Hushovd on Tour of Flanders: ‘I know that I can be there for the win if everything works out’
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hushovd on Tour of Flanders: ‘I know that I can be there for the win if everything works out’

by Shane Stokes at 6:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
Former world champion and his BMC Racing team-mate Greg Van Avermaet give their thoughts

Thor HushovdBMC Racing Team rider Thor Hushovd has said that while Paris-Roubaix is clearly a better race for his attributes, that he believes that he has the form to be a contender in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and that a big performance is very important to him.

“It is no doubt that Paris-Roubaix suits me better but I know also that I can be there for the win if everything works out,” he said at the pre-race press conference. “In 2009 I was there, sprinting for third, and I crashed 50 metres before the finish line. When things work well and I do a good race, I know I can be there and I can win a sprint in a group.”

Hushovd admits that the race is a difficult one for him due to its parcours, but also doesn’t rule out his chances. “For me it is a hard race with all the climbs and with the cobblestones,” he accepted. “But I just hope I have a good day, then I know everything can happen.”

The Norwegian is known as a rider who can excel on a tougher course, as is shown by some of his victories in the past. He’s won Tour de France stages on difficult terrain and also triumphed in the 2010 world road race championships. Winning a northern Classic has long been a target, even if he would prefer to take next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix.

“Flanders has always been one of my goals in all the years. I never had a chance to finish on the podium yet,” he said. “I have been really close, but I haven’t been up there. That is still a big goal for me, it is one of the races which suits me and which I like. I just hope that I get everything out, that the body works well and that we can do a nice race together as a team.”

Current world champion Philippe Gilbert and big young American talent Taylor Phinney were originally due to take part in the event, but both cancelled their participation this week. Gilbert is trying to shake off some illness, while Phinney has a sore knee and wants to rest it prior to Paris-Roubaix.

“We are losing two of our key players for this race,” accepts John Lelangue, the team’s top directeur sportif. He’s clear that it was necessary. “It was a wise decision to make; I was with Philippe Tuesday in Monaco, he was not feeling really good. He has been having a little cold since Paris-Nice. His main objectives since the beginning of the year, since the team presentation, come in the Ardennes Classic race with Amstel, Flèche and Liège.

“Having here not at 100 percent was not the best solution. I think that the wise solution was to send him to Pais Vasco to have six more days of racing and then to send him for those three races.”

He’s also clear that the younger rider is better served by missing the race. “The same for Taylor Phinney, suffering a sore knee since Gent-Wevelgem. His main objective since the winter is Paris-Roubaix, it will be coming next week,” he said. “He is better for this, it was better to let him recover, to let him heal his knee and to try to have him at 100 percent for next weekend.

“We are still confident that we have two great leaders, and of course we will do the race for them.”

Greg Van AvermaetThe second leader that Lelangue refers to is Greg Van Avermaet, the Belgian rider who last weekend was third in Gent-Wevelgem. He’s a past winner of Paris-Tours and is someone who could – if tactics play out right – potentially win the Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

“I hope [I am ready for Flanders]. I did some good training at home. That was fine, I was not sick,” he said. “That is important after these races. I did some good training rides and I relaxed a little bit with my family. That is a really important moment. I think I have a good preparation to go to Flanders, which is always one of the goals in the beginning of the season. When you are training in the winter, you are always thinking of these races. So I am happy to be here in good form, we will see how things go on Sunday.”

Asked how he felt the race would play out, Van Avermaet said that it was difficult to say. The race is using the new parcours for only the second time ever and that means there is an element of unpredictability. He hopes that the pressure goes on early, and that the race is difficult.

The big favourites for the race are Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) and last Sunday’s Gent Wevelgem victor Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Team). Van Avermaet believes that their clear status as the ones to watch means that the racing could play out a certain way as a result. “When you have two favourites, then the others are going to try to make the race maybe a little bit harder or go earlier,” he said. “It all depends on what the riders want to do and how they are going to race.”

Click on the button below to hear the full press conference, including quotes from both riders plus John Lelangue and BMC Racing Team president Jim Ochowitz.


BMC Racing Team Tour of Flanders 2013 press conference by Velonationprocycling on Mixcloud




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