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Avaunt Issue 5


Par Max Leonard - 4 mn

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Hell of the north

Avaunt considers how a gruelling race across the battle-scarred landscape of northern France became the most revered fixture on the professional cycling calendar.

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The start of the Paris-Roubaix in 1909, won by 21-year-old French rider Octave Lapize, who would also claim victory in 1910 and 1911. A fighter pilot in the French army, Lapize did not appear on the much depleted starting line in 1919, having been shot down over northern France two years earlier. (Image: Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Paris-Roubaix is perhaps the toughest and most beautiful of the Classics – the great one-day races that open and close the road cycling season in Europe. Known for the unique chaos of its pavés – stretches of often poorly maintained cobblestone farm tracks that lead for kilometres through the fields and forests of northern France – Paris-Roubaix demands daring, strength and luck. At any moment a wrong move can lead to a race-ending fall, broken bones and career-threat...

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