Mons-en- Pévèle

It may not have the bru­tal rep­u­ta­tion of some its sib­ling sec­tors, but this stretch of cob­bles can still de­ter­mine the out­come of the whole race

Cyclist - - Paris - Roubaix | Insight -

‘If you get through here, you’ve re­ally made it to the “fi­nal” of ParisRoubaix,’ says Mitchel­ton-scott’s Mat Hay­man, ‘al­though there is still a way to go.’

And Hay­man should know: the Aus­tralian names the 3km sec­tion of cob­bles at Mons-enPévèle, which comes just 50km from the fin­ish in Roubaix, as key to his vic­tory here in 2016 – al­though it was also key to his fail­ure to de­fend his ti­tle in 2017.

‘I lost it, I missed the move there last year,’ he ad­mits. ‘So of­ten it’s where the race re­ally gets bro­ken up, which means it’s nice to get off Mons-en-pévèle and be at the front, as you know you’re re­ally in the mix then.’

So much so that Hay­man points out that the first five riders off that sec­tion in 2016 – him, Tom Boo­nen, Ian Stan­nard, Sep Van­mar­cke and Ed­vald Boas­son Ha­gen – made up the top five at the fin­ish in Roubaix.

‘It re­ally is a very good in­di­ca­tor of how peo­ple are go­ing.’

While the fa­mous Aren­berg For­est and Car­refour de l’ar­bre sec­tors of pavé are never far from any­one’s lips when talk­ing shop about Paris-roubaix, Mons-en-pévèle, in­tro­duced into the race in 1978 and a reg­u­lar fea­ture ever since, may just be the most sig­nif­i­cant sec­tor you’ve never heard of. But you may well do an ‘oh yeah!’ when you’re re­minded that it was here in 2016 that Fabian Can­cel­lara was elim­i­nated from among Hay­man’s po­ten­tial ri­vals af­ter tak­ing a tum­ble – a crash that saw World Cham­pion Peter Sa­gan all-but bun­ny­hop one-footed over the Swiss rider’s bounc­ing bike and some­how stay up­right, rid­ing on as though noth­ing had hap­pened.

It’s also where, in 2006, Ge­orge Hin­capie busted his han­dle­bars (ac­tu­ally it was his steerer tube that snapped) and sub­se­quently his col­lar­bone in the re­sult­ing crash, leav­ing him sit­ting in the bor­der­ing field in dis­be­lief at what had just un­folded, shed­ding tears of pain mixed with tears of frus­tra­tion and the knowl­edge that it wasn’t go­ing to be the year that he bet­tered his se­cond place of 2005. And al­though he’d re­turn an­other five times for a crack at it – rid­ing the event a to­tal of 17 times dur­ing his ca­reer – se­cond was as good as it would ever get for the Amer­i­can, or in­deed any Amer­i­can.

For Can­cel­lara, though, there were hap­pier times on Mons-en-pévèle’s pavé in 2010 when he at­tacked – or ‘sim­ply’ rode away from – sole hanger-on Björn Leuke­mans to solo to the fin­ish for the se­cond of what would even­tu­ally be three wins at Roubaix (in­clud­ing twice do­ing the ‘Flan­ders-roubaix dou­ble’ in 2010 and 2013) be­fore his re­tire­ment at the end of the 2016 sea­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.