Dusty faces, leg muscles firing, mud dried and cracked on shorts. The winner’s smile shines white against his mud-caked face, eyelids dripping with beads of sweat.
Such is the popular image, one that is symbolic of the Paris-Roubaix. But if the classic of the classics could withstand the test of time and offer 120 years of history today, it’s thanks to a number of contributions to the legend in making.
The exhibition entitled "Paris-Roubaix, the legend" covers five themes: the saga, the landscape, power, folklore and victory. Each one brings to mind a memory or emotion, as if immersed in the heart of the pack, along edge of the roads of Northern France.
From the apocalypse to the grande finale, between the slippery roads and the closing ceremony at the Roubaix velodrome, this classic reveals itself, giving itself to everyone. It proudly presents itself through this preview exhibition for viewers of all ages, bringing together objects and films from the past. Visitors land directly in the heart of the race, becoming participants in this legendary race.
The Queen of the Classics, Tougher than Tough, the Hell of the North, the Roubaix. Many names and superlatives have been given to the Paris-Roubaix. An emblem of the spring cycling races, it is the soul of the most popular races, a theater of human achievement, transcendence, and the fight against the elements.
For over 120 years, cyclists from around the world have undertaken the 250 kilometers between Paris and Roubaix. After 25 cobbled sections covered with dust or mud, cyclists are unrecognizable and tired, but happy to tackle Avenue Motte, the final stretch, before finishing at the famous Roubaix velodrome.
For over 120 years, Roubaix has been living and breathing cycling as the month of April approaches. But when it comes to cycling, the other eleven months of the year also want for nothing in this city.
At the heart of the city, the sports park serves as the gathering point for athletic cycling, with the velodrome André Pétrieux, established in 1936, overseeing the annual arrival of the Paris-Roubaix. The Stab, a covered velodrome that opened in 2012, hosts French track cycling championships, as well as numerous competitions and track initiations. The velodrome grounds hosted the UCI World Cyclocross Championships and continue to host many cultural or historical events and sports annually.
Since the creation of the Paris-Roubaix by Roubaix spinning mill owners Theodore Vienne and Maurice Perez in 1896, the city has seen cycling establish its presence in the streets, in traditions, and at events. Today, Roubaix is proud of its Véloclub, where amateur or professional road cyclists, mountain and BMX bikers live out their passion for pedal. BMX also has a brand new 380 meter-long track located inside the sports park. In our streets, V'Lille short-term bike rentals have been available in Roubaix to the general public at over 35 stations since May 25, 2012. The city also boasts an impressive 40 kilometers of cycling paths.
The Paris-Roubaix museum opens a new chapter in the history of Roubaix cycling and confirms Roubaix’s status as a cycling city, which is an important position in this period of constant evolution in urban mobility.
As a club (association de loi 1901 d’intérêt général), the Friends of Paris-Roubaix are the guarantors of the Paris-Roubaix. Supported by the city, the European metropolis of Lille, the General Council of the North as well as a number of public and private partners, they oversee the race, protect its history and heritage, and drive its current events and sustainability.
In 1977, race organizers Jean-Claude Vallaeys and Albert Bouvet founded the Friends of Paris-Roubaix. The duo’s main goal was to restore the image of this classic. They created the famous cobblestone trophy traditionally awarded to the winner of the Paris-Roubaix by the mayor of Roubaix. They redesigned the path, searching for new paved areas and encouraging cities to renovate their cobblestones instead of paving over them. Hard work and effort paid off, with the club managing to maintain, preserve and create cobblestone sections, and so well that the length increased from 22km in 1977 to today’s 52.8km.
Today, François DOULCIER holds the presidency of the club and his goal has been unchanged since 1977. Today, that goal has been reached: the Paris-Roubaix has become the third most popular event in the North after the Braderie de Lille and the Dunkirk Carnival, with nearly 2 million viewers worldwide. Our beloved classic has become a legend, magical and unique for everyone.
The preview exhibition is the the first step towards a definitive Paris-Roubaix museum. Bigger and more complete, it will stage every piece of history and every last story detail. In the heart of Roubaix’s sports park between the Velodrome and the Stab, the Paris-Roubaix Museum will be a living museum, combining history and current events. Connected, it will offer many a journey into the the heart of the epic Paris-Roubaix. The museum will present temporary exhibitions and events, aiming to become one of the great aspects of culture in Roubaix. As the third museum in the city of a thousand chimneys, the Paris-Roubaix museum joins the ranks alongside La Piscine and La Manufacture, museum of creation and textile history.