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Paris-Roubaix with Greg Lemond

Paris–Roubaix is a one-day professional bicycle road race in northern France near the Belgian frontier. It is one of the oldest races of professional road cycling. It was first run in 1896 and has stopped only for two world wars. From its beginning in 1896 until 1967 it started in Paris and ended in Roubaix.

Hell of the North - The race usually leaves riders caked in mud and grit, from the cobbled roads and rutted tracks of northern France's former coal-mining region. However, this is not how this race earned the name l'enfer du Nord, or Hell of the North. The term was used to describe the route of the race after World War I.

Since 1977, the winner of Paris–Roubaix has received a sett (cobble stone) as part of his prize. The terrain has led to the development of specialised frames, wheels and tyres. Punctures and other mechanical problems are common and have often played a part in the results. Despite the high esteem with which the race is seen, some cyclists have claimed to regard it as a joke because of its difficult conditions.

Gregory James "Greg" LeMond (born June 26, 1961) is an American former professional road racing cyclist, entrepreneur, and anti-doping advocate. He was World Champion in 1983 and 1989, and is a three-time winner of the Tour de France. LeMond was born in Lakewood, California, and raised in ranch country on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, near Carson City, NV.

In 1986, LeMond became the first non-European professional cyclist to win the Tour (and to this day, the only American, following Lance Armstrong's and Floyd Landis' disqualifications). He was accidentally shot while hunting in 1987 and missed the next two Tours. LeMond returned to the Tour de France in 1989, completing an improbable comeback by winning in dramatic fashion on the race's final stage. He successfully defended his title the following year, claiming his third and final Tour victory in 1990, and making LeMond one of only seven riders who have won three or more Tours. LeMond retired from competition in December 1994. He was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1996. 

"Roubaix is not a race where you have fun," says fifty-year veteran pro mechanic Julien Devries, who wrenched for such legends as Eddy Merckx and Greg LeMond. "You can work eight days for Paris-Roubaix and all the work can be for nothing by the first cobblestones."

Since the earliest days of the race, riders and teams have been searching for a mechanical advantage over their rivals or, at the very least, ways to merely keep their bikes from disintegrating. For almost the first hundred years of Paris-Roubaix, riders and teams employed a panoply of traditional solutions. Stronger tubes prevented frame failures; slacker angles and longer wheelbases helped to cushion the ride; additional clearances and bigger tires helped keep pinch flats at bay and made for free running in muddy conditions; and double-wrapped bar tape spared riders' hands. 

That all changed when Greg LeMond and Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle (Team Z) debuted RockShox's new suspension fork in 1991.–Roubaix



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