1896 Paris–Roubaix

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1896 Paris–Roubaix
Race details
Date 19 April
Distance 280 km (174.0 mi)
Winning time 9h 17' 00" (30.162 km/h or 18.742 mph)
Winner  Josef Fischer (GER)
Second  Charles Meyer (DEN)
Third  Maurice Garin (FRA)

The 1896 Paris–Roubaix was the 1st edition of the Paris–Roubaix, a classic one-day cycle race in France. The single day event was held on 19 April 1896 and stretched 280 km (174 mi) from Paris to its end in a velodrome in Roubaix.[1] The winner was Josef Fischer from Germany who was given 1000 francs for the win, a considerable sum of money at the time.[2][3][4] The race, as all editions to 1909, was motorpaced.[3]


The race was created by two Roubaix textile manufacturers, Théodore Vienne and Maurice Perez, who had built a velodrome in Roubaix and wished to promote the track.[5] It was first presented to the sponsor, Le Vélo, as a training race for the then well established, now defunct, Bordeaux–Paris.[3][6] Roubaix at the time was a small provincial town, a professional bike race finishing there would be very good for business.

Paul Rousseau, the director of Le Vélo, agreed to start the race outside the paper's offices in Paris. He devised a route and sent out Victor Breyer, the man who stood at the top of the Tourmalet in 1910 and was called a 'murderer' by a rider, to test the route. Breyer drove to Amiens, and then continued by bike the following day. When he reached Roubaix, he was cold and covered in mud. He was miserable enough to suggest the race be called off, a shower and a good meal changed his mind.[7]

Race overview[edit]

As many as half the riders who were supposed to ride stayed in bed, including Henri Desgrange, who later organised the first Tour de France. Notably, the winner of that first Tour de France, Maurice Garin, did ride and came third and went on to win the following two editions.[6][8]

The race was full of incident, Welshman Arthur Linton, who came 4th, crashed six times, once hitting a dog. The winner, Josef Fischer, had a lead of 23 minutes until he was almost knocked off by a horse and then halted by cows. When Fischer entered the velodrome in Roubaix he was covered in filth and blood. Only three other riders finished within an hour, all in similar conditions.[7]


A man posing while sitting on a bike.
Josef Fischer won the first ever Paris–Roubaix.
Final results (1-10)[9]
Rank Cyclist Time
1  Josef Fischer (GER) 9h 17' 00″
2  Charles Meyer (DEN) +25' 00″
3  Maurice Garin (FRA) +28' 00″
4  Arthur Linton (GBR) +45' 00″
5  Lucien Stein (FRA) +1h 01' 00″
6  Boinet (FRA) +1h 01' 50″
7  Emile van Berendonck (BEL) +1h 07' 50″
8  Henri Aries (FRA) +1h 43' 00″
9  Gaston Pachot (FRA) +2h 02' 00″
10  Pierre Mercier (FRA) +2h 16' 00″


  1. ^ "Vélocipédie". Le Petit journal (in French) (Gallica Bibliothèque Numérique). 19 April 1896. p. 3. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Vélocipédie". Le Petit journal (in French) (Gallica Bibliothèque Numérique). 20 April 1896. p. 3. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Janna Trevisanut (9 April 2004). "102nd Paris Roubaix Preview". Le Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Race winners since 1896". Le Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Sergent, Pascal (1989). Chronique d'une légende: Paris–Roubaix. Chronique d'une Légende 1 (Flandria Nostra). pp. 13–18. 
  6. ^ a b Staff (10 April 2009). "Paris–Roubaix - A History". Daily Peloton (Info Média Conseil Inc.). Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "The real Hell of the North". Cyclingnews.com (Bath, UK: Future plc). 2004-04-18. Retrieved 2012-09-26. 
  8. ^ "Podiums Paris roubaix Pro" (French) lesamisdeparisroubaix.com Retrieved 2010-02-21
  9. ^ a b "Cycling - Paris–Roubaix - 1896". The-Sports.org (Info Média Conseil Inc.). Retrieved 11 August 2011.