The dust has settled, Sunday’s sweat and grime washed away, it’s the start of a new week, but one that won’t let the last one fade. Rally style car and bike chases across northern France bewitches the concentration. This was Paris–Roubaix, they nickname it ‘A Sunday in Hell’ but it’s one no-one wants to forget. It’s the end of the cobbled classics for another year, but if the pang of nostalgia to stones, strong beer and frites is already there, then let Russ Ellis’ photos of the day take you to hell and back one more time.
The mad dash to exit Compiègne isn’t one just for the riders, squeezing through micro-gaps, it’s an assault course weaving between parked cars, policeman’s elbows and jittery spectators. A haze of adrenaline.
Cobble dumbbells? When in Roubaix! The Belgians were out in force wanting their Boonen shaped fairytale ending, but it wasn’t to be.
It’s a day for the wheel bearers, it doesn’t matter whose wheel it may be, the cobbles show no mercy or preferential treatment to the favourites.
Eating dust and probably trying to convince themselves this is the best day they’ll ever have on a bike.
Cobbles or dusty field? A wheel to follow? There’s surely delusional moments when a farmer’s field looks a smoother alternative than another cobbled shaped beating.
The onlookers–there are many vantage points of a bike race some a bit more relaxed than others.
In everyday life Stab Velodrome is a blend of grey and beige that quietly hibernates and peacefully awaits.
Then it has one hell of a party!
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Words: Hannah Troop Photos: Russ Ellis