Christian Prudhomme and Thierry Gouvenou completed their annual reconnaissance of the route for Paris-Roubaix, inspecting each of the 29 cobbled sectors included in this year's 256.3km route and rating them using the traditional five-star system, with five stars awarded to the most difficult, treacherous roads.
The race hits the first of the 29 sectors after 93.5km at the usual spot in Troisvilles, the 2.2km stretch and the two subsequent roads in Briastre and Saint-Python all receiving three-star ratings. The next sector, the 3.7km road between Quiévy and Saint Python, is the first four-star of the race beginning after 111.5km raced.
The new Saint-Vaast stretch follows, rated at three stars and 1.5km in length, before the route resumes its familiar route.
The Trouée d'Arenberg (Arenberg Forest) is the first five-star section, and with warm, dry weather on tap, it will be somewhat less selective than in the wet.
There is still plenty of opportunity for mishaps with the dusty, slippery stones making up 54.5km of the route, however. The total is 500m fewer than last year, but the difference comes before Arenberg.
The other critical points are the Mons-en-Pévèle (km 208.5) and Carrefour de l'Arbre (km 240) sectors, the only other ones rated as five-stars.
In 2017, in similarly warm and dry conditions, the winning selection was made on the double Templeuve pave (sector 8), when world champion Peter Sagan suffered a puncture and eventual winner Greg Van Avermaet bridged up to a group of five chasing early attacker Daniel Oss.
Van Avermaet whittled the group down to just Sebastian Langeveld and Zdenek Stybar on the Carrefour de l'Arbre, but a determined Jasper Stuyven and Gianni Moscon bridged up to the leaders on the velodrome in Roubaix, making for a hectic final 200m. The race was won handily by Van Avermaet over Stybar, with Langeveld hanging on for third ahead of Moscon.
Sectors of Pave in the 2018 Paris-Roubaix
29 - Troisvilles (km 93.5 - 2.2 km) ***
28 - Briastre (km 100 - 3 km) ***
27 - Saint-Python (km 109 - 1.5 km) ***
26 - Quiévy (km 111.5 - 3.7 km) ****
25 - Saint-Vaast (km 119 - 1.5 km) ***
24 - Verchain-Maugré (km 130 - 1.2 km) **
23 - Quérénaing (km 134.5 - 1.6 km) ***
22 - Maing (km 137.5 - 2.5 km) ***
21 - Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 140.5 - 1.6 km) ***
20 - Haveluy (km 153.5 - 2.5 km) ****
19 - Trouée d'Arenberg (km 162 - 2.4 km) *****
18 - Hélesmes (km 168 - 1.6 km) ***
17 - Wandignies (km 174.5 - 3.7 km) ****
16 - Brillon (km 182 - 2.4 km) ***
15 - Sars-et-Rosières (km 185.5 - 2.4 km) ****
14 - Beuvry-la-forêt (km 189 - 1.4 km) ***
13 - Orchies (km 197 - 1.7 km) ***
12 - Bersée (km 203 - 2.7 km) ****
11 - Mons-en-Pévèle (km 208.5 - 3 km) *****
10 - Avelin (km 214.5 - 0.7 km) **
9 - Ennevelin (km 218 - 1.4 km) ***
8 - Templeuve - L'Epinette (km 223.5 - 0.2 km) *
8 - Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain (km 224 - 0.5 km) **
7 - Cysoing (km 230.5 - 1.3 km) ***
6 - Bourghelles (km 233 - 1.1 km) ***
5 - Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 237.5 - 1.8 km) ****
4 - Carrefour de l'Arbre (km 240 - 2.1 km) *****
3 - Gruson (km 242.5 - 1.1 km) **
2 - Hem (km 249 - 1.4 km) ***
1 - Roubaix (km 256 - 0.3 km)
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