Paris-Roubaix Preview: 'The Hell of the North' promises to be a monumental battle

The Hell of the North promises to be a thrill ride as there are four of five potential candidates that could take home the prize this Sunday.

Paris-Roubaix Preview: 'The Hell of the North' promises to be a monumental battle
Paris-Roubaix always provides a spectacle. (Image: SteepHill.tv)

This Sunday Paris-Roubaix brings down the curtains of the Spring Classics, as the riders will tackle some of the difficult pave sectors in professional cycling as they take in sectors from the Arenberg Forest to Carrefour de L’Arbre.

It’s a race not for the faint-hearted; there are usually thrills and spills, and with the weather forecast looking pretty grim, it’s going to be one hell of a muddy day in the saddle for the peloton. The 114th edition of the ‘Hell of the North’ promises to be a monumental battle, as there are plenty of riders vying for top honours. And then throw in some possibly history making, the watching public will be in for a treat.

Etixx-Quickstep’s Tom Boonen is going for his fifth Roubaix win whilst Fabian Cancellara is looking for his fourth win before retiring at the end of the season. And then on top of that Peter Sagan is aiming to join an illustrious set of riders by winning the Flanders-Roubaix double, but the Slovakian is attempting it whilst wearing the Rainbow Jersey.

Sagan looking to continue his impressive form

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider has really stepped up since winning the Rainbow Jersey; although he hasn’t won the amount of races he would have liked to, he has still been there or thereabouts.

But his win at Flanders last weekend was a mix of brute strength and perfect timing as he soloed to the line ahead of Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke.

His performances at E3 Harelbeke, Ghent-Wevelgem, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad were good, but he couldn’t find that winning formula until Flanders; but with his form up he heads into Roubaix as favourite.

Only a handful of riders have won Flanders and Roubaix in the same season, and if Sagan can cross the line first, he will join the likes of Cancellara and Boonen in that illustrious list.

As Oleg Tinkoff is leaving the sport at the end of this year, Sagan is available, so a good ride would show potential suitors what they could get; and with Sagan entering his peak years; the Slovakian is at the top of his powers; hence why he is one of the favourites this Sunday.

Write off Boonen at your peril

The 35-year-old had a rather quiet Flanders, mainly due to the fact that he was struggling with a wrist injury. But Roubaix is a race he enjoys, he has won it four times, and will be hoping he can win it for record fifth time.

Boonen is aiming for his fifth Roubaix crown. | Photo: BBC
Boonen is aiming for his fifth Roubaix crown. | Photo: BBC

Because of the performances of other rider such as Vanmarcke, Sagan, and Cancellara, the Belgium’s chance have been seemingly written off. But with his experience and tactical nous he could be the perfect candidate to surprise the young guns, and take what would be a historic win in the Roubaix velodrome.

It’s sure to be an exciting day; the riders face nearly seven hours in the saddle; which on smooth roads is barely bearable, but on cobbled sectors and steep climbs it’s suffering of an unheard nature.