Bobet Finally Wins Paris-Roubaix
Questions about French superstar Louison Bobet's health at the beginning of 1956 cast a shadow over his racing form. After an off-season operation doctors questioned his return to the peloton. A determined Bobet slowly worked back to a top level of fitness.
An elite field of Belgian and French riders came to the start. The early breakaway was caught at a level railroad crossing in Evin-Malmaison and the real racing started to dominate. A group of 18 went clear on the hill at Mons-en-Pevele, but punctures and crashes thinned the number in the breakaway.
Relentless attacks of the non-sprinters tried to jettison Rik Van Steenbergen. The ever vigilant Van Steenbergen answered every time.
A solo Bernard Gauthier entered the velodrome in Roubaix with a small gap over Van Steenbergen. Bobet's teammate Alfred de Bruyne took control of the group. As Van Steenbergen faded Bobet jumped past the leadout and went clear. He drove a 52-14 gear for the prestigious victory.
SPECIAL NOTE 1: The P-R victory was the highlight of Bobet's season. Injuries caused him to abandon the Vuelta a Espana and he did not start the Tour de France.
SPECIAL NOTE 2: Oddly, just after the finish Alfred de Bruyne pulled along side Bobet to congratulate him when he rolled a tire sending both to the concrete velodrome surface.
P-R April 8, 1956
252 Km, St. Denis (north of Paris) to Roubaix (Velodrome)
Louison BOBET (Fra) 6h01'26”
Alfred De Bruyne (Bel) +15”
Jean Forestier (Fra)
Average Speed: 41.831 km/h
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