Hushovd not giving up on Paris-Roubaix dream
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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Hushovd not giving up on Paris-Roubaix dream

by VeloNation Press at 4:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
 
“I still believe that I have a chance of winning”

Thor HushovdAlthough he’s yet to show strong form this year and had a quiet showing in last Sunday’s Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Thor Hushovd remains convinced that it’s possible he could take Paris-Roubaix in three days’ time.

The BMC Racing Team rider tried to win the race last year as world champion, but came up against a very powerful Fabian Cancellara, who quickly made it clear that he was the strongest. Realising that it would be very difficult to get the better of the Swiss rider and also that it had another in a good position to go for the win, the Garmin Cervélo team decided to play the Johan Vansummeren card.

The Belgian duly won, Cancellara broke clear to secure second place, and Hushovd was eighth. It sharpened his determination to try to take victory in 2012.

His buildup has however been more complicated than he would have liked. He suffered stomach problems in Paris-Nice and was then forced to miss Milan-Sanremo due to a fever. To date, fifth on a stage of Paris-Nice is his best result.

Since then, he’s pulled out of the E3 Prijs Harelbeke, placed 48th in Gent-Wevelgem and 55th in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. “I was expecting to do better,” he said of last week’s race. “I didn’t have any strength in my legs. I felt empty.”

However, with Roubaix fast approaching, he feels things are on the up. “It’s a race in which anything can happen,” he insists. “I feel that I’m getting back on form. My training has been good and I still believe that I have a chance of winning in Roubaix. I know that experience is a massive factor in the race.”

What’s clear is that this year, the race will be different as a result of one of his big rivals breaking his collarbone in the Flanders Classic. It remains to be seen how exactly things will turn out as a result. “I don’t know how much the absence of Cancellara will change the race this year,” he said. “Tom Boonen is in great form, so he is the favourite with a team that should be able to handle the toughness of the race.

“It’s a shame for Cancellara, he was in the right condition to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix again, but that’s cycling for you – it can happen to us all.”

In theory Cancellara’s absence should help Hushovd’s chances, even if he will still have to deal with the in-form Boonen, who won on Sunday. The Swiss rider is one of a very small number with the strength to break clear and to hold off a hard chase behind; without Cancellara, it can be argued that a small group sprint is more likely, something which would suit Hushovd.

Although Gilbert Duclos Lassalle won the race at 38, Hushovd knows that he’s running out of chances. He’s now 34 years of age and has to pull out a big performance. He’s clear on what the Hell of the North means to him.

“Paris-Roubaix is my obsession,” he said. “It’s the race of my dreams, the one I want to win before I call a halt to my career.”

 

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