Some old ones, some new ones ahead of the Hell of the North

Perhaps it’s the pavé, perhaps it’s the unique demands that it places on bikes and riders alike, but there’s something about Paris-Roubaix that makes for compelling viewing. In the internet age, plenty of teams and others associated with the race put out short films ahead of it, plus it’s also the subject of one of the most famous of all cycling films, A Sunday In Hell. Here’s a selection to help whet your appetite for tomorrow’s race.

Ask Daniele Bennati today in his native Italian when Paris-Roubaix is taking place and he’d reply, ‘domani’ – which if you’ve been following developments on the tech side is also of course the name of the new bike from Trek that he and his RadioShack team mates will be riding tomorrow. Here they are on a recce earlier this week, with added camera shake. Just 50-odd kilometres of that pavé to get over.

Here’s the ‘making of’ video behind the bike. Cancellara won’t be riding of course after breaking his collarbone in the Tour of Flanders last week. The bikes will be there, though.

In the absence of Spartacus, Tom Boonen is the big favourite. Team technical advisor Rolf Aldag, previously with HTC-Highroad, explains how the Specialized Roubaix Tommeke will be riding has been adapted to minimise the vibration from the pavé. Oh, and if Moby makes you irrationally angry, hit the mute button…

Here’s a video from a couple of years back. Michael Barry of Team Sky is another rider sitting the race out this year after breaking his arm in February’s Tour of Qatar – he was back on the bike a couple of days ago for his first outing in a while with regular training partner David Millar who broke his collarbone in last month’s E3 Harelbeke. Here’s Barry’s video of Team Sky’s 2010 Paris-Roubaix recce.

You’ll see Mavic’s yellow liveried mechanics and neutral service vehicles on all ASO races, but Paris-Roubaix provides them with a unique challenge. Here’s how they rose to it last year.

Another film from last year, this time from Holland Sport, and it’s one that’s beautifully shot in black and white, slowing the action right down so you can see the battering the riders and their bikes get from the pavé. Exquisite.

For all those short videos put out by teams, riders and others, when you talk about Paris-Roubaix being captured on film, the one that comes immediately to mind is Jorgen Leth’s 1976 classic, A Sunday In Hell. Now commentating for Danish TV, tomorrow Leth will be followed by a film crew producing a sequel-cum-hommage to his iconic work.

Here’s the background to the film currently being made about Leth, called simply, The Commentator. It’s being made thanks to crowdfunding secured via Kickstarter.

Thrills, spills and a marriage proposal at the end of it. We’re guaranteed to see two of the three tomorrow, but did the winner set a precedent last year that will have unmarried contenders quaking on the cobbles? Relive the 2011 edition here before settling down to watch this year’s race.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.