Here are 10 reasons why the 257.5km spring Classic, Paris-Roubaix, is our favourite one-day race of the year. – By Whit Yost
1. Seeing Riders Take On the Cobblestones
Paris-Roubaix is by far the flattest of cycling’s five Monuments (the oldest, hardest, and most legendary one-day races in professional cycling), but don’t let that fool you: It’s the most punishing race on the calendar. The reason? About 53 kilometres of roads lined with cobblestones (called pavé), many of which are hundreds of years old.
These aren’t the decorative cobblestones you might find lining a suburban driveway. No, these are large stones―about the size of a baby’s head (in Dutch they’re actually called kinderkoppen, which means just that)―that look and feel as if they’ve been dropped into place from the sky. These stones give the race its character, and believe it or not, they’re an endangered species: A volunteer organisation called Les Amis de Paris Roubaix is dedicated to protecting them from re-paving and maintaining them so that they can be used in the race year.