Paris-Roubaix, a one-day bicycle race in northeastern France, is known as “The Hell of the North” for good reason. Although the course is somewhat flatter than the other spring classics, it includes interminable stretches of muddy farm roads paved with rough-hewn cobblestones. The cobbles alone are enough to shake bikes and bones to bits; throw in the notoriously fickle weather, which often includes rain, snow, and driving wind, and the course becomes downright treacherous. Held the third Sunday in April since 1896, Paris-Roubaix is a race of great tradition. The race follows a 270-kilometer course between the suburbs of the French capital and the northern industrial city of Roubaix, and its long history, coupled with its proximity to the cycling-mad triangle of northern France, Belgium, and Holland, means that it has served over the years to confirm the fame of cycling’s greatest champions.
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