Paris-Roubaix: Boonen readies for Sunday's battle
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Paris-Roubaix: Boonen readies for Sunday's battle

by VeloNation Press at 12:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
 

Yesterday the Quick Step team completed their traditional reconnaissance of the Paris-Roubaix route. The riders who are taking part in the race rode 85 kilometres of the parcours starting with the 17th sector of cobbles, the Troueé d’Arenberg, and finishing at the 6th sector, the Cysoing à Bourghelles.

“I am satisfied with what we did today," team captain Tom Boonen commented.  "We carried out a great training session on part of the race route which has given us chance to test both ourselves and our equipment."

Both Boonen and teammate Stijn Devolder will be riding longer bikes for Paris-Roubaix tomorrow, so they needed to dial in their new machines on the cobbles.

"One of the most difficult sectors of the race will certainly be the one dedicated to Marc Madiot, the cobblestones in the 13th sector. The cobblestones are far apart from each other making it a really difficult surface to ride on. I’m sure they made this section by just throwing the cobblestones off the back of a lorry here there and everywhere hoping they’d land evenly," Boonen joked.  "We’ll have to keep our eyes open for this sector on Sunday as it is approached by a wide open sector of road where we’ll be pedaling at high speed.”

For a race like Paris-Roubaix the lead into some of the early cobbled sections is similar in speed to the leadout for a final sprint.  The teams continually battle to keep their leaders up front as they enter the unpredictable surface of the pavé.

“It looks like it will be a dry Roubaix," Boonen added.  "This means it will be a fast race. Technically it will be easier for us to set our riding paths and trajectories especially as we make our way out of the corners.”

The dry cobbles will make it more difficult to split up the race, but the Quick Step rider still expects a battle in northern France. “I am quite optimistic," explained Boonen.  "I'm certain it will be a spectacular race. The main opponents are the same as at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen even though the two races are completely different on a technical level.

"Thanks to myself and Devolder we are race favourites along with Cancellara and Breschel of the Saxo Bank team. Obviously the race is open to all contenders though!"

One of the main contenders, Filippo Pozzato, was forced to miss the Tour of Flanders last weekend due to illness.  He still sees the Italian as a threat:  "We’ll have to keep our eyes on Pozzato too. I’m not sure what condition he is in at the moment, but he is always one to watch out for on the cobbles as are riders such as Hincapie and Hoste."

Boonen will have extra motivation for this year's 'Hell of the North': "Sunday’s race will be special for me. I have the opportunity to  equal Roger De Vlaeminck’s extraordinary record of 4 victories!  But for me it’s not an added pressure. I have taken the same approach as last year.  Each year I do a lot of detailed training in preparation for this race  and this year I’ll be giving my all in order to win."

The Belgian has had a series of near misses in the two Classics so far this season, but remains optimistic about Sunday:  "This year I’m having one of my best seasons so far. There is a very fine line between winning and losing in this race. Freire was going very strong at Sanremo and Cancellara was going equally well at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen...now it would be great to win Roubaix!”

Boonen's teammate Stijn Devolder will also play a key role for Quick Step.  He will go into the race with added pressure since he failed to win his third successive Tour of Flanders last week.

“I am in good shape," Devolder confirmed.  "Today’s reconnaissance felt a lot better than last years. Hopefully I’ll have a little more luck than last year when I fell in the Arenberg forest which is always a key part of the race. We have some very good opponents – Cancellara is riding very well as is the rest of his team. We’ll have to watch out and be careful, but I’m sure our team will achieve a great result.”

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