Is missing Tadej Pogacar…

“He’s always a partner in crime and he already showed that he’s good on the cobbles in the Tour de France last year when he was also in front here. It’s always nice to race with strong competitors, but there will be enough strong riders on Sunday.

“Filippo Ganna will be really good, and Mads Pedersen. Wout van Aert, of course. In Roubaix, you can name 10-20 riders who can win the race. Given the circumstances, you need a bit of luck as well. For sure I’m among the favorites but it’s really difficult to pick out one top favorite for this race.”

After last year’s race he said he was ‘the most broken of all’.

On WVA’s chances…

“It is clear that he is not the absolute top favorite.”


Says he needs to find his legs…

“I’m suffering a little bit from my knee and my ribs after Flanders, a bit more than I initially thought on Sunday. Until now, I haven’t really had a great feeling on the bike the last few days. I did two decent trainings today and yesterday and I hope I can recover a bit more before Sunday and find my legs again.”

Hoping for dry stones…

“I hope they will be completely different, because it was muddy and wet today. I think also the forecast will be more dried out. I did a wet Roubaix two years ago. It was not really pleasant and I’m hoping that Sunday will probably be dry,” Van Aert said.

“It’s a lot harder to handle the bike [when it’s wet] and especially harder to ride in someone’s wheels, you want to have a bit of vision of what is happening in front of you because it makes it even easier to split.”


Still in recovery from the crash at the Ronde…

“When I came home after Flanders and I was barely moving, the team said there is no chance you are racing at Roubaix but I said, no no, wait, I think I can. I have road rash and burning skin, because the speed was so high. I think when you crash at like 75kmph like that, it mostly burns, the skin is shiny, very painful and inflamed. I’ve skipped the recon today and I will do it alone tomorrow because I need an extra day to recover.

Winning M-SR last year.

“Roubaix was the main target of the season for me, that’s why, even when I had a bad crash in Flanders, I didn’t want to give up doing the race. I stayed focused and I think I’m going to be ready for Sunday to at least give it a shot. This race is not like you need to be one hundred percent to be up there in the mix, it’s a different race and you need to be lucky as well. There were situations before when not necessarily the riders with the strongest legs won. Many things can happen, many riders will crash or have a mechanical.”

On his bike set up…

“I do like to be involved, I like to test new things but it is mostly the mechanics who are on top of things. They constantly help us to be half a step ahead of our competitors. I’m confident that we have one of the best setups that’s possible at the moment. I think it’s one of the crucial things that you want as a cyclist to know that you’re not behind the competition regarding material, because then you worry they already have a head start, and it’s not a good thing for your confidence.

“My bicycle is exactly the same as I have used in all other races or Classics, my Merida Reacto. It is the same except for the tyres we swapped. Instead of 30 millimetre tyres that we usually use, or 28 when the roads are really smooth, we will use 32 millimetre tyres. The pressure is not crazy low because you have the Forest of Arenberg, where the cobbles are super rough, and therefore the pressure needs to be relatively high. because otherwise you will not make it through Arenberg without damaging the wheel itself because it’s so rough.

“You hit the rim on multiple occasions, maybe 10 times, even with a relatively high pressure. The pressure is similar to what you would use on a smooth tarmac for optimal rolling resistance, so it’s not actually a big difference. If there was no Arenberg, then of course, you would go significantly lower, but I prefer to roll higher and be slower on the smooth cobblestones but then survive Arenberg.”


Is this supposed to be fun..?

“Some people say Paris-Roubaix is a fun race, but it’s not like that for everyone: sure, it is for the people who watch it on television or from the side of the road, but the riders can’t exactly talk like that. You have to be a little crazy to love the Roubaix. It’s a painful race, it puts the body to the test.

 “You have to arrive with as much energy as possible at the Trouée d’Arenberg, then it will be hell. It will take a lot of luck: those who do not puncture and fall are likely to find themselves among the leaders at the decisive moment.”


UAE’s main man…

“The sensations in Flanders were really good and as a team we played our cards perfectly. I’m happy with my condition and could be up there in the final so it’s positive for the objectives ahead. Obviously, Paris-Roubaix is a very different race with different characteristics but we are focused and motivated to go for a good result.”


Favours WVA…

 “In Roubaix, there is also no Oude Kwaremont or an alien Tadej Pogacar. Moreover, Van Aert will lose less energy than his opponents on the cobblestones due to his technical background as a crosser.

“But the most interesting question is about the role of Dylan van Baarle , last year’s winner who has recovered from his fall in E3. Will he be 200 per cent in the service of Van Aert or is he the substitution leader?

“His lieutenant Christophe Laporte also dreams of winning. If the opportunity arises, he will not pass it up.”


Jayco AlUla: Durbridge (AUS) and Stybar (CZE)
Bahrain Victorious: Mohoric (SLO) and Wright (GBR)
Soudal-Quick-Step: Merlier, Lampaert (BEL), Asgreen (DAN) and Senechal (FRA)
Lotto Dstny: De Lie, Vermeersch and Frison (BEL)
Alpecin-Deceuninck: Van der Poel (NED), Dillier (SUI) and Groves (AUS)
Intermarche-Circus-Wanty: Girmay (ERI) and Rex (BEL)
Bingoal-WB: Van Keirsbulck (BEL)
Team Flanders-Baloise: Van Poucke (BEL)
AG2R Citroen: Van Avermaet, O. Naesen and Dewulf (BEL)
Cofidis: Walscheid (GER) and Wallays (BEL)
Groupama-FDJ: Demare (FRA) and Kung (SUI)
TotalEnergies: Sagan (SVK), A. Turgis (FRA) and Bodnar (POL)
Arkea-Samsic: Hofstetter, Louvel (FRA) and McLay (GBR)
BORA-hansgrohe: Politt (GER) and Archbold (NZL)
Israel-Premier Tech: Vanmarcke and Van Asbroeck (BEL)
Astana Qazaqstan: Moscon (ITA) and Bol (NED)
Jumbo-Visma: Van Aert (BEL), Laporte (FRA) and Van Baarle (NED)
DSM: Degenkolb (GER) and Eekhoff (NED)
Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: Kristoff and Tiller (NOR)
Movistar Team: Garcia Cortina, Lazkano (ESP) and Norsgaard Jorgensen (DEN)
Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team: Devriendt (BEL)
UAE Team Emirates: Bjerg (DEN), Ackermann (GER) and Trentin (ITA)
Ineos Grenadiers: Ganna (ITA) and Kwiatkowski (POL)
EF Education-EasyPost: Bisseger (SUI), Keukeleire (BEL) and Bettiol (ITA)
Trek-Segafredo: Stuyven (BEL) and M. Pedersen (DEN)

Author: Lee Rodgers

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

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