Mathieu van der Poel leads the way in the Arenberg trench.

Chicanes before the Arenberg? Paris-Roubaix organizers looking to reduce speed into five-star sector

The possible changes come in response to a request from the riders' union.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 03.04.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Just a few days ahead of Paris-Roubaix, organizers are looking into the possibility of adding chicanes to the route just before the entrance to the Trouée d’Arenberg, L’Equipe reports.

The proposed change has apparently been requested by the CPA, the professional riders’ union, as a way to reduce speeds heading into the iconic cobbled sector. The brutal road through the Arenberg forest, one of the marquee sections of pavé in the men’s event and one of three rated at five stars in difficulty, is traditionally preceded by a stretch of straight roads.

That means that the peloton usually tends to hit the cobbles at a blistering speed, adding another element of unease for the riders who already must pass through 2.3 km of very rough surfaces in the stifling – but packed with fans – Arenberg forest.

As L’Equipe reports, riders and organizers are hoping to change that for 2024, although they’ve left it late and thus have yet to implement a concrete solution.

“The principle is to find turns to slow down the peloton and lengthen it, a bit like the chicane system on automobile circuits,” race director Thierry Gouvenou said. “Currently, they are arriving at around 60 km/h in the Arenberg gap, if they could slow down to 30-35 km/h, it would be less risky. And that would highlight the difficulty of the gap because the riders would arrive without momentum.”

In an effort to make these changes, organizers are working with local authorities to find and incorporate roads into the route. Time will tell if the changes can be made by Sunday, when riders are expected to come barreling into the first five-star sector of the race at roughly around 3 pm local time.

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