Paris-Roubaix: goats weed the Trouée d’Arenberg
While the cycle race Paris-Roubaix (Sunday April 9, 2023) is getting closer, the first preparations have been launched. This Wednesday, around forty goats and sheep were weeding the Trouée d’Arenberg, a mythical cobbled section of “the queen of classics” cycling and a listed site. This is a one-of-a-kind eco-grazing operation.
“The Biquettes of Hope”
The purpose of this operation is to prevent the 2,300 meter cobbled section from being impassable on race day. Thierry Gouvenou, “Mister Paris-Roubaix” within ASO, the organizing company, wishes to avoid that it turns into “Wimbledon”. The animals were then baptized “Les Biquettes de l’Espoir”.
“We realized during the Covid period, when the section had not been used for more than two years, that nature was quickly taking over. It had almost become a meadow”explained Thierry Gouvenou to AFP.
In action since February 7
After the race was canceled in 2020 and postponed to October 2021, the grass has grown enormously between the approximately 276,000 cobblestones in the area. After an in-depth mechanical cleaning before the year’s edition, the organizers thought about more ecological solutions, such as eco-grazing, consisting in bringing sheep regularly to the Trouée to eat the grass there.
Since February 7, around forty goats and sheep – “mostly goats because they eat more”according to Thierry Gouvenou – are thus at work until about ten days before the 120th edition of the race.
“It’s still a little greenish, but the ewes are removing all the tall grass. Afterwards, we will pass a sweeper again at the last moment”specifies the former runner, who intends to perpetuate this operation in the years to come.