With Paris-Roubaix taking place this coming Sunday for the 112th time, ASO's Christian Prudhomme, Jean-Francois Pescheux and Thierry Gouvenou reconnned the pave that the race covers to finalise the organisers rating of the pave.
The 28 cobbled sectors in the race are rayed between one and five according to their length, the unevenness of the cobbles, the overall condition of the sectors and their location. There are three five star sectors in the 2014 edition.
The ratings of the sections change from year to year with the parcours unpredictable from one edition to the next. In 2014, three cobbled sectors are making their comeback to the "Queen of Classics" after several years of absence.
After 97.5km the race will hit the first of the pave at Troisvilles, which is a three-star, 2,200m sector and is a slight a deviation from last year's course which takes a detour through Solesmes, Saulzoir and then Famars.
The reconnaissance of the course showed that the pave of the Trouée d’Arenberg was covered with a layer of moss and grass that looks likely to increase the difficultly for the riders to negotiate the 2.4km sector.
Always a divisive point in the race, the Arenberg is followed “Pont Gibus" which includes several sections that the peloton will cover in the opposite direction during Stage 5 of this year's Tour de France.
Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour, also took the time during the reconnaissance to inaugurate the finish line of the July 9 stage in Wallers and he was quick to stress the cobbles will be an importance moment in this year’s Tour.
"Just like high-mountain climbs and tricky descents, cobblestones are one of the specialities of cycling. It makes sense for them to feature in the Tour de France every now and then. Indeed, the last time we dropped by, in 2010, turned out to be a thrilling stage," Prudhomme said of the stage won by Thor Hushovd which also saw Franck Schleck abandon the race after breaking his collarbone.
After the dreaded forest of Arenberg, the peloton will still have two five-star sectors left in the race with the sectors of Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l'Arbre sure to further cause selections in the peloton although once again, if the cobbles fail to make the race too hard, the velodrome will decide the victor.
The 28 cobbled sectors of Paris-Roubaix are rated between one and five stars
28 - Troisvilles (97.5km - 2,200 m) +++
27. Viesly (104km - 1,800 m) +++
26 - Quiévy (106.5km - 3,700m) ++++
25 - Saint-Python (111km - 1,500m) ++
24 - Solesmes (119.5km - 800m) ++
23 - Saulzoir (126km - 1,200m) ++
22 - Verchain-Maugré (130.5km - 1,600m) +++
21 - Quérénaing - Famars (135km - 1,200m) ++
20 - Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (140.5km - 1,600m) +++
19 - Haveluy (153km - 2,500m) ++++
18 - Trouée d'Arenberg (161.5km - 2,400m) +++++
17 - Wallers - Hélesmes, aka "Pont Gibus" (167.5km - 1,600m)
16 - Hornaing (174.5km - 3,700m) ++++
15 - Warlaing - Brillon (182km - 2,400m) +++
14 - Tilloy - Sars-et-Rosières (185km - 2,400m) ++++
13 - Beuvry-la-Forêt - Orchies (191.5km - 1,400m) +++
12 - Orchies (196.5km - 1,700m) +++11. Auchy-lez-Orchies - Bersée (202.5km - 2,700m) ++++
10 - Mons-en-Pévèle (208km - 3,000m) +++++
9 - Mérignies - Avelin (214km - 700m) ++
8 - Pont-Thibaut (217.5km - 1,400m) +++
7 - Templeuve - Moulin de Vertain (223.5km - 500 m) ++
6 - Cysoing - Bourghelles (230km - 1,300m) ++++
Bourghelles - Wannehain (232.5km - 1,100m) +++
5 - Camphin-en-Pévèle (237km - 1,800m) ++++
4 - Le Carrefour de l'Arbre (240km - 2,100m) +++++
3 - Gruson (242km - 1,100m) ++
2 - Hem (249km - 1,400m) ++
1 - Roubaix (256km - 300m) +