De Vlaeminck rates Cancellara and Boonen above rest for Paris-Roubaix
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Friday, April 09, 2010

De Vlaeminck rates Cancellara and Boonen above rest for Paris-Roubaix

by Bjorn Haake at 2:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Roubaix
 

Roger de Vlaeminck is the record holder in Paris-Roubaix, with four wins to his credit. As tough as the Belgian was on the cobbles in the "Hell of the North", is as outspoken as he is about the chances of rivals Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen.

"I see only those two with a chance. The rest is not even second category, but third category," De Vlaeminck told Sporza. "Cancellara and Boonen will ride away when they want." De Vlaeminck sees a difference even between those two. "In the Ronde [van Vlaanderen] Boonen came up quite short. I don't know how he can make that up in a week."

De Vlaeminck wants it to be a close race, though. "I hope that Boonen can close the gap, then we will get a nice final. But I'd prefer that Cancellara wins."

This of course has to do with the pride of being the only four-time winner, a feat that Boonen can equal on Sunday. Boonen has won the race in 2005, 2008 and 2009. If Boonen emerges victorious on Sunday, both riders will have gained their cobble stones - the traditional Trophée for the winner - in a six-year period. De Vlaeminck was first in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977.

De Vlaeminck is still sportsman enough that he would congratulate his compatriot as well. "I would like for Cancellara to win, but should Boonen be the best, then he can win. I do care about my record, but I won't get sick from it."

There are more important things in life than a bicycle race. "In a short period of time I lost two friends, that is much worse," De Vlaeminck explained. "If they could come back, then Boonen can win Paris-Roubaix 25 times."

De Vlaeminck rated the competitors rather low. He doesn't think that Filippo Pozzato will have recovered enough from his diarrhea problems for such a long race and was quite blunt about the chances of Leif Hoste and Johan Vansummeren: "That won't happen."

Others, who are given the favorite status, are also low on De Vlaeminck's list. Over Juan Antonio Flecha, he could only shake his head. "In the Tour of Flanders he let his team ride on the front. He doesn't know himself. Something like that didn't happen with us, I don't understand it."

He was even more outspoken about Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Matti Breschel. "Who is that? What has he proven so far? Dwars is nothing compared to Paris-Roubaix. Maybe he had some bad luck, but I don't feel sorry for him. And Cancellara shouldn't, either."

He did have a personal favorite, though, Stijn Devolder. "A great guest, who I'd be happy to see win. He can stay with the group a long time, but in the end he may not be strong enough."

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