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Paris-Roubaix 2012

KentPuncheurKentPuncheur Posts: 246
edited January 2012 in Pro race
Hi All,

New member here so please be gentle!!

I'm trying to organise a trip amongst friends to go and watch the Paris-Roubaix race this coming year. The plan would be to go a couple of days in advance to get some good day rides out of the trip, before watching the race itself. This would be my first live race event I have been to and as such I'm a little lost as to logistics on the race day itself. If anyone has been before can you please recommend good viewpoints along the route for us to stop at.

Also, can anyone recommend good campsites or gites in the area to stay that would be bike friendly.

Any help, tips, advice is more than welcome! Thanks guys...
2011 Trek Madone 3.1c
2012 Ribble 7005 Winter Trainer

Dolor transit, gloria aeterna est.


  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    Welcome to the site!

    I've never tried to watch Paris-Roubaix from the side of the road and I think you'll get by far the best view from the TV. I'm hoping to go this year and my plan at present is to watch it on the TV at the velodrome, rather than to stand along the route. Because it's an A to B race you have to get ahead of the riders, watch them pass and then drive ahead to see them further up, otherwise you only get one look, and they go by very fast! I've done this at several races around here and it's bad enough when you know your way around, especially with road closures as well. To get ahead of them on roads you don't know, with a lot of traffic about would be hard, I would think. If you don't want to go to the velodrome maybe just choose a location along the route (Arenberg, for example), watch them scream past, then go and find a bar to watch the rest. Other tips would be to pack lots of sandwiches, rain gear, something to pass the time while waiting, maybe even a little folding stool so you're not standing for ages.

    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • Hi

    These guys do an organised trip. I think you go ahead of the riders a few times from what I remember when I was considering going last year... ... is-roubaix


  • Get a road map and race route map and aim to get to several sections of pave - is do-able but hard and you'll need a good navigator. Get to the start, kick some tyres, take some photos, head off and do what you can do avoid traffic jams and road blocks. It's a great day out.
  • It's a pretty good race to see a multipe signings of, much easier than Flanders. How much you want to see depends of how brave you are. Last time I went with Sports Tours International we saw the race 6 times and they have a coach to get around the route.

    I would agree with what Rodrego says, get hold of a good map, this is the one your after, a road atlas won't be good enough, it won't have the sections of pave marked. ... 2758515012 or ... e=AAAAAA==

    Also if you are there for a few days in advance, why not ride in the morning then recce the route in the afternoon? Work out where you want to go and then actually drive to them beforehand? It will make it much easier on race day and you then also get a chance to see if any roads or motorway exits are signed as being closed.

    The start is pretty easy to get to, then I'd head to Troisville, where the route crosses the D843, and then work out where you fancy going from there. I would avoid Arenberg, the crowds are too big and you won't get a great view unless you walk deep into the forest. Same with the Velodrome, you'll need to get there early for a good spot.

    Don't know of any Gites or camping sites, I usualy stay in one of the chain hotels around Valenciennes, not sure I'd fancy camping at that time of year. But I'd also add that if you riding around the route on the Friday morning, head to Arenberg. Alot of the teams will be out checking out the course and most start their rides at or near Arenberg. Might see you there, I'm planning on going again next year!
  • OK much of what I am about to say will depend on the size of the vehicle you use. Lets' assume that it's a people carrier or large estate car.
    On Friday go to either Arenberg or Carrefor de L'Arbre you'll see lots of Pros on final tests. This is Good Friday in 2012 so campsites may be full.
    On Saturday go to Compiegne by lunch time as the start promos begin at about 2-30 with the Team Presentation. Park as far away as safe, bearing in mind you will have bikes and THERE WILL BE THIEVES ABOUT. Deliberate caps.
    The presentations take place outisde the Palace at the Avenue Royal, some Team buses park close some park at the large roundabout a kilometre or so along the avenue.
    Check Google maps and you'll see.
    Check web site as sometimes the Team hotels are listed. If not use saturday morning to check out the local Novotel, Campanile etc.
    Go to the hotels after the presentations and you will see final prep. I watched one rider spend 20 minutes checking his saddle height in 2004, it was fascinating. Mind-bogglingly boring for anyone else but I loved it.
    He was previous winner so you get to understand how important comfort is on the day.
    On Sunday morning park where you did the previous afternoon in the direction you will be leaving. If you park at the end of the avenue royal you may not be blocked in.
    Aim to see everything but leave about 15 minutes before the start. Check the web site in case the start time has changed owing to the weather, remember the small caravan leaves about 15 mins before race start
  • Dai BankDai Bank Posts: 10
    edited January 2012
    I'll post in small batches.
    OK after you have left go to the start real about 2ks out of town next to a roundabout. You can get this off the intinerary and plot on Google maps. Or if you're flush buy the IGN maps they are fantastic.
    Park off the main road by the roundabout, as soon as the flag drops a group will go to try and form the break, they always do, the speed will astonish you, so will the insults from the peloton. It will pass in about a minute so get back to the car and then on to the autoroute to Cambrai and head for Troisvilles. Drive fast and to the limit because the world and his wife is heading with you especially French Team cars who will pass you at warp speed. Some buses might too lol.
    Getting around Cmbrai is OK but use the northern route it's quicket than the southern route.
    You are heading to Troisvilles
  • Now at troisville syou have a few choices.
    1 The start of the pave.
    Park to the right of the pave start to leave early.
    The fighting at the start takes place about 50 metres before the start and you will see elbows, bunnyhopping over kerbs and all sorts.
    2 The middle
    The stage crossed the main N road so you want to be beyond the buildings and park up the slight rise. Couple of choices here.
    It's downhill to the main road, it's fast and there will be break away so you want to be parked ready to disappear if the break is longer than 5 minutes as this will affect your choices of later stages.
    on the northern side it's a slight rise to a 90 dgree off camber left hander. The world's press will be here and so will everybody else. It's about a k walk back to the main road and you will then hit traffic and against team cars flying along at 100k per hour along the pave. It will be dangerous.
    3 the end of Secteur 1
    Park in Inchy
    You will be delayed here after the race so again this is the choice if you want to miss Arenberg and Orchies later BUT
    the end of the pave is downhill and there are massive ruts just before the downhill and you can see for a good k down the hill and up a slight rise.
    You could also walk to the 90 deg bend in 2 above.
    Leaving the secteur back along the route walking is very dangerous as team cars come off the pave onto tar at 100kph+ and are very unstable. There is a tarmac 90 right at the nd of some houses and in 2005 I saw an Espace, a team car and 2 motorbike gendarmes all trying to get around the bend using the same piece of tarmac. I swear the team car with a dozen bikes was on two wheels. Twas brilliant!
  • That's enough for now
    but your choices after Troisvilles depend on 1, 2 or 3,
    If 1 you can do the short uphill at Hameau du Buat, Arenberg start, Orchies and then Arbre but you will have to know the roads and be comfortable with quick driving and be ready to leave immediately the first riders pass and not wait for the peloton.
    For a first time I would then aim for L'Arbre as you should get there in time to see the juniors and watch all the drunken Belgians. If you are lucky you may het invited in to one of the Marquees and you will see the race on TV and then out to see the live bit and back for the final on TV.
    You will want to park as close the the Autoroute E42 as you dare although if you are OK driving along pave you can get into the middle of secteurs 4 and 3 but again you will have to leave fairly quickly after the first bunch or two of riders or you will be stuck here for hours, at least 1 sometimes as long as 3!
    If you want I'll add more but there's enogh to be going on with lol
    I too hope to be there, I'll be the mad fool driving at 10/10ths
  • I've had to rejoin as site wasn't letting me in hence the newbie references
  • BurghleyBurghley Posts: 412
    Having done Paris Roubaix about seven times in previous years, we have decided not to bother any more, because realistically you can only get to three or four spots at most nowadays as there is so much (dangerous) traffic and frequent jams.

