Paris-Roubaix 2023: timetables, favorites and how to watch

Road 06/04/23 17:00 Migue A.

Almost without time to savor the wonderful Tour of Flanders that Tadej Pogacar gave us, comes the end of the cobblestone season with the dispute of the third monument, undoubtedly the most iconic of all and one of those races that transcends the scope of the pure cycling fan. Paris-Roubaix arrives, where the great classicists will try to lick their wounds after the unappealable victory of Tadej Pogacar in Flanders.

Road to... the northern hell

The spring classics of the pavé come to an end with the climax that every year is the Paris-Roubaix, one of the craziest races that we can enjoy every season and where the alternatives change almost every minute of the race. A crash or a flat tyre that can put a rider out of contention for victory in other races, can be overcome here because everyone ends up with something happening to them at some point.

A race in which entering the breakaway of the day, far from being a move to be seen, can mean being in the fight for victory when the final stages arrive and where team tactics and any previous race reading often becomes wet paper. Welcome to the hell of the north.

Favorites to win

If there is one thing about Paris-Roubaix, it is that it is a very cruel race that does not always reward the strongest rider. How many names can we remember of cyclists who have deserved to win it and ended their career in this sport without being able to get the precious cobblestone.

Among the current cyclists that nobody can believe that they do not have this race to their credit are the two monsters of this sport, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, always favorites and who, for various reasons, have never been in the position to win Paris-Roubaix despite the fact that both have stepped on the podium of the velodrome of the French town.

If we had to choose, the top favorite would again be Mathieu van der Poel who is giving us an excellent spring after the victory in Milan-San Remo and being the only one to stand up to a relentless Tadej Pogacar in the Tour of Flanders. Paris-Roubaix is a perfect race for his corpulence and that raw power he boasts in cyclocross races when he sets the bike off and no one is able to follow him. However, he will have to pay more attention to the development of the race and not waste his strength in vain if he wants to finally add this monument to his collection.

Wout van Aert has to be as much or more of a favorite as he is, even though the Belgian has not been convincing this spring. He won the E3 Saxo Classic, although with a completely defensive tactic where at no time was he the strongest but just survived and imposed himself in the sprint. However, a couple of days later he gave a recital of power breaking the race alone in Ghent-Wevelgem, in a race that he would end up giving away to his teammate Christophe Laporte. In the Tour of Flanders, he was again limited to holding the pace set by Pogacar and Van der Poel until the latter's attack in Kruisberg finally broke him.

We have to keep an eye on Dylan van Baarle's recovery. The reigning winner of Paris-Roubaix could not take part in the Tour of Flanders because of the crash suffered the previous week during the E3 Saxo Classic and his presence in the Hell of the North has not yet been confirmed. In any case, we will have to see the effect that these days off may have had on his form.

We are curious to see what Filippo Ganna is capable of, and after his great second place in Milan-San Remo he has made no secret that Paris-Roubaix is one of his main objectives this spring. With a 35th place as the best classification of his three participations, Ganna has a physique and a capacity to move watts that make him a perfect rider to win this race, although against him it must be said that his technical mastery of the bike is a step below the specialists in cobblestone events, which may mean spending more forces than necessary in many moments of the race.

We will also have to keep an eye on former World Champion Mads Pedersen, who is having a great spring, offering alternatives in every race against riders with more legs than him and who in such an unpredictable race as Paris-Roubaix could have a chance to win despite not having achieved any outstanding position in this scenario.

In any case, let's not forget that Paris-Roubaix is a totally unpredictable race, and historically some riders who no one was counting on in the betting have won the race. In this second tier of riders who could take this race, we would have to include the Soudal-QuickStep riders who continue with their peculiar desert crossing. Among them, Kasper Asgreen is the one who has shown the best disposition throughout this month of classics and will surely try to be in front. The same can be said of Matej Mohoric for Bahrain-Victorious, who despite not having achieved the great form of last year, is always there.

Welcome to the North

There is little mystery about the Paris-Roubaix route which, except for minor modifications to pass or not to pass a particular section depending on the state of the cobblestones, remains practically unchanged edition after edition.

Contrary to what its name suggests, the race does not start from Paris as it did in its origins. For decades, the starting point has been in the town of Compiegne, some 100 kilometers north of the French capital.

The race starts with what is perhaps the most broken part of the route through a flat terrain but punctuated by small slopes, nothing serious but coupled with the wind that shakes the large open expanses that characterize the region makes the race tense from the first moment, especially because of how sweet it is to sneak into the breakaway here, since more than an extra wear is an advantage to be ahead when the cobblestone sections begin to make their appearance after the first 96 kilometers of the 256 that counts this 2023 edition of Paris-Roubaix.

In fact, so much is the struggle to get into the breakaway that there have been editions in which none has been able to forge, arriving the peloton grouped to Troisvilles, hard stretch of pavé that usually marks the beginning of the same. On this occasion, 29 sectors will have to be crossed for a total of 54.5 kilometers over the stones. By the way, an important fact: at the time of writing, the forecast for the weekend in the north of France announced a strong possibility of rain, which always adds to the toughness of a race as special as Paris-Roubaix.

Despite the fact that from this point on, the race continues to maintain a waiting pace, letting the wear and tear accumulate as a prelude to the first summit moment. At 95 kilometers from the finish, we reach the mythical forest of Arenberg, 2,300 meters of completely uneven cobblestones where the favorites come into action. The winner is not usually decided here, but often it separates the wheat from the chaff and it becomes clear who will not be in contention.

From here on, there are no tactics that can be used beyond the strength of each rider and the ability to minimize the wear and tear that the cobblestone sections generate in the body of the cyclist.
The next major point of attention is 48 kilometers from the finish, with the passage of the Mons in Pévèle, 3,000 meters of very hard cobblestones with the added difficulty of exposure to the wind and several 90º bends, usually slippery.

In any case, it should not be forgotten that in this race and at this point, a cut can occur almost anywhere because the forces are limited. Who does not remember Fabian Cancellara starting without warning on a flat stretch of asphalt to sentence the 2010 edition? If the race is still not broken, it will certainly be broken on the last five-star section, the famous Carrefour de l'Arbre, a 2,100-meter section that is preceded, almost without any distance between them, by a 4-star section such as Camphin en Pévèle, 1,800 m long.

A real war of attrition to decide which rider achieves the glory of winning the classic of classics on the Roubaix velodrome, an image capable of justifying the entire career of any cyclist.

How to watch Paris-Roubaix 2023

The importance of this event is reflected in the extensive coverage of the race. Of course Eurosport will once again provide full coverage, broadcasting the entire race from 10:30 a.m. until approximately 5:30 p.m. on Eurosport 1 channel, its digital platform and the associated GCN+ application.



Subscribe to our newsletter and receive all our news. Mountain bike, advice on training and maintenance of your bike, mechanics, interviews ...

You will be aware of everything!

¿Prefieres leer la versión en Español?

París-Roubaix 2023: horarios, favoritos y dónde ver