On the last day our my road trip to Belgium and France to ride the Paris Roubaix Challenge event, we headed to the Mons-en-Pévèle secteur to watch the professionals tackle the Hell of the North.
Mons-en-Pévèle proved to be an excellent spot to watch the race. Not only was the new Rapha Cycle Club wagon parked up in a field next to the pavé, complete with a large TV allowing us to watch the race unfold, but with less than 50km to go the race was really hotting up as it passed us.
Nothing really prepares you for the chaos as the race passes. Thousands of people of all nationalities line the route for us far as the eye can see, the smell of frites in the air and the local supporters getting increasingly drunk as the afternoon rolls on by.
Anticipation hangs heavy in the air, but is soon interrupted as the sound of the helicopters appear on the horizon, relaying video feeds to the TV broadcasters satellites to be beamed around the world. Dozens of cars and motorbikes roar past, then before too long the first riders are approaching. By this point the crowd are going crazy, leaning right onto the pavé, craning necks to get a better look.
One by one the riders’ rocket past us, their speed on the rough roads is astounding. Dust kicked up in the faces of the spectators, reeling with the sheer velocity of the racers in full flight.
I attempted to capture the action, chaos and excitement in this video, which sees Fabian Cancellara going full gas, hotly pursued by Thor Hushovd, Juan Antonio Flecha and Alessandro Ballan.