Stijn Devolder photo: Team Sky

Paris-Roubaix 2013: Ride the Crown

Paris-Roubaix 2013: Ride the Crown

by / / 94 posts

Was Paris-Roubaix the best of the Spring Classics in 2013? Milan-Sanremo was amazingly photogenic, Ronde van Vlaanderen was inevitable but Roubaix was just about perfect. We all prefer the wet and gray “This weather is good for us” Roubaix yet this race’s drama transcended the fine spring day in the North of France. There is no better way to understand why they are pros and we are not as when one watches the leaders burn secteur after secteur in the 53 x 17. Humbling is not a strong enough word.

With fifty kilometers left to race it was obvious Cancellara was not in his usual soul crushing form. He was riding a few groups back and not even dominating his own little pack. It was not going to be the Double. He was just another mortal, with no teammates and a lot of young bucks looking to leave him in the dust…and yet.

After a massive match burning rage he was in the lead group of four along with Stybar, Vanmarke, Vandenbergh. Two of the four were Quick-Step teammates. They hammered away toward the end of the Carrefour secteur. Vanmarke and Vandenbergh both looked strong as hell. Had Fabian not bridged up with Stybar spinning for his life right behind, those two big lads were riding away.

When they exited Carrefour it was just Cancellara and Vanmarke.

The evil lady luck was there, not to be ignored. First tempting Vandenbergh to the right gutter, inches from the spectators. He wobbled and his front wheel clipped a civilian. He was on the stones. Zdenek Stybar, moments later spooked to the left gutter and spectators, maybe clipped out of his left pedal for a second. He stayed up but the elastic had snapped. Zednek needed a good draft to stay with those men and he had lost it.

I have many beautiful memories of this race. I know how to adapt to this race, and I like the challenges it poses from a technical point of view but you need the luck. Sometimes it’s like an individual time trial though and along with luck you need to be smart. -F. Cancellara

Evil lady luck was in the gutters on Sunday. Always ride the crown.

// Racing // Technique

  1. @ChrisO

    @Cyclops Yes it’s the Cannondale Synapse… not sure what it is supposed to do. Even James Huang doesn’t seem to have found the right pseudo-scientific jargon for it yet.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/pro-bike-peter-sagans-cannondale-synapse-evo-hi-mod

    I do particularly like the caption: “There’s definitely some very radical shaping going on here.”

    With such penetrating insights you can see why he’s the Technical Editor.

    There is a limit to how many times any person can say “vertically compliant” in their life. He has run through his lifetime limit on a few of these. I used to think he had the best job ever-geeking over pro bikes all year long. Maybe it’s like being a Brazilian waxer…sounds genius until you do it for a long time.

  2. Seriously, Thats why im starting up a brazilian tweezing shop.  where each follicle is lovingly plucked in a 4 hour sufferfest

  3. @ChrisO I’m thinking (pure speculation) that it allows the seat tube to be thinner (fore/aft) for more ‘vertical compliance’ (@Gianni), yet Cannondale have effectively formed a triangle just above the BB, making that area within 6-7 inches of the BB extremely stiff laterally.  You effectively have a shit done of carbon in that area with respect to overall tube cross sectional area.  Basically keeping the power transfer high, but adding a bit of comfort in the saddle

  4. @ChrisO Marketing.

  5. @mcsqueak

    I like pizza.

    And corndogs, and tofu burritos. Just a observation………..

  6. @minion

    @unversio Looks like he might even be on the inner ring – although I remember Tommeke’s chainring combo from a few years back was a 53 tooth outer ring with a 44? 46 tooth inner ring? That was you had gears to spin quickly over the cobbles without looking like a sewing machine, and the big dog for the bits in between.

    I “liked” a 44 that I had mounted last Spring. I now have 52/42 on — and “like” it.

  7. The crown is the place to be, but after 4 or 5 hours on the pavé, that gutter starts looking awfully tasty. Especially at the speed those knuckleheads roll at!

    I am amazed at how fast they ride the carrefour; those are the worst stones of them all as far as I’m concerned.

    @unversio

    Museeuw asked if I was on a compact and I said no way, but that I was on a Belgian Compact. His buddy who was with us said, “Oh, you mean a 39?”

    Most Pros ride a 46 or 44 on Roubaix and a 41 (!) on Flanders.

  8. @scaler911

    And tofu po’boys. Seriously, just an observation.

  9. @mcsqueak

    I like pizza.

    Yes. Pizza IS good.

  10. can one of you that’s had your pave flower popped explain or shed light on why the pros prefer the tops/flats to the hooks/drops/hoods?  my poor rationale behind it is in case of an off, you dont smash up your hands and also to unload weight off the front…

  11. @Nate

    @ChrisO Marketing.

