Has it really come to this? That because of the dominance of two riders and specifically one team, a team that are positively Jumbo-sized in their win rate so far this season, we’ve all become a bit non-plussed?

And wait a second, hang on at the back there, nobody said anything about Gewiss-Ballan, and nobody’s going to because that is all in the past, even though a scientist who helped develop the original EPO tests says ‘nothing has changed‘, but yeah, nothing to see here, let us continue…

Are some non-fussed? Not bothered? How can it be that cycling fans have possibly become even a tad callous about this year’s edition of the greatest one day race on the cycling calendar… the mighty Paris-Roubaix?

Twice this week I’ve encountered people who have said just that to me, that they are decidedly not excited about the men’s P-R this weekend because they believe that only one of two riders – VDP and WVA – can win it.

VDP wins Milan-San Remo

And I kind of see that they are getting at…

Look everywhere and the podiums these days are awash with yellow of Jumbo Visma. If it’s not WVA on top spot it’s Laporte, if not Vingegaard then it’s Roglic. 5 wins out of 6 of the big classic cobble races this season, a win at the Volta a Catalunya and it looks like another for JV at the Itzulia Basque Country as he leads the race.

Roglic put on a masterclass to bear Evenepoel at the Volta

As for Van der Poel, his win at Milan-San Remo was a tour de force, he spanked that one out of the park, incredible finale and a great win, and Roubaix this year has his initials written all over it. Others think it’ll be WVA, and generally that’s it.

One of those two.

Others that have been mentioned, or perhaps whispered is the correct word, almost out of politeness, are Van Baarle, Mohoric, Kung and Ganna. These are very good riders no doubt, but they are not in the same class as VDP and WVA.

And yet yes, they could win. Someone else could too, as Van Summeren did, racing to an improbable win as the favourites mark each other into a stalemate.

But let’s face it, it is very likely to be ‘one of those two’.

WVA celebrates the win at E3

We’ve kind of been here before, with Boonen and Cancellara… but this is different. VDP we could compare to Cancellara perhaps. A big man who is designed for these kind of Classics and can also take stages at the Tour. He rides without a team, more or less, as Cancellara often did, the sheer power he holds in this legs enough to force his way to victory.

Yet VDP is a multiple world cyclocross champion, not ‘just’ a crusher of dreams on the asphalt. He’s omnipresent in the cycling calendar. The cycling public can’t get enough of him, and that’s for the good, as there no way of getting away from him.

WVA has a super team, similar to Boonen in some years, but Boonen’s team were really only built for the classics and to take sprint stages at the tours. WVA and his team, we have (at least in my memory) not been seen before. They are capable of winning Grand Tours, cyclocross titles, sprint stages, short multi-stage tours and the Monuments. WVA himself? He can win cyclocross world champs, smash the best in the world in one dayers, and one his day he can match the best climbers in the world at the dog-end of a Tour.

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Incredible… and a bit boring. It just is, that’s the way it goes when one team dominates a sport.

There’s only one other rider that comes into the picture between these two (Tom Pidcock also maybe if he becomes more consistent), and that is the other worldly Tadej Pogacar, who showed his power at Flanders last weekend. He’s not lining up on Sunday though, which is a shame, but no doubt he’ll be there next year as his aim, as stated after the Ronde, is top win all 5 Monuments. He ‘only’ needs two more…

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However, I for one can’t wait for Sunday’s event, and indeed for the women’s race on Saturday (only the third, which is shameful really).

Yes, the likely winner will be one of the Super Heroes. Yes, there may be a surprise winner. Yes, Jumbo dominate way too much. Yes, on his day VDP can ride away from the rest like they’re kids on trikes.

But hey, it’s Paris-Mother-F$cking-Roubaix.

So sit down, get settled, suspend that disbelief, and lap it up.

The Greatest Race on Earth is back.

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

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