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Extra security in place for Paris-Roubaix sector

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) gets encouragement from the rabid Flemish fans on the Carrefour de l'Arbre sector.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) gets encouragement from the rabid Flemish fans on the Carrefour de l'Arbre sector. (Image credit: AFP Photo)

It is one of the more important sectors of pave in Paris-Roubaix and it has attracted huge crowds of spectators, but this year police will be out in force to control reckless hooligans who have caused havoc at the Carrefour de l'Arbre.

According to AFP, new measures include a temporary ban on the distribution and consumption of alcohol inside a quadrant which incorporates the towns of Wannehain, Camphin-en-Pévèle, Baisieux and Gruson which surround the Carrrefour de l'Arbre.

The crossroads is the fourth to last sector of ancient cobblestone roads in the historic event, coming with 16km to go where the race is being won or lost.

Last year, Filippo Pozzato was chasing after eventual winner Tom Boonen when spectators on the 2.1km section of cobbles spat on him. The rowdy, drunken bystanders also broke the mirror off the Saxo Bank car and hit other cars in the caravan with fists, beer bottles and rocks.

The drunken mobs also laid waste to the area, camping along the route for days before last year's event, leaving behind piles of refuse and leading several town mayors to complain to the Amaury Sport Organisation, which runs the race. There were threats of forcing the organisers to re-draw the route to bypass their towns, but a compromise was reached allowing the ban on alcohol.

The local gendarmerie will also be sending out more than 100 police in the days leading up to the race to control the crowds, using a helicopter with a camera to help identify perpetrators of any incidents.

"The measures taken by the authorities are common sense measures because Paris-Roubaix has become a big party," said race director Christian Prudhomme, agreeing that the trend of fields being privatised and temporary taverns set up needed to end.