Why the Czech Zdeněk Štybar Will Win the Bike Race Paris-Roubaix on Sunday

The Paris- Roubaix is a 253.5 km (157.5 mile) bike race that takes place this Sunday, April 12th.  The distance (which will be covered in about 6 hours) is not the scary part – not why people have nick-named it, “The Hell of the North.” It earns that moniker for two reasons:  1) When the Paris-Roubaix recommenced after World War I, Battlefields and rampant destruction still marred the villages along the route. 2)  These…Cobble Stones 024…Fifty-seven-point five km (35.7 miles) of cobblestones like these. These cobbles tear tires, become slippery when wet, and shake elite athletes’ bodies into jelly when not flinging them into spectators or ditches. This year, the 113th edition will be won by the Czech cyclist Zdeněk Štybar.  Why?  One could list many reasons.  He is a three-time World Champion in cyclocross, a muddy discipline of cycling that develops amazing poise, power, and agility.  This year, he won the Italian equivalent of the Paris-Roubaix, the Strade Bianche.  He achieved 9th in the Tour of Flanders a few days ago despite not being able to eat sufficiently – he rode so hard his temporary teeth rattled loose!  ( He lost his teeth in a bad race accident last year)  Finally, his country has many cobblestones; they are in the people’s psyche; they are in Štybar’s psyche. Actually, I believe a Czech should win the Paris-Roubaix every year; with cobblestones like the ones below, what excuse do they have?  (Except maybe they use bike paths and bike lanes instead…?)

Cobbles near St. Vitus' Cathedral

Cobbles near St. Vitus’ Cathedral

Cobbles on a disused street leading up to the Castle District.

Cobbles on a disused street leading up to the Castle District.

Imagine riding a road bike over this!

Imagine riding a road bike over this!

Grates and tram lines only make the riding more challenging.

Grates and tram lines only make the riding more challenging.

Beautiful views, brutal ride.

Beautiful views, brutal ride.

These hurt...

These hurt…

Appropriately for this article's subject, some of the worst cobblestones rest outside the French Embassy.

Appropriately for this article’s subject, some of the worst cobblestones rest outside the French Embassy.

Wet metal and stones.  Trams and cars and pedestrians... ahhhhhhh!

Wet metal and stones. Trams and cars and pedestrians… ahhhhhhh!

The cobbles in front of the toilet museum are some of the... in town.

Cobbles in front of a curious museum.

Good luck, Zdeněk!  If you’ve ridden around Prague, you should be ready to win Paris-Roubaix!

One thought on “Why the Czech Zdeněk Štybar Will Win the Bike Race Paris-Roubaix on Sunday

  1. I have always found it amazing how professional bikers deal with the tough conditions and just the overall rigorous training. Now that I know what the terrain is like in this instance, I want to cringe because it lives up to the name “Hell of the North”. I now have a new respect for those who deal with these conditions.

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