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Work to fill gaps in Arenberg cobbles with concrete begins

Concrete filling is being used to make section safer and help futureproof the famous road

Joe Robinson
22 Feb 2019

Work has started on Paris-Roubaix pave sector the Trouee d'Arenberg to replace the grass and mud between the stones with mortar concrete.

In a series of tweets, Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix - the volunteer group charged with the upkeep of the race's cobbled sections - tweeted photos of the work beginning on the infamous road.

The group tweeted, saying that 'Like the Koppenberg, the joints will be made with concrete. The sector is likely to be harder and less dangerous', also labelling the work 'impressive'.

In a follow-on tweet, Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix also addressed those angry with the changes made to the iconic section: 'For the most angry, here is the cobble with concrete! The grass has disappeared and the sector is harder!'.

The decision to replace the grass and mud with special concrete was made in order to increase safety on the Arenberg following a recent speight of crashes due to the surface becoming too slippy.

The group has been using a high-powered pressure washer to clear the mud as chemical weedkillers are currently banned in the area. When dry, the gaps will be filled with a special mortar mix that is set to cover around 500m of the section. 

Works will have until Sunday 14th April to be completed, the day of this year's race.

The Arenberg is one of three five-starred Roubaix cobbled sectors alongside Mons-en-Pevele and the Carrefour de l'Arbre and is often considered as the start of the race-deciding action despite still being 100km from the finish. 

Last year, Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix ambassador and former race winner John Degenkolb told CyclingNews that he believed these changes were necessary to preserve the sector's future.

'When I read it, at first, I thought it's holy and you can't change anything there,' Degenkolb said. 'In this forest, they can't use poison to keep the grass away so if you fill it up with the concrete you don't change the position of the stones you just fill the gaps.

'I think, riding over it, you won't notice the difference but it just makes it safer. If there is a lot of rain before, the grass grows before the race.

'If we have a rainy edition and all the grass is on the cobbles it's basically impossible to ride. I'd prefer to have the mortar in between and have the possibility to go to the Arenberg even if it's raining rather than skipping it because it's too dangerous.

'In my opinion, it belongs to the race and I think that it could be an opportunity to make the race safer.'