IN THE SADDLE is a featured column on the CN&CO blog by Josh Nuttall, currently with the client relationship team at Purple Group. Josh’s tenure at Purple ends this week. He’ll be moving on to work on a number of other brands, including Sundays Insurance, in a freelance capacity. His columns on our blog will continue, though. Here’s the latest:

The Queen of the Classics… what are you talking about, a musical, a play, Shakespeare? Nope we’re talking about a cycling race…

There are probably a few people who have no idea what the Queen of the Classics is, but in the cycling world it is one of the most anticipated one-day spring classic races of the cycling season. Let’s just say that the cycling world get VERY EXCITED and the course is lined with spectators regardless of the weather conditions.

Paris Roubaix (its official name), the Queen of the Classics or the Hell of the North… whichever name you prefer, started way back in 1896 and used to start in Paris and end in Roubaix (hence the name). The start has shifted over the years, but the finish of the race remains in the iconic velodrome in Roubaix.

The Roubaix Velodrome in Roubaix, France, marks the end of the Paris Roubaix cycle race

The 2018 edition took place on Sunday, 8 April 2018 – and goodness it delivered a spectacle of power bike riding by the world’s best!

What makes Paris Roubaix unique is its 29 cobble sectors (Cycling tips provides a detailed breakdown of the sectors), all varying in length and degree of difficulty. Racing a road bike over 257km is one thing, but throw in 56 km of cobbles, mud, poor road conditions… taking this six-hour bicycle racer to a whole different level. Needless to say, it takes a talented, strong minded and powerful racer to claim victory in the Roubaix Velodrome at the end of the day!

This year’s edition saw Peter Sagan from the Bora Hansgrohe team and current UCI Road World Champion take home the title. In the process breaking a 37-year drought since a current World Champion won the race. Sagan is one of cycling’s most popular characters and his breakaway to join Silvan Dillier at the front of the race, with 55 km remaining, further confirmed the pedigree of rider that he is.

Paris Roubaix always delivers something special each year. It attracts views from right around the globe and the spectators always show up in their droves, even if the horrible weather in Northern Europe comes out to play. It really is a spectacle and I am sure it is on many a cyclist’s bucket list to go and see it live one day. Watching the racers tackle the cobbled sections from the couch your hands get sore thinking about having to hold the bike down so that it doesn’t bounce off the road, all the finishes of this race are part of an elite group who have triumphed over the Hell of the North.

It is arguably the greatest #CycleSundays moment for the week! I wonder what the Hell of the North will have in store for us next year. Only time will tell.

Unfortunately, this year the race was also filled with tragedy as one of the cyclists from Veranda’s Willems-Crelan cycling, Michael Goolaerts, passed away. For more details on the incident you can find them here. Condolences and strength to Michael’s family, friends and team mates.