    Yep. A point of difference to attract attention. And it works.

    However, I can see how their design could allow some forward/aft flex for comfort, while still being strong in sideways rotation when putting the power down (an I-beam). But it still seems strange to remove material from the junction that all manufacturers seem to agree benfits the most from over-engineering.

    Maybe all the cool looking solutions in the top half of the frame have already been done?

    Anyway, it’s all done in an effort to force carbon fibre to act in the way that steel does naturally…

  12. @roger

    you dont smash up your hands and also to unload weight off the front…

    Yes, that is half of it and keeping a loose yet supple grip on the bars as the whole front end bucks and bounces in an almost uncontrolled manner. A lot of people like the drops. I liked the tops for both reasons. Also, there is not much reason to brake on the Roubaix course. Just easing up on the pedals brings you to a stand still fairly fast. Hanging on to the brake levers seems too sketchy. 

    You have to do this sometime Rodger, just so you know. 

  13. A useful side effect of attending the Keepers Tour is that I can now spell Museeuw…

  14. Excellent lead photo & nice write-up, Gianni! Even though it has only been a mere few days I think I forgot about some parts of the race. Maybe it was just so incredible my mind wasn’t able to hold it all in?

    I’m pretty pumped about these “comfort” race bikes being ridden by the HardMen more and more. Makes me feel better to have a LOOK 566, which I picked up because a) it was the only high(er) end LOOK in my Budgetatus range and I’ve always lusted after them b) I was having severe neck pain & thought the longer HT might help.

    Turns out it was staring at a computer monitor all day that wasn’t high enough. And I’ve alway lusted after them because my boyhood LBS had 1980s LOOKs decorating the walls and rafters.

    Now that Sagan & Cancellara are on ’em I feel totally cool & less like a major pussy on a “comfort” carbon race bike. Thanks, guys!

  15. Hang ’em up, lads. The Golden Tickets are pronounced dead.

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/04/bikes-and-tech/the-torqued-wrench-ambrosio-nemesis-wheels-expire-in-the-pro-peloton_281545

    (sorry if that was already posted on pg. 1, I’ve just gotten to this one)

  16. @frank

    @scaler911

    And tofu po’boys. Seriously, just an observation.

    Ha, I’ll never hear the end of that fucking po’boy!

  17. @Ron

    Hang ’em up, lads. The Golden Tickets are pronounced dead.

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/04/bikes-and-tech/the-torqued-wrench-ambrosio-nemesis-wheels-expire-in-the-pro-peloton_281545

    (sorry if that was already posted on pg. 1, I’ve just gotten to this one)

    Horseshit.  If the pros aren’t riding them, all the more reason we should continue to carry the torch.

  18. @Chris Of course we need to increase the dosage. How many times do we have to go over that?!

  19. @Nate@Ron Stuff the pros, I’ll keep riding mine until the Merckx turns up in the Molteni Volvo to take them away.

  20. @Ron Yep. That article made me decide conclusively that Caley Freitz is a fucking idiot. Sure, pros can smash wheels that cost more than two grand a pair over cobbles because they don’t pay for the things. The equation most riders make in terms of what equipment to buy for what situation quite often isn’t going to accommodate being such a fucking prat. If you read the article, the Nemesis wheels in the service course are seasons old. I wouldn’t trade a jar of piss for a pair of carbon wheels that had been used by a pro for a season, but I’d happily buy a pair of nemeiss wheels that are a few seasons old.

    Additionally, many of the riders would have been on endurance frames, with a considerable amount of comfort built in. So you can get a super smooth riding bike with a bucket of clearance for fat tyres, and put your hyper stiff aero carbon wheels on there and still get a reasonable ride. Fretz overestimated how much of the difference was caused by the wheels to make his point, whereas the wheels are still as unsuitable for the purpose as they ever were – unless you have a Roubaix, or Synapse, or whatever the fuck they were riding with custom geo and buckets of tire clearance. If you have a normal bike, that’s not a super compliant wonderbike, the nemesis is still a great choice.

    That and an entire continental team were on Nemesis rims, so he couldn’t have been looking that hard.

  21. @Chris

    @Chris Of course we need to increase the dosage. How many times do we have to go over that?!

    I’ve just read your profile and you can’t possibly be me, you sound like a fucking hippy so best we lay off the drugs for a bit.

    In the meantime, can you have a word with your parent about not checking whether your username was already in use and get them to chose another one for you.

  22. WRT to shoe condoms, they look awful. I bet shoe sponsors hate them.

  23. Totally off topic post – sorry…..but how the hell do I keep track of posts on the site? Can I search against quote #.  Sorry guys, but struggling a bit and feeling like dullard.

