Teams and contenders line up for 110th Paris-Roubaix
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Teams and contenders line up for 110th Paris-Roubaix

by Ben Atkins at 1:36 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
 
The big names will be the favourites as usual but a new generation awaits

paris-roubaixWith Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen still to come, race organiser ASO is already preparing for the second of cycling’s cobbled Monuments, Paris-Roubaix, the following Sunday, April 8th. With both races suiting the big, hard men, the favourites will be the same for both, but - while it is impossible to be a lucky winner in Roubaix - there are always a few surprises, with unfancied riders putting in unexpected performances.

After his spring campaign so far - especially his recent victories in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem - three-time winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) will start the race with the mantle of favourite to take a record equalling fourth title. As usual however, the big Belgian will have Swiss powerhouse Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) to contend with, as well as the likes of former World champion Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing).

While last year’s winner Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda) may have been something of a surprise, his victory was one of a strong team over the strongest rider as Garmin-Cervélo isolated Cancellara. Things will doubtless be different this year, as Vansummeren is unlikely to be allowed the same freedom, while Hushovd - who has since moved to the BMC Racing Team - will doubtless play a far more aggressive role this time.

While Boonen, Cancellara and Hushovd might well be the big three riders to watch, there are several other big names - some of whom are past podium finishers in the race - that will likely be in contention when the race arrives at the Carrefour de l’Arbre, the last major sector of cobbles.

Team Sky Juan Antonio Flecha, Hushovd’s BMC Racing teammate Alessandro Ballan, Vacansoleil-DCM duo Stijn Devolder and Björn Leukemans, Cancellara’s RadioShack-Nissan teammate Daniele Bennati, Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol) will all fancy their chances in a race that they have all performed in before.

As well as established stars, there will be a long line of young riders eager to make their mark in the Queen of the Classics. At 22 years of age Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) is the same age as Boonen was the year he took his first ever Roubaix podium and, after his performances in the early Semi-Classics in Belgium, the Slovakian champion has the quality to make his mark on the race.

John Degenkolb (Project 1t4i) and Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) are both a little older than Sagan, but both finished inside the top twenty in last year’s race. Both are improving and, if Vanmarcke’s defeat of Boonen in February’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is anything to go by, the 23-year-old Belgian will be one to watch on the Roubaix track, as well as on the cobbles.

After strong, but ultimately unsuccessful, starts to the Classics season so far, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky), Matt Goss (GreenEdge) and former two-time under-23 Roubaix champion Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) will all be out to impress.

As usual the host nations hopes will largely rest on the 40-year-old shoulders of Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ-BigMat), whose 1997 victory remains the last one for a Frenchman. The Breton has apparently recovered from the fractured hip that he sustained in a Tour Down Under crash, and hopes to end his eighteen-year professional career in style, in the race which made his name.

Twenty-five invited teams, with main contenders

Eighteen ProTeams
AG2R La Mondiale: Jimmy Casper (Fra)
Astana: Borut Božič (Slo), Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz)
BMC Racing Team: Alessandro Ballan (Ita), Thor Hushovd (Nor), Taylor Phinney (USA)
Euskaltel-Euskadi: Pierre Cazaux (Fra), Ruben Perez (Spa)
FDJ-BigMat: Steve Chainel and Frédéric Guesdon (both Fra)
Garmin-Barracuda: Tyler Farrar (USA), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Johan Vansummeren and Sep Vanmarcke (both Bel)
GreenEDGE Cycling: Matt Goss and Stuart O'Grady (both Aus)
Katusha Team: Vladimir Isaychev (Rus), Aleksandr Kuchynski (Blr)
Lampre-ISD: Danilo Hondo (Ger)
Liquigas-Cannondale: Peter Sagan (Svk), Daniel Oss (Ger)
Lotto-Belisol: Lars Bak (Den), André Greipel (Ger), Greg Henderson (NZl)
Movistar Team: Jose Ivan Gutiérrez and Jose Joaquin Rojas (both Spa)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Tom Boonen and Gert Steegmans (both Bel), Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)
Rabobank: Lars Boom and Maarten Tjallingii (both Ned), Matti Breschel (Den)
RadioShack-Nissan: Fabian Cancellara and Gregory Rast (both Swi), Tony Gallopin (Fra), Daniele Bennati (Ita)
Team Saxo Bank: Luke Roberts (Aus), Matteo Tosatto (Ita)
Team Sky: Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor)
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team: Stijn Devolder and Björn Leukemans (both Bel), Gustav Larsson (Swe)

Seven Professional Continental “wildcard” teams
Bretagne-Schuller: Johan Le Bon and Florian Vachon (both Fra)
Cofidis, le Crédit en Ligne: Leonardo Duque (Col), Adrien Petit (Fra)
Farnese Vini-Selle Italia : Filippo Pozzato (Ita)
Project 1t4i: John Degenkolb and Roger Kluge (both Ger)
Saur-Sojasun: Jimmy Engoulvent and Laurent Mangel (both Fra)
Team Europcar: Damien Gaudin, Said Haddou and SébastienTurgot (all Fra)
Team NetApp: Andre Schulze (Ger)

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