ASO Used Goats to Clean the Paris-Roubaix’s Arenberg Forest Cobbles

By Monica Buck

Every year, the cobblestones that host Paris-Roubaix must be cleaned of mud, grass and weeds, which cover them over the winter. Rather than using weed killers or lawn mowers, the Paris-Roubaix organiser decided to go for a more ecological solution this year. The most infamous sector of pavé was cleaned by the likes of Ginette and Caouette, a herd of goats, around 40 in size.

“This is the first time we’ve used this method,” ASO’s race designer Thierry Gouvenou told Cycling Weekly. “During Covid, we realised that the grass in the Forest of Arenberg was growing back really quickly, so we said we needed to find solutions. Why not eco-grazing?”

The herd is part of an eco-grazing project called ‘Les Biquettes de l’Espoir’. The project promotes endangered species of French domestic goats and threatened regional Boulonnais sheep. Normally, the animals are used to remove invasive species such as the Japanese knotweed. However, this time, they were chewing on 2,300 metres of cycling royalty.

The pavé will now be cleaned of anything Ginette and her friends left behind to become ready for the second weekend in April. The Women’s Paris-Roubaix will take place on Saturday, April 8, and the men’s Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, April 9.

We’ll be there to inspect the goats’ work. What about you?