120 metres of additional cobbles in Roubaix

This is what it's all about: Pavé

This is what it's all about: Pavé (Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)

Although the route of this year's Paris-Roubaix has not been changed compared to last year, adding up 28 sections of cobblestone trenches for a total of 52.8 kilometres, the riders will have to battle an additional 120 metres of pavé next Sunday.

As part of the continuing efforts by several associations to restore the cobbled sectors of the 'Hell of the North', students of a Raismes school have dug up a stretch of macadam to unearth the ancient cobblestones of the Verchain-Maugré sector in Quérénaing. "We were very surprised to find that the pavés underneath it were in perfect state," school director Jean-Marie Dubois told L'Equipe. "We replaced only one of them!"

During the last year, the non-profit association 'Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix' has restored 27 tons of pavé (each cobble weighing about one kilogram), moving them from one location to another. As an example, the stones on which Jean Forestier rode to victory in 1955 had been taken away from Péronne-en-Mélantois long ago, and were now replaced on the sector of Bourghelles.

"The parcours seems in good shape compared to what I have seen some years," commented race director Jean-François Pescheux on Monday, while reconnoitring the course. "The work that has been done for several years now bears fruit. We managed to restore a good, rideable parcours so that Paris-Roubaix remains a cycling race."

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