By Barry Boyce,




Top 20 All Time Major Classics #11

Paris-Roubaix 1983: 2 Crashes and a Puncture

CR Timeline 1983

The 1983 Paris-Roubaix cobbled classic pitted very strong aging veterans, Italian Francesco Moser, Frenchman Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle and Dutchman Hennie Kuiper, against a ‘who's who' of young stars.

From the start in Compiegne the pace was fast and aggressive as a 20 rider group formed over the first cobbled section at Neuvilly. The jarring cobbles thinned the group near the halfway mark in Valenciennes as defending champion Jan Raas, clearly off his previous year's form and suffering, abandoned the race.

A selection began to form just before the infamous cobbles of the Arenberg Forest. Francesco Moser set a brutal pace and broke away with three others. A second group of four containing Hennie Kuiper, Marc Madiot, Paul Sherwen and Steven Roche were chasing hard and closing. A series of crashes slowed the chase and eliminated Roche and Sherwen from the group. Narrowly avoiding the crash, Kuiper joined Moser and Duclos-Lassalle in the lead.

Kuiper leads Moser and Duclos-Lassalle [ image courtesy of ]

Moser continued with an infernal pace through the next tough cobbled sections. A very fit Kuiper held onto the now five rider group, when a slippery cobble took the Dutchman's front wheel out from under him. Duclos-Lassalle narrowly missed the fallen Kuiper. Quickly up and riding again Kuiper regained the breakaway. Several kilometers later Kuiper fell again on the slippery cobbles. Undaunted the Dutchman remounted and caught Moser in less than 2 kilometers.

Francesco Moser possessed the superior sprint of the five riders in the breakaway and with the kilometers rapidly counting down Kuiper attacked. His breakaway companions hesitated looking for Moser to chase. With only 16km to the finish Kuiper was alone and opened a 1'30” lead.

(L) Kuiper alone entering the cobbles at Hem, (M) the crash and puncture, (R) the agonizing wait [ image courtesy of ]

With six kilometers to go alarm bells started ringing after Kuiper skidded off the edge of the cobble at Hem and suffering a puncture. Panic set in as the seconds ticked off while he was waiting for the support vehicle to arrive.

The wheel was broken and the mechanic struggled to replace it as precious seconds ticked away. The team manager rushed a new bike to Kuiper and the breakaway was rescued.

In Roubaix Kuiper rode down the long straight Avenue Alfred Motte to the Velodrome finish line. One last, short cobbled section (1 star) led to velodrome entrance. Into the velodrome Hennie Kuiper celebrated a grand Paris-Roubaix victory.

Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle launched an excellent sprint to beat Francesco Moser for second place.

P-R April 10, 1983
274 Km Compiegne to Roubaix (Velodrome)

1. Hennie KUIPER (Ned) 6h47'51"

2. Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (Fra) +1'15"

3. Francesco Moser (Ita)

Starters: 193
Finishers: 32
Average Speed: 40.308 km/h

SPECIAL NOTE: with great respect for Hennie Kuiper's 1983 victory a group from the Town of Hem dedicated a monument to his ordeal on their famous cobbled section.

Kuiper Monument at the end of the cobbled section at Hem [Image ©]



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