___Race Snippets

 
 

64th Paris-Roubaix 1966 (France)

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

The Next Great Italian

The organizers of Paris-Roubaix re-vamped the route in 1966 adding several previously unused cobbled sections.  Miserable weather also added to the increased difficulty of the “Hell of the North”.

Heavy rain, present at the start in Chantilly, fell for most of the race.  Following a large crash at only 60 km into the race young Belgian Theo Mertens escaped and built a 4’30” lead.

Over the next 100 km the peloton regrouped and set a very hard tempo.  A dwindling pack caught the solo Mertens with just under 100 km to go.  Big names were crashing and puncturing when two Italian and a Belgian attacked on the climb at Pas Rolland.  Steadily the trio bounced across the cobbles and opened a 40 second gap. 

Reminiscent of the days of Fausto Coppi, Felice Gimondi set an impossible pace and dropped his breakaway companions. 

Into the velodrome Gimondi held a 4 minute lead and cruised to the prestigious victory.  Dutchman Jan Janssen won the field sprint for second place. 

SPECIAL NOTE: A 20 year old Belgian named Eddy Merckx racing in his first P-R was the most unfortunate rider of the day.  He jammed his chain on an early cobbled section, punctured twice and had several long pursuits to regain the leaders.  Merckx finished in 15th place.

P-R April 17, 1966
262 Km, Chantilly to Roubaix (Velodrome)

1. Felice GIMONDI (Ita) 6h59’27”

2. Jan Janssen (Hol) +4’06”
3. Gustaaf Desmet (Bel)
Starters: 134
Finishers: 58
Average Speed: 37.546 km/h

 

 

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“Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.”
Fausto Coppi, Italian
"Champion of Champions"