Highest point: 53m
Since the route was announced last October, this 155km stretch has probably been the most talked about. While shorter than the last cobbled stage to feature in the Tour, by quite some margin, in fact, it has managed to pack in quite a few extra cobbles.
There are 15.4 kilometres of the rough French pavé for the riders to contend with. The section that could cause the biggest problems is the first, Carrefour de l’Arbe. The five-star section can often be the deciding factor at Paris-Roubaix and could easily throw a general classification rider’s race into turmoil.
The penultimate pavé sector, Wandignies-Hamage à Hornaing, is the longest of the entire race. This 3.7-kilometre section has a four star rating and is an ideal place to launch an attack, especially if your rivals are looking uncomfortable.
When the race hit the cobbles in 2010, it wreaked havoc in the peloton. Fränk Schleck managed to make it over two sectors before the third - Sars-et-Rosières – ended his race. His brother Andy fared better, using the wheel of Roubaix master Fabian Cancellara. Team-mates will be hugely important on this stage, if the GC boys hope to get through unscathed.
In terms of the stage victory, Omega Pharma-QuickStep will be one of the favourites, with reigning Paris-Roubaix champion Niki Terpstra in their midst. They will have to keep in mind their GC contender Michal Kwiatkowski.
Ry Curvers says... "This small Paris-Roubaix stage will cause a lot of stress for the GC riders. As the stage goes over some of Roubaix's heaviest cobbled sections, it will be a real classic type rider who wins - Degenkolb, Cancellara, Boonen, Terpstra etc.
When the race last visited the cobbles in 2010, it also finished at the Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. The man who won then was Thor Hushovd. The Norwegian rider hasn’t been at his best over the last two years, but looked supreme at the most recent edition of Paris-Roubaix. Can Hushovd get his career back on track here? He has Tejay van Garderen to look after, but this is a good personal opportunity for him.
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