Sunday our riders race Paris-Roubaix. Even before they have done the race, I’m certain they will need more time to recuperate from this than from any other 260 km classic. The reason for this is simple: 28 sections of cobble stones totaling 52.8 km.
Over this total distance of cobbles, the body has to deal with more than 150,000 shocks that come through the bike to the rider. Pain in the neck, wrists, arms, shoulders and knees is commonly seen after Roubaix. It is abnormal for a professional cyclist to have this after any race. But even more abnormal is that the riders have to also deal with the delayed onset of muscle soreness.
In normal races over smooth roads, you never see the delayed onset of muscle soreness. Normally they have sensitive legs after a hard race, and the next day the pain subsides. But after racing Paris-Roubaix, riders often have the most painful and sore legs 24 to 36 hours after finishing the race.
This delayed onset of muscle soreness is normally a result of damage to the muscle by eccentric muscle contractions. Full recuperation from Roubaix takes two or three days more than normal.
So don’t touch their legs, don’t even point at them. Because it all hurts.