  24. Love the tone of this write up!  Chapeau..great writing!

  25. @Mike_P

    Totally off topic post – sorry…..but how the hell do I keep track of posts on the site? Can I search against quote #. Sorry guys, but struggling a bit and feeling like dullard.

    I know what you mean and I have never found the answer….I have just kind of learned to live in the present in a never ending stream of short lived memories!

    Having said that (and I am sure you alread know this, but just in case) on the right of the screen if you click the poster you will go his his or her avatar and can see/track what they have been posting.  If you click the post name it will take you to the latest comment that person has made on that particular post and you can scroll back up…

    (Granny/Eggs, forgive me)!

  26. @Mike_P You can also click the @name in posts to jump to the post that is being replied to or quoted.

    Other than that, I think the site is designed so that the best way to keep up to date is to spend all of your non riding, non race viewing time on the site.

  27. @Mike_P

    Totally off topic post – sorry…..but how the hell do I keep track of posts on the site? Can I search against quote #. Sorry guys, but struggling a bit and feeling like dullard.

    Click on @MENTIONS and @REPLIES for name checks on yourself and replies to your comments…

  28. @Deakus no granny or egg worries at all. Cheers!

  29. @Chris thanks!

  30. @the Engine Thanks.  Rescued from my own ineptitude!

  31. Back to the title of this article, the crown was indeed the only place to ride P-R. I did the 170km Paris-Roubaix Challenge on Saturday. Rode down to the gutters twice for some relief from the pounding, and flatted both times. That’s where the shards from the cobbles collect.

  32. @Fast4fortysix Strong work, 130km had me in bits but it’s strangely addictive. When I got off the bike last year I was glad I’d done it but thought I’d never do it again. Within a week I’d started to think that I could have done it better so I had to go back. Having done it again, I’m pleased that I improved on last time but there’s an annoying voice in the back of my mind (no not @Chris) telling me that I really ought to go and do the full 260km or whatever the pros race.

    No matter how much it hurts at the time, it’s a fucking beautiful race.

  33. @the Engine The @mentions functions does seem to struggle differentiating between me, @chrisO and my hippy alter ego/stalker.

  34. @Gianni and @Chris, P-R was beautiful this year and great read (including mildly spicy commentary). I was feeling bad for Stybar after his gutter encounter, but you’re right: “…the elastic had snapped. Zednek needed a good draft to stay with those men and he had lost it.” 

  35. I’ll confess to owning a pair of toe covers. In my defense, they aren’t the stupid wee things illustrated here but ones that loop around the heel. That being said, I never wear them by themselves, beligan booties go over the top. I find the combo works well on the cool days when full overshoes are too much.

  36. Of course, this whole issue of shoe condoms raises the question: will we see Spartacus wearing shoes with no covers this year? His covers say Gaerne, but what kind of shoes is he actually using?

  37. Re shoe condoms: has anyone explained why one wouldn’t instead wear a pair of DeFeet Slipstreams on a day that felt cool to the piggies but didn’t warrant full booties? And look a lot more fantastic?

  38. @wiscot Faboo wears Gaerne’s https://twitter.com/f_cancellara/status/322007964636557312/photo/1

    And maybe we should just declare a general amnesty now, for all who confess up front to wearing toe condoms then no sanctions now, but god help you if we find out later on

  39. @Nate

    @Ron

    Hang ’em up, lads. The Golden Tickets are pronounced dead.

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/04/bikes-and-tech/the-torqued-wrench-ambrosio-nemesis-wheels-expire-in-the-pro-peloton_281545

    (sorry if that was already posted on pg. 1, I’ve just gotten to this one)

    Horseshit. If the pros aren’t riding them, all the more reason we should continue to carry the torch.

    @minion

    @Ron Yep. That article made me decide conclusively that Caley Freitz is a fucking idiot. Sure, pros can smash wheels that cost more than two grand a pair over cobbles because they don’t pay for the things. The equation most riders make in terms of what equipment to buy for what situation quite often isn’t going to accommodate being such a fucking prat. If you read the article, the Nemesis wheels in the service course are seasons old. I wouldn’t trade a jar of piss for a pair of carbon wheels that had been used by a pro for a season, but I’d happily buy a pair of nemeiss wheels that are a few seasons old.

    Additionally, many of the riders would have been on endurance frames, with a considerable amount of comfort built in. So you can get a super smooth riding bike with a bucket of clearance for fat tyres, and put your hyper stiff aero carbon wheels on there and still get a reasonable ride. Fretz overestimated how much of the difference was caused by the wheels to make his point, whereas the wheels are still as unsuitable for the purpose as they ever were – unless you have a Roubaix, or Synapse, or whatever the fuck they were riding with custom geo and buckets of tire clearance. If you have a normal bike, that’s not a super compliant wonderbike, the nemesis is still a great choice.

