The Hell of the North, Queen of the Classics – these are just a few nicknames of this famous race. Its first edition took place in 1896 and it took the winner more than 9 hours to complete it. A lot of things have changed since then…
Naturally, the finishing times, average speeds, as well as winners’ heights, weights, and BMIs varied significantly. I was curious how much. What are the trend lines? What interesting data can I find in the Paris–Roubaix’s history?
These Paris–Roubaix statistics will provide you with unique insights that you have probably never seen before…
Abbreviations used: PR – Paris–Roubaix, BMI – Body Mass Index
Please, also keep in mind the following:
- Paris–Roubaix did not take place between 1915-1918,1940-1942, and 2020.
- The actual rider’s racing weight could vary.
- The heights and weight data are not available for all riders (especially for winners before 1950).
Paris–Roubaix Distance, Time, and Average Speed
Let’s start with the basics.
The Paris–Roubaix’s length is pretty consistent. It varied from around 245 to 280 km.
The average Paris–Roubaix is 262.4 km long. The average PR distance was 271 km between 1900 and 1909, 252 km between 1950 and 1959, and 257 km between 2010 and 2019.
The longest Paris–Roubaix was 280 km long. Several editions were so long, including the first two (1896, 1897), the 1901 edition, and the 1919-1920 editions.
The shortest Paris–Roubaix was only 244 km long. It took place in 1949, and it was won by French cyclist André Mahé.
The following chart shows the winning time vs. the distance. Luckily for riders, the race doesn’t take around 9 hours as it took in the first 30 years of its existence.
The average winning time of all Paris–Roubaix editions is 7h 14′ 28″.
The fastest Paris–Roubaix winning time was 5h 35′ 31″. This PR took place in 1948 and was won by Rik van Steenbergen. He averaged 43.99 km/h.
The slowest Paris–Roubaix winning time was 12h 15′ 00″. This PR took place in 1919 and was won by Henri Pélissier. He averaged 22.86 km/h.
Between 1919 and 1950, there was a steep downwards trend in the winning time. From 1950 to around 1995, the winning times extended, and from 1995 to the present, they went down again.
These trends can be explained by the changes in the distance and average speed.
The average speed of all Paris–Roubaix editions is 37.15 km/h. The speed varied a lot in the past. The average speed was 30.01 km/h between 1900* and 1909, 39.38 km/h between 1950 and 1959, and 43.01 km/h between 2010 and 2019.
*Emile Bouhours, the winner of the 5th Paris–Roubaix (1900), averaged 37.35 km/h!
The fastest Paris–Roubaix took place in 2022. The average speed of the winner, Dylan van Baarle, was 45.79 km/h. He finished the 257.2km route in 5h 37′ 00″.
The slowest Paris–Roubaix took place in 1919. The average speed of the winner, Henri Pélissier, was 22.86 km/h. He finished the 280km route in 12h 15′ 00″. It is important to note that this edition took place on roads devastated by the First World War.
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Paris–Roubaix Height, Weight, and BMI of the Winners
Paris–Roubaix winners are getting taller and heavier, but their BMI declines on average…
Let’s now shift our focus to winners. How their height, weight, and BMI developed over time? These insights are the most unique and the most interesting.
NOTE: The heights and weight data are unavailable for all riders (especially winners before 1950).
Height of the Winners
The average height of a Paris–Roubaix winner is 1.8 m.
The tallest Paris–Roubaix winner ever was Johan Van Summeren (PR 2011). He is 1.97 m tall.
The shortest Paris–Roubaix winner ever was Maurice Garin (PR 1897 and 1898). He was 1.62 m tall.
Weight of the Winners
The average weight of a Paris–Roubaix winner is 74.7 kg.
The heaviest Paris–Roubaix winner was Magnus Backstedt. He won the 2004 PR, weighing 94 kg.
The lightest Paris–Roubaix winner was Maurice Garin. He won the 1897 and 1898 PR, weighing just 60 kg.
BMI of the Winners
The BMI chart and trend is the most interesting part of this article, in my opinion. As a reminder, here is an explanation of BMI:
NOTE: BMI (Body Mass Index) uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. (Source)
You can interpret the BMI values using the following key:
- Below 18.5 – underweight,
- 18.5-24.9 – normal,
- 25.0-29.9 – overweight,
- 30.0 and above – obese.
So, what do we find out when we take a look at riders’ BMI?
Paris–Roubaix winners have an average BMI of 23.06. This means they have a standard, healthy weight.
The Paris–Roubaix winner with the highest BMI was François Faber. He won the 1913 Paris–Roubaix with a BMI of 27.77 (1.78 m, 88 kg). In other words, he won PR while being overweight.
The Paris–Roubaix winner with the lowest BMI was Johan Van Summeren. He won the 2011 Paris–Roubaix with a BMI of 20.36 (1.97 m, 79 kg).
Johan Van Summeren is an anomaly. He is the tallest Paris–Roubaix winner ever and also the rider with the lowest BMI.
The BMI trend declines because winners are getting taller, but their weight doesn’t increase enough to follow the same BMI value.
Compare yourself with pro riders. Calculate your BMI using the calculator below.
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The riders with the most Paris–Roubaix wins (4) are Roger De Vlaeminck and Tom Boonen. No active rider is close to at least 3 victories.
It’s no surprise that the most successful Paris–Roubaix winners are Belgians because Belgium also leads country stats with 57 wins:
Belgium has twice as many wins as 2nd France and more than four times more than 3rd Italy.
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These are my favorite Paris–Roubaix stats:
- The average Paris–Roubaix is 262.42 km long. The average PR distance was 271 km between 1900 and 1909, 252 km between 1950 and 1959, and 257 km between 2010 and 2019.
- The average speed of all Paris–Roubaix editions is 37.15 km/h. The speed varied a lot in the past. The average speed was 30.01 km/h between 1900 and 1909, 39.38 km/h between 1950 and 1959, and 43.01 km/h between 2010 and 2019.
- Emile Bouhours, the winner of the 5th Paris–Roubaix (1900), averaged 37.35 km/h!
- The Paris–Roubaix winner with the highest BMI was François Faber. He won the 1913 Paris–Roubaix with a BMI of 27.77 (1.78 m, 88 kg). In other words, he won PR while being overweight.
- The Paris–Roubaix winner with the lowest BMI was Johan Van Summeren. He won the 2011 Paris–Roubaix with a BMI of 20.36 (1.97 m, 79 kg).
What are your thoughts on the Paris–Roubaix statistics? What stats do you find the most mind-blowing?