OmegaPharma-Lotto behind Jürgen Roelandts in Paris-Roubaix
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

OmegaPharma-Lotto behind Jürgen Roelandts in Paris-Roubaix

by Ben Atkins at 6:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Spring Classics, Track, Paris-Roubaix
Belgian will give 200% in Sunday’s Hell of the North

jurgen roelandtsOmegaPharma-Lotto will put its energies behind Jürgen Roelandts in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, according to Sporza. The Belgian team, which last won the race in 2003 with Peter Van Petegem, has undergone some personnel changes over the winter, but team manager Marc Sergeant is confident in the 25-year-old’s abilities.

"Jürgen knows the course very well,” said Sergeant to Sporza. “We don’t have [Leif] Hoste or [Greg] Van Avermaet anymore, but I think we have a solid team to support Jürgen, with riders who were all built for this competition.

"Men like [Marcel] Sieberg [Adam] Hansen [André] Greipel and [Vicente] Reynes know the ropes on the cobblestones,” he explained, “and Jens Debusschere was second in the 2010 under-23 race and so he does too."

Like last Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, there is one name on everyone’s lips as the man to beat in Paris-Roubaix.

"Cancellara is sky high favourite,” said Sergeant, “but behind him there are quite a few, including Roelandts."

So far Roelandts has had a solid 2011 season; he finished ninth in February’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but his second place in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen at the end of last month – leading home the first group behind Cancellara – shows that his form is coming good at the right time.

"I feel good, even slightly better than in 2010,” Roelandts told Sporza. “Roubaix suits me well, maybe more than the Ronde van Vlaanderen."

With 51.5km of the worst cobbled roads in Europe to cross in the 258km course, riders often resort to specialist equipment, both for reliability and as much comfort as possible.

"I explored the course on Thursday with an aluminium frame,” said Roelandts. "The wheelbase is longer and runs better on the cobbles than carbon. I feel good.

"It is my third Roubaix, I want to make the race and be there in the final."

If he is to get a good result on Sunday though, Roelandts will have to have better luck than he did in the 2010 race. "Hopefully I’ll have no bad luck,” he said. “Last year I got two punctures in the Forest of Wallers [Arenberg – Ed], so I lost two minutes before I’d even begun."

While he is just 25 years old, and is riding just his third Paris-Roubaix, the former Belgian champion feels he has the necessary attributes to lead the team.

"In Roubaix, the slightly heavier men come to the fore,” he said. “Well, I weigh a little more. Being captain, I don’t feel extra pressure; these are opportunities you must seize. It's nice to have been given the confidence, I’ll be there 200 percent."

"Where do I fit in? I cannot say. There are many favourites: [Tom] Boonen, [Fabian] Cancellara, [Björn] Leukemans, [Thor] Hushovd, [Juan Antonio] Flecha, [Sylvain] Chavanel, [Heinrich] Haussler and so on."

After a warmer than usual Ronde van Vlaanderen, more high temperatures are expected for Sunday’s race, meaning that the race will be a dustbowl instead of a mudfest. Roelandts is more than aware of the importance of staying hydrated throughout the race.

"They predict good weather and so it is important to drink properly. If you're half an hour without getting water bottles, you have a problem."

OmegaPharma-Lotto team for Paris-Roubaix:
David Boucher, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Maarten Neyens, Vicente Reynes, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg


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