Rabu, 13 April 2011

Bicycle Tour Paris–Roubaix 2011 - FRANCE

There are races to suit all tastes.
In cycling mythology, Easter Sunday is regarded above all as a day for road racers. With a route of "just" 280 km in 1896, the youngest born of the great French classics paled into insignificance alongside Bordeaux-Paris and Paris-Brest-Paris. However, this race, from Porte Maillot in Paris to the Velodrome in Park Barbieux in the French town of Roubaix, has now taken on legendary status.

Over the years, it has become an annual pilgrimage for devotees of hard graft. With guaranteed thrills and spills, obstacles and twists of fate, all efforts are focused on staying in the race. Paris-Roubaix is still, as in pre-war days, a contest of strength, reserved for acrobats on two wheels. It's the ultimate cycling race for surpassing your own limits.
The Trouée d'Arenberg and the Carrefour de l'Arbre have resisted the lure of tarmac. The pack's annual pilgrimage is an action-packed, hair raising affair. With a series of punctured tyres, broken forks, and even wrists. Visions of men, champions, emerge from overwhelming mud and dust. At the heart of this arduous test, these misshapen and unforgiving cobbles make or break individual fates. It has become a priceless symbol, which riders struggle to capture with contorted features and grim determination. On certain blessed days, the lead rider may even feel a guiding hand: "I was walking on water, just like Jesus", said the late Franco Ballerini in 1995, after his first victory at Roubaix. As long as we have cobbles…


Paris–Roubaix is one of the oldest races of professional road cycling. It was first run in 1896 and has stopped only for two world wars. The race was created by two Roubaix textile manufacturers, Théodore Vienne (born 28 July 1864)[3] and Maurice Perez.[4] They had been behind the building of a velodrome on 46,000 square metres at the corner of the rue Verte and the route d'Hempempont, which opened on 9 June 1895.[5]
Vienne and Perez held several meetings on the track, one including the first appearance in France by the American sprinter Major Taylor, and then looked for further ideas. In February 1896 they hit upon the idea of holding a race from Paris to their track. This presented two problems. The first was that the biggest races started or ended in Paris and that Roubaix might be seen as too provincial a destination. The second was that they could organise the start or the finish but not both.
They spoke to Louis Minart, the editor of Le Vélo, the only French daily sports paper. Minart was enthusiastic but said the decision of whether the paper would organise the start and provide publicity belonged to the director, Paul Rousseau.[6] Minart may also have suggested an indirect approach because the mill owners recommended their race not on its own merits, but as preparation for another. They wrote:
Dear M. Rousseau, Bordeaux–Paris is approaching and this great annual event which has done so much to promote cycling has given us an idea. What would you think of a training race which preceded Bordeaux–Paris by four weeks? The distance between Paris and Roubaix is roughly 280km, so it would be child's play for the future participants of Bordeaux–Paris. The finish would take place at the Roubaix vélodrome after several laps of the track. Everyone would be assured of an enthusiastic welcome as most of our citizens have never had the privilege of seeing the spectacle of a major road race and we count on enough friends to believe that Roubaix is truly a hospitable town. As prizes we already have subscribed to a first prize of 1,000 francs in the name of the Roubaix velodrome and we will be busy establishing a generous prize list which will be to the satisfaction of all. But for the moment, can we count on the patronage of Le Vélo and on your support for organising the start?[7]
The proposed first prize represented seven months' wages for a miner at the time.[8]
Rousseau was enthusiastic and sent his cycling editor, Victor Breyer, to find a route.[9] Breyer travelled to Amiens in a Panhard driven by his colleague, Paul Meyan. The following morning Breyer - later deputy organiser of the Tour de France and a leading official of the Union Cycliste Internationale - continued by bike. The wind blew, the rain fell and the temperature dropped. Breyer reached Roubaix filthy and exhausted after a day of riding on cobbles (setts). He swore he would send a telegram to Minart urging him to drop the idea, saying it was dangerous to send a race the way he had just ridden. But that evening a meal and drinks with the team from Roubaix changed his mind.[10]



bey 15 April 2011 16.49  

This tour would be fun to watch! :)

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