The Trouée d'Arenberg, Tranchée d'Arenberg, (Trench of Arenberg), Trouee de Wallers Arenberg, has become the symbol of Paris-Roubaix. Officially 'La Drève des Boules d'Herin', the 2400m of cobbles were laid in the time of Napoleon through the Raismes Forest-Saint-Amand-Wallers, close to Wallers and Valenciennes. The road was proposed for Paris-Roubaix by former professional Jean Stablinski, who had worked in the mine under the woods of Arenberg. The mine closed in 1990 and the passage is now preserved. Although almost 100 km from Roubaix, the sector usually proves decisive and as Stablinski said,
“ Paris-Roubaix is not won in Arenberg, but from there the group with the winners is selected. ”
A memorial to him stands at one end of the road.
Introduced in 1968, the passage was closed from 1974 to 1983 by the Office National des Fôrets. Until 1998 the entry to the Arenberg pavé was slightly downhill, leading to a sprint for best position. The route was reversed in 1999 to reduce the speed. This was as a result of Johan Museeuw's crash in 1998 as World Cup leader, which nearly cost his leg to gangrene. In 2005 the Trouée d'Arenberg was left out, organisers saying conditions had deteriorated beyond safety limits. Abandoned mines had caused sections to subside. The regional and local councils spent €250,000 on adding 50 cm to restore the original width of three metres and the race continued using it. The Italian rider Filippo Pozzato said after trying the road after its repairs:
It's the true definition of hell. It's very dangerous, especially in the first kilometre when we enter it at more than 60kh. It's unbelievable. The bike goes in all directions. It will be a real spectacle but I don't know if it's really necessary to impose it on us.