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Smart, Safe, and Silly Paris Roubaix Predictions for 2024 and Beyond

I love Paris-Roubaix for the gnarly cobbles and the fun bike tech that racers use to conquer them. I'm eagerly imagining all the ways it could potentially play out. Here's some outcomes I think are highly likely this year, plus some advances I think we'll see in future editions.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Fun

Last year's leaders. Photo: A.S.O./Pauline Ballet.

With the toughest cobbled roads in the World Tour, Paris-Roubaix always features plenty of drama and some of the most innovative bike tech. It also tends to be a bit unpredictable, so it's always fun to try and prove how clever I am by making some armchair expert predictions. Here are some bets for Sunday’s race that are safe, smart, or maybe silly.

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Five 2024 Paris-Roubaix Predictions

1. Mathieu van der Poel Wins (Again)

MvdP Roubaix

Photo: A.S.O./Pauline Ballet.

With Wout van Aert injured and van der Poel’s insane form, this seems like a forgone conclusion. At E3 and Flanders, van der Poel simply looked leagues stronger than the rest. Roubaix is always full of surprises though, so who knows, maybe we’ll see an upset. 

If van der Poel does take the win, this will be the first back-to-back Paris-Roubaix win since Tom Boonen did it in 2008 and 2009. He will also join a very exclusive club of only 10 other riders who have won Flanders and Roubaix in the same year. If anyone can do it though, it’s a generational talent like him. 

Odds: ★★★★★

2. 32mm Vittoria Corsa Pros Win (Again)

Vittoria corsa pro review cornering treadThis is the safest of safe bets. Since tubeless tech came into pro racing, tires have been trending wider and wider. Based on history, spy shots, and tech galleries, the majority of the peloton will be on 32mm Vittoria Corsa Pros, including the race favorite, Mathieu van der Poel. 

The main tire challengers are going to be the Continental GP 5000 S TR, the Pirelli tubeless prototypes used by Lidl-Trek, and whatever the Specialized teams end up choosing, either the Specialized Turbo or Mondo. 

Odds: ★★★★★

3. A 1x Drivetrain Wins

Paris Roubaix 1x

Former winner, Borghini, and Lucinda Brand chose 1x last year. Photo: A.S.O/Thomas Maheux

We’ve seen some SRAM-sponsored riders experiment with 1x drivetrain at other big races (including the Tour de France) but Roubaix may be the perfect venue for a 1x to shine. On the women’s side, Lizzie Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini have already won on a 1x. Now I’m just waiting for it to happen on the men’s side too. Wout van Aert came close last year, but he’s injured so it will be up to his Visma teammates or one of the other 1x enlightened riders from Lidl-Trek or maybe Bora. 

Odds: ★★★

4. No One Gets Hurt in the Arenberg


Stay safe, everyone. Photo: A.S.O./Pauline Ballet

One of the biggest news stories this week has been the chicane organizers added before the legendary cobbled Arenberg sector to reduce speeds and increase rider safety. It’s received a lot of criticism and some expecting crashes as riders end up fighting for position into this key section. Personally, I hope this whole thing ends up being a nothingburger. We’ve already had a lot of bad crashes early this season, and it’d be nice to not have any massive incidents here. 


5. The Winner Will Be Wearing All Brown

Sonny Cobrelli Paris Roubaix

Sonny Cobrelli winning in 2021. Photo: A.S.O./Fabien Boukla

Easy money right here? There’s potential for moisture in the forecast. When it rains, things get gnarly, and the riders end up plastered in mud. The resulting raccoon eyes and mud mask images are my favorites from wet editions of Roubaix. We'll see what weather wants to do.  

Odds: ★★★★


Five Future Paris-Roubaix Predictions

Let’s look into our crystal ball and anticipate what we might see in the 2025 edition of Paris-Roubaix and beyond. 

1. Mathieu van der Poel Gets the Three-peat

Several riders have won Roubaix three times. But only one rider EVER has won it three times in a row — the French rider Octave Lapize who won the 1909-1911 editions. No one has been able to do it since. If van der Poel does get the double this year, he’ll likely be hungry enough to go for the triple and cement his name in the record books. It would be absolutely legendary.  

Odds: ★★★

2. MORE 1x Drivetrains

Everyone knows I’m a 1x geek so I love that so many riders use it at Roubaix. I don’t expect single chainrings to take over all of World Tour racing, but for flat and rugged races like this, I think it makes a lot of sense. 

All the current 1x users are on SRAM-sponsored teams, but just like wide tubeless tires, the trend might spread through the peloton. I think we might see some Shimano-sponsored riders experiment with ditching the front derailleur in coming years too.  

Odds: ★★★

3. 34-35mm Tires 

It looks like the Israel–Premier Tech team is planning to ride the Factor Ostro Gravel bike at Roubaix. They were spotted riding them during their course recon with 32mm tires, but if it does rain, it would also give them the option to run an aero frame with even wider tires. Visma’s Cervelo S5 and Soloist bikes can clear 34mm tires. TotalEnergies’ ENVE Melee can clear 35mm tires. 

I think it'd be interesting for the teams that have the option to start testing even wider tires for the cobbles, especially since the adjustable tire pressure systems we heard about last year seem to be a dud. Running a slightly wider tire that will be more comfy on the cobbles but fast on the pavement is the simplest and most elegant solution. 

Odds: ★★★

4. Tire Inserts (but NOT Air-Liner Roads)

Here’s another option: tire inserts. I’m not talking about the current Vittoria Air-Liner Road, which is intended to be more of a run-flat solution, but inserts that take up half of the volume inside the tire protect the rim and tire from harsh bottom outs.

Flats are decisive at Roubaix, and mitigating them with a MTB-style insert will not only keep riders in the race, but it might actually help them hit the cobbles faster and harder. Inserts allow riders to run even lower pressures and they help damp out vibration and impacts. The major downsides though are increased weight and rolling resistance, so this might be a tough sell.

The Vittoria Air-Liner Road that many teams currently use doesn’t add puncture protection or damping, but it’s super light and shrinks under pressure so it doesn’t rub against the tire sidewall which keeps rolling resistance low. 

Odds: ★★

5. Tactical Bike Changes

Last year, van der Poel pulled an interesting move. At the start of the race, his bike was photographed with 28mm tires. At the finish though, it had wider 32mm tires. Why? The cobbles are the star of the show, but the first half of Paris-Roubaix is paved. At some point before the first important cobbles sector, van der Poel swapped to a bike with wider tires. Maybe he had a mechanical, but the fact that his second bike had a setup better suited to the cobbles made many think it was tactical. 

Could other riders and teams use this strategy in the future? It’s risky, but if you’re at the front and strong enough to make up the time lost from stopping, then maybe it could work. 

Odds: ★★

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