A game of preparation
"Victory awaits him who has everything in order, luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time, this is called bad luck.”
― Roald Amundsen
Paris-Roubaix is a race that almost guarantees some kind of catastrophe. It’s not if something will go wrong, it’s when will something go wrong. Because of this fact, Paris-Roubaix becomes a race of preparation. Who is best prepared for what they will see on the cobbled route to Roubaix?
The equipment requirements for this one-day race are immense. Matt Shriver is the technical director for Trek-Segafredo,
“Roubaix is the one race that requires so much material for a one day race. Each rider has two identical Domane Pro Endurance bikes and also their regular spare bike. The leaders have a third spare bike, so four bikes for one race. 90 special tubulars used one day, another 60 sets of race specific wheelsets. Bottle cages that have extra grip. Double wrapped bars and gel pads as well. We are prepared for anything and everything.”
The bike for this event is unique. Formed and sculpted by the riders who know the rough roads of Belgium, The Netherlands, and France; these machines are are designed to keep the rider as fresh as possible after 250 Km of punishing roads.
Each rider tunes their machine to meet their needs. Gears, amount of bar tape, pedals, you name it, the ask is made. Bar top brake levers? Only at Paris-Roubaix.
Preparation for what works begins many months in advance. From Matt Shriver,
“We start preparing for the Spring Classics campaign the day after Paris Roubaix. I obtain as much information from the riders and mechanics on the performance of our equipment in the harshest racing of the year. What was the weakness? What would you change? Where can we improve? From here we prepare our new ideas and equipment set ups for testing in November and December. Our plan is dialed and tested before we go into the next season.”
The race is hard on people. Bodies are pushed to places they are not designed to go. Preparation doesn’t end at the mechanic’s truck, it continues in the rider’s bus. Every muscle is considered, every joint is prepared.
Trek-Segafredo brought three riders into the top-10, the only team to do so. In fact, no team brought more than one rider into the top-10.
Roald would approve.