KORTRIJK, Belgium (VN) — With three days until Paris-Roubaix, and months of preparation complete, the main favorites now are simply waiting with the hope that the stars of training, recovery, form and luck will align for them on Sunday.
Of course there is still some light riding to be done to keep the legs and mind limber. Most teams are using Thursday and Friday for reconnaissance rides on key pavé sectors of the course. Some riders are putting on clean bandages after crashing Wednesday at Scheldeprijs.
Defending champion Fabian Cancellara said his preparation from the beginning of the year until now has been perfect. “I think I have done everything right,” he said.
After impressive performances at Harelbeke and the Tour of Flanders, Cancellara is clearly on good form, and comes into Roubaix with the unique support of another former Roubaix winner, Stuart O’Grady.
The Australian Leopard-Trek rider won Roubaix in 2007, a race that was hot and dry, as this Sunday’s contest is predicted to be.
“We have worked really hard as a team since Qatar (in early February),” O’Grady said. “All the ideas have been on (Flanders) and (this) Sunday. It’s all coming together. We have to come together with calm confidence … and let the Swiss machine do the rest.”
For Sunday, Cancellara is keenly aware that he will have to take on more fluids than he did at last weekend’s Tour of Flanders, where he missed a feed and ended up cramping on the Muur.
World champion Thor Hushovd found himself in the same boat at Flanders, but said he is feeling “good and confident” for Roubaix.
“I also had problems with cramps at Flanders,” he said. “It was a really hard race. It was a more technical course than we’ve seen in other years. It was completely different than everybody thought. Maybe we can expect the same conditions in Roubaix.”
Sunday’s forecast for the area is calling for a high of 64 degrees. The race will likely be at least six hours long.
Hushovd and Cancellara each rode Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs, but made a point of dropping off the back of the field before the fight for sprint position began. They both finished unscathed.
Other riders weren’t so lucky.
Tom Boonen, Paris-Roubiax champion in 2005, 2008 and 2009, found himself on the ground twice at Scheldeprijs. He finished, but was a little scratched up.
George Hincapie, second in 2005 to Boonen, also hit the deck at Scheldeprijs.
American Tyler Farrar went sliding across the tarmac in the Scheldeprijs sprint, however only sustained bruising and road rash on his left side. Belgian Sjef De Wilde (Veranda’s Willems-Accent) was caught up in the same crash and broke two ribs and a vertebra as well as sustaining a concussion. Team Sky’s Edvald Boassan Hagen broke three ribs in another Scheldeprijs crash.
“I know a couple of other guys went down, including Wouter Weylandt, who’s my best friend,” Farrar said. “I hope everyone’s OK. The team rode perfectly. I’m grateful for the hard work everyone did. Now we look ahead to Sunday.”
Although Team Sky is now missing Boassan Hagen, they have a veteran Roubaix rider in Juan Antonio Flecha, who has been on the podium at Roubaix three times, with his best result being second behind O’Grady in 2007.
“I’m feeling great,” Flecha said Wednesday. “I had fun at Flanders. That’s what I expect Sunday, the same fun.”
North Americans scheduled for 2011 Paris-Roubaix
- Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo): 13th at Flanders, DNF at Scheldeprijs
- George Hincapie (BMC): 6th at Flanders, DNF at Scheldeprijs
- Steven Cozza (NetApp): DNS Flanders or Scheldeprijs
- Dominique Rollin (Française des Jeux): 15th at Flanders, DNS at Scheldeprijs
- Ted King (Liquigas): DNF at Flanders, DNS at Scheldeprijs
- David Veilleux (Europcar): 129th at Flanders, 45th at Scheldeprijs
- Ben King (RadioShack) DNS at Flanders, 61st at Scheldeprijs
- Bjorn Selander (RadioShack: DNS at Flanders, 39th at Scheldeprijs
(John Murphy (BMC) is listed as a replacement.)
How last year’s Roubaix top 10 has fared recently
- 1. Fabian Cancellara: 3rd at Flanders, 158th at Scheldeprijs (1st, Harelbeke)
- 2. Thor Hushovd: 53rd at Flanders, 166th at Scheldeprijs
- 3. Juan Antonio Flecha: 11th at Flanders, 147th at Scheldeprijs
- 4. Roger Hammond: 108th at Flanders, 81st at Scheldeprijs
- 5. Tom Boonen: 4th at Flanders, 81st at Scheldeprijs (1st, Ghent-Wevelgem)
- 6. Bjorn Leukemans: 7th at Flanders, 118th at Scheldeprijs
- 7. Filippo Pozzato: 38th at Flanders, DNS at Scheldeprijs
- 8. Leif Hoste: Crashed and broke teeth at De Panne
- 9. Sébastien Hinault: 45th at Flanders, 123rd at Scheldeprijs
- 10. Hayden Roulston: Not present at classics this year