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42nd Paris-Roubaix 1944 (France)

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

Ugliness of WW2 Overshadows l'Enfer du Nord

The ugliness of war weighed heavily on the atmosphere surrounding the 1944 Paris-Roubaix. Days before the start of the race (April 1st and 2nd ) the French Resistance in the Town of Ascq blew up two German military trains. Nazi troops responded by surrounding the Town and massacring 86 people. When race day arrived the bad memories diverted the attention of the citizen in the northern zone.

The always powerful Belgian contingent presented 19 year old phenom Rik Van Steenbergen as the pre-race favorite. After aggressive early racing an elite selection formed on the famed Doullens Hill. Through the closing cobbled sections pre-race favorite Van Steenbergen crashed heavily and abandoned the race. A six rider breakaway held a slim lead into Roubaix . Italian Jules Rossi drove the pace into the Velodrome with 3 laps of the track to go. Around the final bend Maurice De Simpelaere launched a powerful sprint to steal the victory from Rossi.

SPECIAL NOTE: Riders returning to Paris encountered dangerous passage. Exploding bombs and land mines returned the racers to the reality of WAR.

 

P-R April 9, 1944
246 Km, St. Denis (north of Paris) to Roubaix (Velodrome)

1. Maurice DE SIMPELAERE (Bel) 6h09'57

2. Jules Rossi (Ita)
3. Louis Thietard (Fra)
Starters: 172
Finishers: 89
Average Speed: 39.897 km/h

 

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