Surviving Hell: The story of the 2021 Paris-Roubaix

Paris Roubaix 2021 -118th Edition - Denain - Roubaix 257,7 km - 03/10/2021 - Sonny Colbrelli (ITA - Bahrain Victorious) - photo Etienne Garnier/BettiniPhoto©2021.
This is what Paris-Roubaix does to riders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The men line up in Compiègne and, by the time they line up, it is already raining. Hard. Before they even put feet to pedals, water pools in the folds of their rain jackets, creates beads on the surfaces of their glasses, dampens their gloves. 

No one is smiling. There is no reason to smile. It's a grim task ahead of them, Paris-Roubaix, even to begin with, but the rain makes everything so much more dire. 

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Kate Wagner is a Chicago-based writer and critic. Her work on cycling can be found in various publications including Procycling. Her newsletter covers cycling in an unconventional fashion, featuring essays, short stories, multimedia works and illustration.

She can be found Tweeting at @derailleurkate