    Last time we prepared well and stayed at the Mercure Hotel Compeigne for two nights beforehand and shared it with three teams. Watching the mechanics prep the bikes, the banter between the riders etc. was great fun. Also good to see them all quiet and thoughtful before they left for the start (except Fabian who always looked bright and cheerful).

    Well worth going to the presentation though, and also good at the start.


    miles more cycling comfort
  • Guys thanks so much for all your comprehensive help and advice, I'll let you know what we end up doing and how it went.
    2011 Trek Madone 3.1c
    2012 Ribble 7005 Winter Trainer

    Dolor transit, gloria aeterna est.
  • chrisdaychrisday Posts: 300

    Me and a mate who do annual boozy weekend trips to Classics have finally reached P-R!
    I was wondering, from those of you with 'the knowledge' - is it possible to base yourself somewhere like Lille, and make it out to a later sector of pavé via public transport, or are they far enough out in the sticks that you have to have a car?

    @shraap | My Men 2016: G, Yogi, Cav, Boonen, Degenkolb, Martin, J-Rod, Kudus, Chaves
  • neil²neil² Posts: 337
    This is great stuff, we are also going this year with the kids. My 10 year old said he really wanted to go and watch P-R this year. He wasn't even prompted... chapeau!

    So... Compiegne for the t-15 mins start, then out to the first roundabout.

    From there, we want to get well ahead to some cobbles. I need a safety margin on time, bearing in mind my youngest will be 7 and so we can't guarantee high speed course-to-car transfers, and I don't want to drive like a maniac. Where would you recommend? Do you think it is possible to get to two further spots?

    Thanks - this is our first time to the classics and I need to give everyone a cracking day out... then we might be able to go again next year!
  • Chris it's a Sunday in France and Easter Sunday to boot so I doubt that any local public transport will be available. Taxi perhaps to get to l'Arbre but you won't get any taxis back until at least 3 to 4 hours after the race has finished.
    There is an Auberge at Orchies just to the south of the Autoroute interchange and you can walk over the bridge to the pave. We used to stay there when the roubaix mtb race was on, it was good but it's a good few years ago.
  • Neil
    Try and do the presentation on the saturday from about 2 pm it's well worth it.
    On the sunday I would do the start, kmO then Pave sector 1 at Inchy. There's a great viewing point that's well up off the road on either side. That's important because you want to be on the correct side if it's dusty so you don't get covered.
    Wait until the whole peloton and the caravan has passed and then go back to the autoroute at Cambrai and take your time to travel to Carrefour de L'Arbre. I suggest the autoroute so you can make any pitstop required at a reasonable services rather than just go alongside the route as most frenchmen, and women, seem prepared to do!
    Most, likely, winners seem to put the hammer down on the sector before the L'Arbre (4?) rather than on the Gruson sector so I would aim for that. There is a rough track that will take you into the middle of either sector but it will be easier to get away from the middle of sector 4 rather than Gruson-3.
    The itinerary is usually on the site about a fortnight before the event but as it's always by description of roads it might need a bit of interpretation to understand on google maps. Ask if you want nearer the time.
    Hope that helps.
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