Paris - Roubaix

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Why above all other classics is "La Pascale" venerated? At only around 260 kilometres it is not the longest of the classics (that distinction was held by the paced Bordeaux Paris); Paris - Tours is generally faster, the Tour of Lombardy has far and away a more beautiful setting; Milan - San Remo, coming at the beginning of the year, has a more eagerly anticipated build up, whilst some would have it that the Belgian Classics, and particularly Liège - Bastogne - Liège are physically the hardest. Yet Paris - Roubaix remains the classic above all others, exerting an almost talismanic grip on its devotees. Perhaps only the Tour de France can boast a more illustrious list of winners; even the World Championship has had more than its fair share of victors of dubious quality, but "jamais un cloche ne gagne la Pascale" - the Easter Race is never won by a tramp. Garin, Lapize, Pélissier, Leducq, Maes, Van Steenbergen, Coppi, Bobet, Van Looy, Gimondi, Merckx, De Vlaeminck, Moser, Raas, Kelly, Museeuw have all won the event. Even Bernard Hinault, who never disguised his loathing for such "lotteries", made sure he included the Queen of Classics on his palmarès first, outsprinting none other than Francesco Moser and Roger De Vlaeminck, winners of seven editions of the race between them.

Started in 1896 as a warm up for Bordeaux - Paris, the race has always been held on or about Easter Sunday, and has always featured the rough roads of the northern coal mining area. For many years it was the hill at Doullens which would cause the first splits (and also bring out the huge crowds), 150 or so kilometres into the route. Soon after the race would enter the infamous "l'enfer du Nord" - the hell of the North, where the succession of cobbles would pound all feeling from the tired limbs of the riders. The winner was often alone on the Roubaix velodrome; else he would be the one with most to spare as a small group settled into the last kilometre on the track, a finish further complicating the equation. Nonetheless, by the 1960s, rapid road improvements were causing wholesale replacement of the cobbled tracks, and the race was in danger of becoming the boring slog that Paris - Brussels became. Drastic measures were called for; in 1966 the start was moved to Chantilly, 50km nearer Roubaix, which allowed a more circuitous route to the finish, maximising the usage of those cobbles which remained. But it was 1968, following advice from local rider Jean Stablinski, that the route was truly revised, a route which saw 57 kilometres of cobbles, including for the first time the soon to be notorious Wallers - Arenberg forest. And the winner of such an heroic edition, clad in the jersey of World Champion, was none other than Eddy Merckx, winning for the first of three times. Still the roads were being tarmacced, so in 1977 the start was moved again, to its present location of Compiègne, with the inclusion of new cobbled stretches at Orchies, Landas, Saméon, Aix, Mouchin and Bachy. The new route did nothing to upset "Mr Paris Roubaix" himself, Roger De Vlaeminck: after achieving his fourth victory in six years, even Merckx was forced to admit, "I have never seen that before. Roger slipped over the cobbles as if he knew exactly where each cobblestone was".

The route has remained largely unchanged since, though in 1999, the traverse of Wallers - Arenberg is to be reversed, to avoid the mad 60 kmh sprint onto the cobbles which was widely blamed for Museeuw's terrible crash in 1998. Nonetheless, complacency mustn't set in, for every year there is another threat to the cobbles, and without the cobbles the soul of the race would disappear. Nor is just a reprieve sufficient: the cobbles must in places be renovated so that the race is not reduced to an anarchic cyclo-cross on a sunken track in a flooded field. As the writer René Fallet noted in 1979, "Fortunate climbers, your mountains will never be eroded. Cursed be those who destroy the cobbles and threaten redundancy to the De Vlaemincks of this world".



1896 Josef Fischer
1897 Maurice Garin
1898 Maurice Garin
1899 Albert Champion
1900 Emile Bouhours
1901 Lucien Lesna
1902 Lucien Lesna
1903 Hyppolyte Aucouturier
1904 Hyppolyte Aucouturier
1905 Louis Trousselier
1906 Henri Cornet
1907 Georges Passerieu
1908 Cyrille Van Hauwaert
1909 Octave Lapize

The pacing was by bicycle (1896, 1897), by car (1898 - 1900) and by bicycle again until 1909. Initially the pacing was for the whole race; for 1908 and 1909 it was as far as Beauvais, thereafter the race being run without pacing.


1910 Octave Lapize
1911 Octave Lapize
1912 Charles Crupelandt
1913 François Faber
1914 Charles Crupelandt
1915 Not held
1916 Not held
1917 Not held
1918 Not held
1919 Henri Pélissier
1920 Paul Deman
1921 Henri Pélissier
1922 Albert Dejonghe
1923 Henri Suter
1924 Jules Van Hevel
1925 Félix Sellier
1926 Julien Delbeque
1927 Georges Ronsse
1928 André Leducq
1929 Charles Meunier
1930 Julien Vervaecke
1931 Gaston Rebry
1932 Romain Gijssels
1933 Sylvère Maes
1934 Gaston Rebry
1935 Gaston Rebry
1936 Georges Speicher
1937 Jules Rossi
1938 Lucien Storme
1939 Emile Masson Jr.

Paris - Roubaix during the occupation: "Trophée Duralumin"

1940 Joseph Sofietti (Le Mans - Paris)
1941 Jules Rossi (Paris - Rheims)
1942 Emile Idée (Paris - Rheims)

Paris - Roubaix, unpaced

1943 Marcel Kint
1944 Maurice De Simpelaere
1945 Paul Mayé
1946 Georges Claes
1947 Georges Claes
1948 Rik Van Steenbergen
1949 André Mahé & Serse Coppi, tied
1950 Fausto Coppi
1951 Antonio Bevilacqua
1952 Rik Van Steenbergen
1953 Germain Derycke
1954 Raymond Impanis
1955 Jean Forestier
1956 Louison Bobet
1957 Fred De Bruyne
1958 Léon Van Daele
1959 Noël Foré
1960 Pino Cerami
1961 Rik Van Looy
1962 Rik Van Looy
1963 Emile Daems
1964 Peter Post
1965 Rik Van Looy
1966 Felice Gimondi
1967 Jan Janssen
1968 Eddy Merckx
1969 Walter Godefroot
1970 Eddy Merckx
1971 Roger Rosiers
1972 Roger De Vlaeminck
1973 Eddy Merckx
1974 Roger De Vlaeminck
1975 Roger De Vlaeminck
1976 Marc De Meyer
1977 Roger De Vlaeminck
1978 Francesco Moser
1979 Francesco Moser
1980 Francesco Moser
1981 Bernard Hinault
1982 Jan Raas
1983 Hennie Kuiper
1984 Sean Kelly
1985 Marc Madiot
1986 Sean Kelly
1987 Eric Vanderaeden
1988 Dirk Demol
1989 Jean Marie Wampers
1990 Eddy Planckaert
1991 Marc Madiot
1992 Gilbert Duclos Lasalle
1993 Gilbert Duclos Lasalle
1994 Andrei Tchmil
1995 Franco Ballerini
1996 Johan Museeuw
1997 Frédéric Guesedon
1998 Franco Ballerini
1999 Andrea Tafi
2000 Johan Museeuw, Mapei
2001 Servais Knaven, Domo - Farm Frites