On Monday's reconaissance of the race with the organisers, our Eurosport rental car took quite a few bumps and got quite a bit messy.
Unless forecasts improve (predicted weather for Sunday's race includes showers throughout the afternoon) the riders will be racing in the same slop that coated our VW Golf, or worse.
One instant the riders will be frenziedly bouncing along the cobblestones, and the next minute they might find themselves riding in the muck, if they are lucky, and face down in the muck if not.
Davitamon protest disqualification
11/04/2006 AT 16:05
Race favourite, last year's winner, Pro Tour leader, and world champion Tom Boonen won his second straight Tour of Flanders on Saturday boasting that he had not done any reconnaisance because he knew the race by heart.
While such an approach worked for Belgium's sprint-king at home, it will not suffice on the Hell of the North. The return of the mighty Arenberg trench is the highlight of the 2006 Paris-Roubaix, and Boonen did not have to face it in 2005.
While the 2.4km long monster was cleaned up over the winter to allow for its return after a year of absence from the race, the drainage work and tree removal done will not make the Arenberg any less of a challenge to the best of riders.

CYCLING 2006 Paris-Roubaix Arenberg Trench

Image credit: Imago

One key on Sunday will be how wet the race gets. Some portions of the course we're already extremely slippery.
The 1.6km Maing à Monchaux-sur-Écaillon was especially bad with only a one-metre strip of road on which to ride in between two flooded out areas on the right and left.
When riders aren't cruising through massive puddles, there's grass and moss growing out of the stones to cause havoc.
At one point on the Wallers à Hélesmes, right after Arenberg, a grass road with only mud along the sides gives way to a paved road, back to pure muck, back to paved cobblestones, then to a mixture of cobblestone and mud with a strip of grass running down the centre.
There will be plenty of opportunity for bad luck to trump Boonen's repeat of last year's Paris-Roubaix victory, and race organiser on Monday were saying chance was all that could stop Tom Boonen.
"He rides the cobblestones real well, but you need lots of luck to win Paris-Roubaix," said race organiser Jean-Francois Pescheux. "You can lose five or six team-mates in a single shot."
"With a crash or with some exhausted riders he could lose his entire team."
"So, bad luck could lose it for Tom Boonen on Sunday."
Here is full list of all the cobblestone sections, including their level of difficulty as determined by race organisers.
Paved sectors with difficulty rating (five stars most difficult)
27. 98 km Troivilles to Inchy 2,2 km THREE STARS
26. 104,5 km Viesly to Quiévy 1,8 km THREE STARS
25. 107 km Quiévy to Saint-Python 3,7 km FOUR STARS
24. 112 km Saint-Python 1,5 km TWO STARS
23. 119,5 km Vertain to St-Martin-sur-Écaillon 1,9 km THREE STARS
22. 126,5 km Capelle-sur-Écaillon - Le-Buat 1,7 km THREE STARS
21. 138 km Verchain-Maugré to Quérénaing 1,6 km THREE STARS
20. 141 km Quérénaing to Maing 2,5 km THREE STARS
19. 144 km Maing to Monchaux-sur-Écaillon 1,6 km THREE STARS
18. 155,5 km Haveluy to Wallers 2,5 km FOUR STARS
17. 163,5 km Trouée d'Arenberg 2,4 km FIVE STARS
16. 170 km Wallers to Hélesmes 1,6 km FOUR STARS
15. 176,5 km Hornaing to Wandignies - Hamage 3,7 km THREE STARS
14. 184 km Warlaing to Brillon 2,4 km THREE STARS
13. 187,5 km Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières 2,4 km THREE STARS
12. 198,5 km Orchies 1,7 km THREE STARS
11. 205 km Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersée 2,6 km THREE STARS
10. 210,5 km Mons-en-Pévèle 3 km FIVE STARS
9. 216,5 km Méringnies to Pont-à-Marcq 0,7 km TWO STARS
8. 219,5 km Pont-Thibaut to Ennevelin 1,4 km THREE STARS
7. 225 km Templeuve - L'Épinette 0,2 km ONE STAR
7. 225,5 km Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain 0,5 km TWO STARS
6. 232 km Cysoing to Bourghelles 1,3 km FOUR STARS
6. 234,5 km Bourghelles to Wannehain 1,1 km FOUR STARS
5. 239 km Camphin-en Pévèle 1,8 km FOUR STARS
4. 242 km Carrefour de l'Arbre 2,1 km FIVE STARS
3. 244 km Gruson 1,1 km TWO STARS
2. 251 km Hem 1,4 km ONE STAR
1. 259 km Roubaix 0,3 km ONE STAR
FORUM: Have your say
Hincapie out, Hell's fallout
10/04/2006 AT 16:57
"I was the strongest"
10/04/2006 AT 12:16