Fresh from our success with last weeks Flanders predictions, it would be easy to simply copy and paste the editorial and keep with a Cancellara/Boonen theme with our Paris-Roubaix preview. However here at Probikekit we thought that we would take a slightly different stance on the run up to one of the world’s most iconic races and instead, focus on some of the teamwork that will be in evidence and pay homage to the forces in the peloton often unseen by the over enthusiastic slightly inebriated fan who assumes that because Cancellara takes 1st place, he did so by simply riding faster than everyone else. (Well he did actually, but we all know there’s more to it than that!)
Team Sky: Watch out for the great synergy between Australian Matthew Hayman and the Spaniard Juan-Antonio Flecha. Hayman who was hand-picked by Team Sky not simply for his work ethic in the peloton, but also for his experience in the Classics. Paris-Roubaix is a race that typifies Hayman’s style of riding. He is just the sort of guy you want in a hard race where there is no-where to hide and Flecha will be protected and covered all the way. Flecha is a rider that lives for the cobbled classics and with Hayman leading the way, there’s a strong chance you’ll see him tucked in behind the Aussie waiting to make his move. Throw Ian Stannard into the mix, who’s 3rd in the brutal weather of Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne this year showed Team Sky’s strength in depth and there’s potential.
Saxo Bank: No-one can deny that Fabian Cancellara is in some of the best form of his life at the moment and with his Flanders win, he’ll be looking to get away again and arrive into the Stade Velodrome to spoil Boonen’s hat trick party. Who better to have alongside him then, than the 2007 winner – Stuart O’Grady? The 36 year old veteran is just the rider to have in your corner. He knows the course and what it takes to win and has the racing pedigree to make this a double act worthy of respect. His DNF in Flanders last week will only serve to make him more determined to make an impact.
BMC Racing: This year BMC Racing signalled their intention to take on the classics by their spring quartet of Ballan, Hincapie, Burghardt and Kroon. Paris-Roubaix has been an elusive dream for Hincapie and the former HTC-Columbia rider will be desperate to get his name on the roster of legends before father time calls him in. He knows all too well after a previous Roubaix foray into a ditch, that concentration and a lot of luck will play a huge part in the result on Sunday. His stable mate Alessandro Ballan is a perfect team-mate for the American, with his poor season in 2009, the Italian will be looking to shed the curse of the Rainbow jersey and get back to the form that everyone knows he’s capable of.
Quick Step: By far the strongest team for the race on Sunday. Boonen will want to make it three in a row and fortunately for him, he has two of the best possible riders to work with. Stijin Devolder is a proven classics rider and the peloton will have to keep an eye on both him and Boonen which could cause the confusion needed to get away. Add Sylvain Chavanel into the fold and the race has an attacking force that will split the peloton in half in a heartbeat.
As is the norm now, get out early on your bike then settle in with your recovery drink, (any Belgian beer) for an afternoon of European racing at its best.