Paris-Roubaix: The Inside Story
All the bumps of cycling's cobbled classic
By Les Woodland
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Suggested Retail price: $16.95 US
6 x 9 trade paperback, 198 pages
Publisher: McGann Publishing
Publication date: February 8, 2013
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The Paris–Roubaix bicycle race, nicknamed "The Hell of the North", is famous for sending riders over brutal cobblestone roads. Only the strong, brave and lucky survive the hours of bone-shaking racing without suffering some mishap or catastrophe. It is so difficult no one wins it by accident, and winning Paris–Roubaix automatically puts a rider among the immortals of the sport.How did that come to be? At one time roads everywhere were paved with cobbles. Why did Paris–Roubaix emerge to be such a special race? Les Woodland tells the inside story: how one of cycling's classics grew from several 19th century businessmen's plan to bring cycling to the mill town of Roubaix. It wasn't a sure thing, and several times it seemed the race might die. It's a fascinating tale, so fasten your seat belts, Les is going to take you on a bumpy ride.
Les Woodland has been cycling for 50 years and has been writing about cycling since 1965, when he wrote his first reports for the British publication Cycling.
Since then he has been a prolific contributor to newspapers, magazines and radio stations in the U.K. and Belgium. Mr. Woodland, who currently lives in France, speaks several of the languages of cycling: English, Dutch and French. At last count he has written 27 books, nearly all about cycling.
In the picture to the right, Mr. Woodland is seated next to the infamous Carrefour de l’Arbre sector of cobbles, one of the last stretches of pavé before the race's finish at the Roubaix velodrome.