Today I am writing about Mathieu Van Der Poel’s Paris-Roubaix 2023 win and how I see the legendary cyclist did win the Queen of the Classics.
Kindly note, I am not doing a race report. Please consider this page as my reflection on what Mathieu did or didn’t do to grab the top position on the podium.
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Fastest Paris-Roubaix Ever
Mathieu Van Der Poel won the Paris-Roubaix 2023 covering 256.6km in 5h28min41s at an average speed of almost 47km/h (46.841km/h to be exact).
It is 1km/h faster than the previous record, which was held by another Dutch pro rider, Dylan van Baarle who won the 2022 edition of the Paris-Roubaix.
It took three generations to win the Paris-Roubaix.
Raymond Poulidor, the grandfather, finished in the 5th position of the Queen of the Classics in 1962.
Then, Adri Van Der Poel, the father, who won the Tour des Flandres in 1986, crossed the finish line of the Paris-Roubaix in 3rd position the same year.
It is an accomplishment for Mathieu Van Der Poel to finally win the Paris-Roubaix.
With this victory, he is adding a fourth Monument win to his fantastic cycling career and growing his aura.
The 2023 edition of the Paris-Roubaix had 175 protagonists at the start line, 40 of them did not finish the races.
This represents one of the lowest rates of dropout in the Paris-Roubaix.
The course condition on the day of the Men’s race was dry with some mud puddles remaining as it did rain on the previous Friday.
This surface condition has caused most crashes.
Tire Size Matters
Mathieu Van Der Poel won the Paris-Roubaix 2023 on his iconic Canyon Aeroad in mat red color.
Van Der Poel’s Aeroad bike is equipped with the same components as on “normal” road races.
Nothing differentiates Mathieu’s bike visually on the Paris-Roubaix from
the rest of the road racing season.
Except for the tires in the wider section.
Van Der Poel raced Paris-Roubaix 2023 on the Vittoria Corsa Pro Tubeless in size 700x32C. See the detailed pictures of MVDP Bike here.
Could it be the optimal marginal gain that allowed Mathieu to win?
Wout was on 30C
The team Jumbo-Visma also raced the Paris-Roubaix 2023 on the Vittoria Corsa tubeless but in size 700x30C for Wout Van Aert and Christophe Laporte.
If you watched the Paris-Roubaix 2023, then you know Van Aert and Laporte lost the race due to punctures at the worst time.
Before the start of the race, Mathieu has been photographed by the press with 700x28C tires.
It could have been a cunning plan to put the attention of his rivals away from the fact he and his teammate Jasper Philipsen were going to race on 700x32C on the Paves.
By the way, John Degenkolb was also racing on Vittoria Corsa Pro Tubeless in 700x32C width.
Unfortunately, we all know John had a different event than a flat tire depriving him disputing the chance to access the top march of the podium.
Could the tire size have cost the Paris-Roubaix wins to Wout Van Aert and Christophe Laporte?
We will never know.
However, the winner and the second were both in the 700x32C tire section.
Evolution of Bike Design
The advent of disc brakes and carbon has allowed road bikes to be designed with wider tire clearances than the rim brakes.
The weight limit of professional competition road bikes remains unchanged for many years at 6.8kg.
However, the technology of frame and parts design in the areas of aerodynamics, stiffness, reactivity, comfort, and efficiency of power transmission cumulated are allowing the riders to race faster every year.
Paris-Roubaix’ Gloveless Win
As I mentioned earlier, Mathieu Van Der Poel won the Paris-Roubaix 2023 with his “regular” Canyon Aeroad.
The only visible differences are the tires and the double-wrapped handlebar with Selle Italia bar tape.
By the way, when was the last time a rider won Paris-Roubaix without gloves?
I checked the whole list of Paris-Roubaix winners, and confirm Mathieu is the first winner on Paris-Roubaix without wearing gloves.
Go back and watch again the way he rode his Paris-Roubaix. He crossed all the cobblestones zones with the hands at the bottom of his handlebar’s drops.
The area where the handlebars flex the most.
To be able to ride this way, he spent most of his time in the front of the peloton in the cobles sectors.
It means he has more control over his trajectories and less needs to use the brakes to avoid a crashing rider.
If you look again at the race, you’ll notice most riders goes across the paves with their hands on the hoods or top of the handlebars.
Van Der Poel was not alone gloveless and hands at the bottom of the handlebar. But it required to be strong enough to stay in front in the cobblestones zones.
I often write about the GenZ not wearing gloves in the races, like Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogacar.
As he is born in 1995, Mathieu is a generation of the Millenials that ends in 1996.
We are very likely to see more gloveless winners on the Paris-Roubaix as the GenZ arrives at the forefront of pro cycling.
Editor’s Note: When writing this page I focused on the men race and history. I totally missed the fact that Lizzie Deignan did win the Paris-Roubaix Femmes in 2021, without gloves, and in the rain. Thank you Nick for reminding me women are also amazing athletes.
Mathieu’s Regular Bike
Mathieu Van Der Poel’s Canyon Aeroad bike is equipped with a Shimano Dura-Ace 12-speed groupset without any ceramic bearings or “secret” tuning. All is kept simple and effective.
The wheels are also Shimano, they are the Dura-Ace C50.
The front and rear disc brake rotors are 140mm in diameter.
You may also be interested in reading about Mathieu Van Der Poel’s Canyon Aeroad size here.
read also about his Canyon Inflite Cyclocross bike here.
Mathieu Van Der Poel races with a Canyon helmet, Oakley MVDP Signature Series Sutro Lite Sweep sunglasses, Kalas cycling jersey, and bib shorts.
MVDP wears the Shimano S-Phyre cycling shoes in white color with Shimano blue cleats.
It is a treat to watch Mathieu Van Der Poel racing. He is a powerful rider with amazing trajectory skills and the science of the race.
He belongs to the DMCX Hall of Fame.
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