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Paris-Roubaix without Arenberg forest?

The chase group powers through the Arenberg forest

The chase group powers through the Arenberg forest (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

The mythical cobblestone sector of Wallers-Arenberg could again be omitted of the Paris-Roubaix race route. At the announcement of the Challenge Paris-Roubaix, a cyclosportive planned by race organiser ASO for next year, event director Joel Lainé released the information that should not become official until the announcement of the 2011 Paris-Roubaix route on December 15.

"We're not going to ride the Arenberg forest because the pros won't be passing over this sector, either," Lainé told Belgian Het Nieuwsblad.

Race director Jean-François Pescheux neither denied nor confirmed this. "We're able to do without Arenberg," he told La voix des Sports. "It would not have consequences on the competition. We can include other pavé sectors and skip Arenberg. But nothing will be decided before December 15."

The famous Arenberg forest passage, 2.4km long, is a key cobblestone sector in the 'Hell of the North'. Coming with 90 kilometres to go before the Roubaix velodrome, it has been included in the race since 1968. It was omitted only three times since then: in 1976, 1983 and 2005, when it needed to be restored.

Five years ago, Arenberg had been replaced by the Chemin des Postes between Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes and Famars (2.6kms long), and this is exactly what Pescheux could have in mind once again.

"I've always said that the Paris-Roubaix route doesn't have to be set in stone, that we will do race editions without Wallers-Arenberg and maybe even with the Chemin des Postes. What we do have planned for 2011 is to take one or two sectors away after Vertain, in order to cut down kilometres and arrive more quickly in Aulnoy."

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