Classic cobblestone roads of Porphyry and granite are a part of European cycling history that continues to the present day. Why do elite cyclists seek out the punishment these roads hand out? Why do mayors of small towns in Northern France and Belgium promote these old roads to the race organizers? Tradition and the desire to compete in the same manner as their heroes competed keep these events some of the most important in the world of professional cycling.
The race known as Paris-Roubaix is the toughest one day race on the pro cycling calendar. A Sunday in Hell, Hell of the North, whatever you want to call it, for many, it is the greatest single race in cycling. 28 sections of cobbles, many of them surviving since the time of Napoleon, leave the riders battered, bruised, dusty and frequently caked in mud. The first edition started back in 1896, according it as one of the oldest races in professional cycling. Only because it is even older than the Tour de France does Paris-Roubaix get away with inflicting such cruelty on its participants. Born in 1896, it can do this because it is a tradition and because cycling values its traditions, even when they're just plain mad. The terrain has led to the development of specialised frames, wheels and tires. Punctures and other mechanical problems are common and have often played a part in the results.
The cobblestone or setts are roughly laid in these old roads, not like the “smoother” versions found in Paris. See our blog about the Porphyry on the Champs Elysees. http://milestoneimports.com/company/blog/bid/38715/Porphyry-on-the-Champs-Elysees
Cycling's Paris Roubaix and the final round of the Masters Tournament fell on the same day this year. Both are monuments of their respective sports. Both feature iconic scenery and the trophies from each are coveted by their competitors. The trophy for the winner of this race is unique and is a reminder of the essence of this quest. A single sett or cobble has been the official trophy since 1977, and it is currently supplied annually by a family owned stonemason business from Orchies in northernFrance.
Photo Credit Hennes Roth
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