Paris-Roubaix is arguably the most eagerly anticipated one-day race of the professional cycling season and the unique character of the race with its numerous sectors of pavé have prompted cyclists and commentators to provide some great quotes about the race over the years. Below are some of our favourites.
“Paris-Roubaix is a horrible race to ride but the most beautiful one to win.” – Sean Kelly
“Paris-Roubaix starts like a party and ends like a bad dream.” – Guy Lagorce (Journalist)
“The racers look like they have passed through the drum of a cement mixer.” – Thierry Bretagne (Journalist)
“This isn’t where you win Paris-Roubaix but it’s where you can lose it.” – Eddy Merckx speaking about the Arenberg.
“A Paris–Roubaix without rain is not a true Paris–Roubaix. Throw in a little snow as well, it’s not serious.” – Sean Kelly.
“Arenberg is like a descent into the coal mine. If you start to think of the danger you won’t even go there.” – Jean Stablinski
”Paris Roubaix est une connerie!” (“Paris Roubaix is bulls**t!”) – Bernard Hinault.
“Guys would kill their mothers to be among the first.” – Stephen Roche on the battle to be at the front for the first sector of pavé.
“I’m the world cyclo cross champion, but if someone had suggested holding a race of that discipline on this route, I would have refused. At twenty-seven, I’m too young to die.” – Roger De Vlaeminck
“If a racer enters Arenberg in 24th position, he has already lost.” – Alain Bondue.
“When I stand in the showers in Roubaix, I actually start the preparation for next year.” — Tom Boonen.
“Paris-Roubaix is the last folly cycling offers it followers.” – Jacques Goddet.
“It’s a circus, and I don’t want to be one of the clowns.” – Chris Boardman.
“This wasn’t a race. It was a pilgrimage!” - Henri Pélissier, speaking of his 1919 victory.
“We’re all friends here, but all of a sudden, nothing matters anymore. There’s no safe haven. It’s a full-blown war out there. Everyone becomes crazy.” – Pello Ruiz-Cabestany.
“If one wants to make the list of great champions, a win in Roubaix is a must.” – Fausto Coppi
“Let me tell you, though, there’s a huge difference between the Tour of Flanders and Paris–Roubaix. They’re not even close to the same. In one, the cobbles are used every day by the cars, and kept up, and stuff like that. The other one, it’s completely different. The best I could do would be to describe it like this — they ploughed a dirt road, flew over it with a helicopter, and then just dropped a bunch of rocks out of the helicopter. That’s Paris–Roubaix. It’s that bad. It’s ridiculous.” – Chris Horner
“The race is all about surviving, surviving, surviving; I know I didn’t feel great, but maybe others felt worse.” – Tom Boonen after winning the 2009 edition.
“Under the shower you hear the swearing. ‘This shitty race, I’ll never come back.’ But once they’ve left that room it becomes ‘Wow, what a race!’” – Cyrille Guimard
The American television channel CBS covered Paris–Roubaix in the 1980s. Theo de Rooij, a Dutchman, had been in a promising position to win the 1985 race but had then crashed, losing his chance of winning. Covered in mud, he offered his thoughts on the race to CBS’ John Tesh after the race:
“It’s a bollocks, this race!” said de Rooij. “You’re working like an animal, you don’t have time to piss, you wet your pants. You’re riding in mud like this, you’re slipping … it’s a pile of shit.”
When then asked if he would start the race again, de Rooij replied: “Sure, it’s the most beautiful race in the world!”