|Reviews & Columns
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
2006 Paris-Roubaix: Against All Odds
Paris-Roubaix is known as the "Queen of the Classics" and also as the "Hell of the North," perfectly capturing both sides of the cycling race that captures the hearts of the riders themselves as well as the fans. The race runs over 26 separate sections of pave (cobbled roads) take the riders through a grueling physical challenge. Sometimes there's mud and rain; other times there are choking clouds of dust thrown up by the wheels of the bicycles and the support cars; sometimes the weather is bright and sunny, making this brutal course through the French countryside deceptively beautiful, like a Sunday club ride. But no matter what the surface conditions are, all the riders know that it will take strength, skill, tactics, and a generous helping of luck to be the first rider to pass the finish line in the velodrome at Roubaix.
The 2006 Paris-Roubaix turned out to be quite memorable. The race came one week after the Tour of Flanders, with World Champion Tom Boonen riding high on his victory there. George Hincapie also had a strong finish on the podium in Flanders, and came to Paris-Roubaix in top-notch form, with a killer drive to win and a strong team to support him. Hincapie has wanted to add a win at Paris-Roubaix to his palmares for years, but things don't always turn out as they're supposed to, though; Hincapie's race ended up being very memorable, but unfortunately not in the way he wanted it to. The field was both strong and deep. Apart from Boonen and Hincapie, other strong riders included one of my personal favorites, Peter Van Petegem, riding for Davitamon; CSC's Fabian Cancellara; Spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha, riding for Rabobank; Steffen Wesemann, for T-Mobile; and many others.
The race itself was an aggressive one, with a lot of breakaway attempts and efforts by the teams to bring back the escaped riders. Thanks to super-aggressive riding by Flecha and Boonen, we got to see a lot of exciting attacks and counterattacks as well as solo performances. The Forest of Arenberg was added back in for the 2006 edition (having been resurfaced barely in time for the race), which was great to see: the Forest is always a tough section that challenges riders. In addition to its usual drama, the 2006 edition of Paris-Roubaix was also a race that had more than the usual share of mishaps. An incoming train blocked some riders, while others were ultimately disqualified for breaking race rules and scooting past the railway crossing after the "stop" signal lights were flashing. Crashes - one of them due to a catastrophic bike failure! - ended the Roubaix dreams for several of the favorites, until next year.
The complete race coverage here runs four hours... only two hours less than the total race time of about six hours! That's quite complete coverage. Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen do the commentary, as always; Sherwen does a nice job (also as usual) of getting pre-race interviews. He goes out the day before to talk with the top riders, including a relaxed and confident George Hincapie, among others. Without the time pressure of the start time, the interviews are more substantial and make for a very nice start for the DVD coverage.
Paris-Roubaix is a two-disc set, with the race equally split between the two DVDs. The discs are packaged in a single-wide keepcase.
The footage for Paris-Roubaix 2006 is in the usual 1.33:1 television aspect ratio. Colors are bright and vibrant, with the riders' team jerseys looking clear and easily visible. The picture overall is crisp, with a bit of edge enhancement but not too much. Some digital picture break-up appears at times, but it's not an issue of the DVD, but of the satellite link for the television broadcast: under the difficult conditions of filming the riders, it's almost inevitable to get some problems.
The stereo soundtrack is crisp and clear, with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen's commentary coming across as clear and easy to understand.
On Disc 1, we get a brief clip of "Coffee House (Pre-Paris-Roubaix), paired with Disc 2's "Night on the Town (Pre-Paris-Roubaix)" featurette, two minutes long. These are very informal featurettes, with Phil and Paul wandering around and talking to the camera; beer is often involved. If you're a long-time WCP fan, you'll get a kick out of seeing our beloved commentators, perhaps a bit tipsy, hanging out with us viewers... a bit odd, but fun. We also get the start lists for all the teams printed on the reverse side of the cover insert.
If you've enjoyed Paris-Roubaix in the past, it's a no-brainer to pick up this DVD. The 2006 version has a lot of exciting "incidents" in it, as well as offering the usual thrilling race over the cobbles. It's hotly contested with a field with a lot of great stars. Highly recommended.