    That and an entire continental team were on Nemesis rims, so he couldn’t have been looking that hard.

    I LOVE the fire, lads! I wasn’t agreeing with that article, just puttin’ it up there. Yeah right, as if we should all hang up our nice Al wheels. I don’t think there is anything nicer looking that some low profile Al wheels on a classic steel bike or even a modern carbon one.

  40. @wiscot

    I’ll confess to owning a pair of toe covers. In my defense, they aren’t the stupid wee things illustrated here but ones that loop around the heel. That being said, I never wear them by themselves, beligan booties go over the top. I find the combo works well on the cool days when full overshoes are too much.

    Wise words…I use Mavic shoe condoms (toe covers), I was always taught to wear a “french letter”!  In my defence also they are never worn au naturale, but hidden under a pair of Assos overboots and only in the coldest of cold weather (sub zero deg C)

  41. @Ron

    I LOVE the fire, lads! I wasn’t agreeing with that article, just puttin’ it up there. Yeah right, as if we should all hang up our nice Al wheels. I don’t think there is anything nicer looking that some low profile Al wheels on a classic steel bike or even a modern carbon one.

    @Ron

    Yeah where bang-for-the-buck is concerned at the consumer level, it’s hard to beat alu hoops. Mine were $600 and only weigh about ~1350g. Plus I don’t go fast enough to get any benefit from deep carbon rims.

  42. @Deakus

    @wiscot

    I’ll confess to owning a pair of toe covers. In my defense, they aren’t the stupid wee things illustrated here but ones that loop around the heel. That being said, I never wear them by themselves, beligan booties go over the top. I find the combo works well on the cool days when full overshoes are too much.

    Wise words…I use Mavic shoe condoms (toe covers), I was always taught to wear a “french letter”! In my defence also they are never worn au naturale, but hidden under a pair of Assos overboots and only in the coldest of cold weather (sub zero deg C)

    Charles de Gaulle had Latin writing on his hat because he’d have looked stupid with French letters on it…likewise my (slightly charred) Bonts say “Bont” in Australian and will not be sullied by letters from France.

  43. I must confess to owning toe condoms, they do indeed look shiddy and like Stijn, black on top of white ladies looks worse than numb toes feels. I shall consign them to the box of forbidden things where they will join the EPMS, the clip-on peak for the helmet and the Livestrong Oakleys.

  44. @Cyclops

    There’s a part of me that yearns to make a KT and ride the storied cobbles and yet there is a little voice in my head that is whispering “Don’t do it. You’ll embarrass the hell out of yourself.” I’m conflicted.

    Me too, keen for the company and good imes, but I’m afraid whatever training I do, I’d be the in the dust. I’m resigned to organising a solo tour, 10 years from now when maybe I can afford it…

  45. Great write up and an awesome race!

  46. @Beers

    @Cyclops

    There’s a part of me that yearns to make a KT and ride the storied cobbles and yet there is a little voice in my head that is whispering “Don’t do it. You’ll embarrass the hell out of yourself.” I’m conflicted.

    Me too, keen for the company and good imes, but I’m afraid whatever training I do, I’d be the in the dust. I’m resigned to organising a solo tour, 10 years from now when maybe I can afford it…

    It’d be one thing to say you’d love to do a KT but can’t afford it but to whine about not doing it so you won’t embarrass yourselves demonstrates an astonishing lack of V. Man the fuck up.

    I’m not a particularly strong or fast rider and I don’t have as much time to ride as I’d like but as hard as the ride is it’s completely achievable if give yourself enough time to train properly.

    @Cyclops you could even build yourself a new bike for the event.

  47. @Chris

    @Beers

    @Cyclops

    There’s a part of me that yearns to make a KT and ride the storied cobbles and yet there is a little voice in my head that is whispering “Don’t do it. You’ll embarrass the hell out of yourself.” I’m conflicted.

    Me too, keen for the company and good imes, but I’m afraid whatever training I do, I’d be the in the dust. I’m resigned to organising a solo tour, 10 years from now when maybe I can afford it…

    It’d be one thing to say you’d love to do a KT but can’t afford it but to whine about not doing it so you won’t embarrass yourselves demonstrates an astonishing lack of V. Man the fuck up.

    +1

    I just can’t afford it, either in currency or brownie points.

  48. @ChrisO Or is it just that you can’t fit it into your busy pro schedule?

  49. @frank

    @scaler911

    And tofu po’boys. Seriously, just an observation.

    Have you been helping Castelli with their product naming?

  50. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p018t8yx

    Fun video from the BBC following a group on the short version of the amateur P-R.

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