council and the associations concerned have agreed to clean up.”

He added that “everything depends on the decision of the DREAL”, the Regional Directorate of Environment, Physical Planning and Housing. That is the local environmental agency, which must first approve the plan.

The cobblestones are covered with moss and other plant growth, which makes riding very dangerous. Peschaux had already announced in January that if the cobblestones are not cleaned, the race course would have to be changed.

Another change may have to be made, which may be more difficult. The race may not be allowed to ride on the CD 40, near the northern French town of Denain. The road goes too close to the Valenciennes oil warehouses, a large fuel storage depot. Organisers say that rearranging the route would add too many kilometers to the race, pushing it above the 260 km allowed by the UCI.

Last summer the local government banned all gatherings, demonstrations and events near the oil warehouses, including sports events. Peschaux said that he hopes to be granted an exception.

"We will await the final position of the prefecture. It's not a comfortable situation two months before the race.” He said at the CD 40 is an important passage  which would be difficult to replace.

“We studied many alternatives, but the entire route would be extended 7 km. And I can not afford it.” The race is currently 257.5km.

Peschaux said that his target date for an answer on this section of the route is next Tuesday.

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