After Elisa Longo Borghini’s stunning solo win in Paris-Roubaix Femmes for Trek-Segafredo yesterday, it’s the turn of the men today – and road.cc’s Liam Cahill was at the start this morning snapping a few of the bike’s belonging to riders expected to fight for that coveted cobble and nameplate in the showers.
We’ll find out later this afternoon whether the winner’s bike is among them, or whether someone else will cross the line in the velodrome in Roubaix, arms aloft in triumph at the end of the track nicknamed the Queen of the Classics and, more ominously , the Hell of the North.
In the meantime, here are Liam’s pics of the bikes being ridden by Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Filippo Ganna, and there are loads more in the full gallery above, including those of 2017 winner Greg van Avermaet of AG2R-Citroen, more debutant Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers.
This is only the second time that Mathieu van der Poel has ridden Paris-Roubaix – the Alpecin-Fenix rider was third last year, when Sonny Colbrelli of Bahrain Victorious took an emotional triumph on a rain-soaked and mud splattered day in Northern France.
For years now, riders in Paris-Roubaix have carried an aide-memoire on their top tube or stem so they know exactly when the key seconds of pavé are coming up – here, the Alpecin-Fenix rider has highlighted the most difficult ones, which so often prove crucial to the result.
His nutrition plan for what many consider the toughest one-day race on the calendar is also outlined so he knows when to refuel. What’s the emoji after the exit from the Arenberg?
We’re wondering whether, on a day when due to the narrow roads making it near-impossible for team cars to get through, meaning they rope in as many staff and friends as possible to stand at the roadside holding up spare wheels or bins, it’s where dad Adri – himself winner of two Monuments, the Tour of Flanders and Liège – Bastogne – Liège and third at Paris-Roubaix in 1986 – may be waiting to hand over a bottle?
In contrast to van Aert’s trasditional tubeless tires (see below), van der Poel has gone for something less traditional in the shape of Vittoria Corsa Tubeless ready Graphene 2.0, launched in 2019 … and as 2004 winner Magnus Backstedt has been explaining to TV viewers, he’s not conviced tubeless are the ideal tire for this race, given the increased risk of puncture. Will van der Poel come to rue his choice?
This is the fourth time Wout van Aert has ridden Paris-Roubaix, finishing 22nd on his debut in 2018, 13th the following year and, after an 18-month gap due to coronavirus, seventh when the race returned in October last year.
Plot that as a graph, and the expectation from that steady progression would be that the Belgian champion will be the man on the top step of the podium later today …
Given the pounding the hands take from the pavement, many riders choose extra padding on the bars with two or even three layers of tape, as can clearly be seen on van Aert’s Cervélo here.
That A. Dugast tubular tire was developed specifically to withstand the rigors of Paris-Roubaix – the width we suspect is 25mm – and many teams choose to switch out their normal supplier for this one huge day of the year. In the past, Ambrosio rims were also favored, though here van Aert has stuck to a pair of deep-section Dura-Ace wheels.