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2018 Paris–Roubaix

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In an effort to see the race frequently as well as in the right places/sectors, Manual for Speed commissioned former MFS European Correspondent Raoul Sturme to build us a “Storm Chase Plan of Attack” aka SCPOA. The SCPOA consisted of six vague but dialed-as-fuck-in-their-own-way instructions.


From: Raoul
Date: Sat, Apr 7, 2018 at 11:02 AM
Subject: Roubaix
To: “” <>


  1. First you go to a spot before Noyon, don’t pass noyon!
  2. After the race has passed you take the N934 to the A1 Freeway. Then you take the A29 to Saint Quentin and search for the little roundabout in town, remember?! where we shot them from the roundabout.
  3. From Saint quentin, you need to drive to Inchy, but you always have to stay LEFT of the course!!! (you can see the roads you need to take easily on the map). In Inchy you hit the course again and you are entering the first pavé 29. They made some changes here, more pavés in a row. You can try to drive to Pave 26 Quievy and there you need to go off course again.
  4. Exit the course at Quievy in direction Cambrai and navigate to denain/haveluy. Make sure you stay left of the course again. On the road to Denain you see on the map the willage HASPRES, cross this village and you’re hitting course again in haveluy. From there you can try to drive on course to the forrest!
  5. After the forrest you pass all dropped racers and on pave 18, the pave after the forrest, at the end you go the right, exit the course in direction Hasnon. That road is easy to see on the race map. cross the freeway and drive to beuvry la foret. that’s the pave where we shot them once from the freeway.
  6. Drive to Roubaix
  7. Good luck



On April 1, 2018 the DCWF crew—@manualforspeed, @sjhockett, @justinbalog and @justinbalog’s wife, Shauna—woke up at 6:00am in Gent, Belgium. The drive from Gent to Compiègne [C-R doesn’t start in Paris it’s starts in Compiègne] takes approximately 2 hours and 27 minutes to complete. @sjhockett was the crew’s official co-pilot. As such he was equipped with two road books, an iPhone 3G, an external battery charger, a BiC® pen and several pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This was @sjhockett’s first storm chase, as evidenced by the fact that until this morning he had never heard of a “split time.”

We left the start area twenty minutes before the start of the race. We didn’t drive the course because in retrospect we just kinda fucked that up and didn’t think through what we were doing. Also in the past we’ve never done that at this race. Also our car was NOT parked anywhere near the course. Furthermore we thought it would be easier to go around the course on faster roads. Unfortunately Steve routed us to the course on the far side of Noyon aka just past Noyon. In the fullness of time, and because nobody needed to see a neutral parade pelican jog up a slow rise, we skipped Noyon and chalked the miscommunication (brain fart) up to nerves and sweaty palms.

Julien Duval’s Commute to Sign-In


Navigating the scrum/feeding frenzy/queue/throng/festival takes patience and skill.



We remembered! This town is lovely. There is always a fair with balloons and nuts for sale and hundreds of old people in great hats and hair to photograph. People hang out of their windows. The race is boring at this stage, but often times dudes bunnyhop up various medians and road furniture so that’s cool. Plus we parked in the same spot as last year.



Because there was some confusion about Step 3 from the start—was Raoul indicating/suggesting two photo opportunities or one?—we called him to confirm. Just one, somewhere on 29, 28, 27 or 26. We got on the course at the start of sector 28. @manualforspeed was convinced the right move was to shoot sector 26/Quievy in the corner because @manualforspeed loves that corner. The drive took about forty minutes and we had a margin of +/- 15 minutes assuming everything went right which never happens but we made it with just enough time for a French woman to physically slap and verbally assault @manualforspeed seconds before the race came past.



Okay I’ll be honest with you, this drive was a motherfucker but somehow we made it. We entered the course on a pretty SIQ pave section right before Arenberg. There was some talk of shooting the race there because it was out in the open and dusty and the light was great, plus the crowds were good. Also, photographically speaking Arenberg is a butthole. It’s dark, you can’t really go in, and it’s so cliché. Coincidentally, after pushing on we discovered the Trench was CLOSED to the caravan for the first time ever. The subsequent detour totally fucked us. The next forty min was one of the most stressful driving experiences any of us had ever experienced ever. We spent as much time driving in reverse as we did driving in forward. We missed the race on the backside of the forest then scrambled to get to the backside of Sector 18 before the race came past but failed. Never leave a spot to get to a spot! Repeat after me:


Defeated, we drove straight to Beuvry La Foret. As far as sectors goes this puppy is kinda basic and uninspired. Also, it’s right next to a freeway. Listen, it’s just not a first date sector is all I’m saying. Whatever, we got to see dudes bunny-hop dogs, I almost got run over at least three times and I’m pretty sure this is basically where Sagan made his WINNING move. So yeah, while it’s maybe not a ritzy sector or whatever, it’s got pedigree now bitch.



We made it to Roubaix in spite of the car having been on empty for the last hour without time to fill up. Good news though, when we got there my friend Elizabeth who works for Oakley gave all three of us a pair of the Future to wear. I got blue Future, Justin got white Future and Steve got black Future. I think Shauna was sleeping at the time and that’s why she didn’t get any Future for her face.



Storm Chasing is always difficult but Storm Chasing Roubaix is particularly difficult. That said this was the hardest and least productive day of race coverage in Manual for Speed’s history. Also I think we almost broke Steve “That Was A Seven-Hour Panic Attack” Hockett.

“In the end, maybe any shit show is worth watching Sagan win that race from the infield in the Velodrome. For the record we were four for six on Raoul’s list!”

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