By Barry Boyce,


Top 20 All Time Major Classics #19

Paris-Roubaix 1927: A Controversial Victory for Automoto

CR Timeline 1927

The 1927 edition of Paris-Roubaix saw massive crowds come to view the race on a beautiful day in northern France .

After a slow early pace, 21 year old Belgian George Ronsse set a relentless tempo up the usual launching pad the Doullens hill. Ronsse and Charles Pelissier extended a small gap over the climb. But a strong group of chasers caught the breakaway through the feed zone in Arras. Ronsse refusing food and water attacked and escaped the peloton. Slowly gaining time he rode brilliantly through the cobbled sections. An elite group of 16 chased hard and caught Ronsse entering Roubaix.

Ronsse and Pelissier breakaway over the Doullens hill (Archive)

Onto the finishing straight along the Avenue des Villars the sprint opened up. French hopes were pinned on sprinter Charles Pelissier, but Ronsse and Frenchman Joseph Curtel dropped Pelissier. The two battled to the line with Curtel apparently taking the clear victory. Ecstatic French fans began to celebrate. The band played the French National anthem, Curtel was carried off by the French fans.

BUT… when the results were announced, Ronsse first, Curtel second, a near riot erupted. Cries of “Lynch the officials” came from the angry crowd. Rider protests were denied and the announced results remained official. The incident sparked rumors that Ronsse's powerful Automoto team was plotting behind the scene to gain the victory.

Post race dealings aside, the huge victory marked the start of a brilliant racing career for the young Belgian George Ronsse.

P-R April 17, 1927
260 Km Suresnes (west of Paris) to Roubaix (Ave des Villas)

1. Georges RONSSE (Bel) 8h32'20”

2. Joseph Curtel (Fra) ?

3. Charles Pelissier (Fra)

Starters: 123
Finishers: 97
Average Speed: 30.450 km/h



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