I’m fortunate enough to watch Paris-Roubaix in person this year. Any tips/suggestions? I’ll have access to a car and I’ll have a bike with me.
Given the planned weather conditions, you will probably have a lot of room to decide where to go. And since you’ll be motorized, you can even decide to go at multiple places during the race.
If you decide to go this way, obviously you have to pick one point early in the race, and another late, to give you time to leave the first and join the second.
Also it seems obvious that the best place to be for Roubaix is on a cobbled sector.
To have a great POV you can try to go up (there’s a bridge over Arenberg and another at Pont Gibus (Pont is french for bridge) but every photographer will do the same so even if it’s raining, it will probably be crowded.
The other proposal would be to go on the hardest sectors, since it means they will go (a little bit) slower, so more time to see and cheers them. Also more probability to witness a decisive moment in the race.
And for that, my guess would be the hardest sector : Mons-en-Pévèle. It has it all : nasty cobbles, 90° turns, downhill, uphill… and huge puddles. Not the easiest to access and not the most comfortable to be in (most of it is going through farming fields) but probably the best place to take advantage of Roubaix.
Finally, you can also decide to go to the Velodrome to watch the lap and a half they make at the end. But, I don’t know, ok it’s where the race is actually won, and you have crowds around, but there’s no cobbles, so what’s the point ? Also, I don’t know if it will be open this year due to Covid and what are the rules to access if it’s open.
Anyway, hope you enjoy it !
Personally I’m not decided yet if I’m game enough to spend hours under the rain. But living near Roubaix, I can change my mind quickly.
Carrefour de l’Arbre - They have a giant television set up at the end of the sector (next to the restaurant) you can therefore watch the race before walking back up the cobbles to a suitable point to watch the end game clatter through and head back up to the television to watch the finish. Loads of people, great atmosphere. We parked up in Camphin-en-pevele (easy) there are disco buses, fanclubs, etc. and its not too far to walk the sector (or many of the other farm tracks) to get to the Restaurant l’Arbre for the television.
Having covered Roubaix many times, it’s certainly possible to view at multiple spots and still make it to the finish. At least 2-3 I’d say.
The biggest sectors are the hardest to get in and out of (though maybe easier this year with fewer fans, not sure). I’d park on the periphery of the madness and then ride in, it’ll be faster to get out and get to the next sector.
Use the way the route twists back and forth to your advantage. The only way to cross the course is to get on the A23 which goes over it. So probably just try to stay on one side of the course or the other.
My suggestion: Hit the start, then sectors 29/28 (they are right next to each other), then Arenberg. Then you try to sneak into Beuvry la Foret (14) or Orchies (13) which are right next to the highway, then hop on the A23 again to the finish.
For the women’s race, I think you can only see it at the start, then once (hornaing will be insane) and then finish.
I did the sportive once (in 2016) and found that Arenberg was really hell - the rest was just really hard. But maybe the reason is that it was mostly dry but the cobbles in Arenberg were still wet so very slippery. I really thaught I was going to crash, maybe that is the reason Arenberg stroke me as the hardest one by far.