HTC-Highroad leaders confident and excited at Paris-Roubaix start
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

HTC-Highroad leaders confident and excited at Paris-Roubaix start

by VeloNation Press at 9:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
Mark Cavendish “like a kid” ahead of first Enfer du Nord

Mark CavendishHTC-Highroad has put its strongest classics team out on the roads of today’s Paris-Roubaix. On paper the team’s leaders would be Milano-Sanremo winner Matt Goss and super-sprinting Manx Missile Mark Cavendish; as veteran road captain Bernhard Eisel explained at the race start in front of the Napoleonic chateau in Compienge though, things are rarely that simple for the American team.

“Ah, there’s no real captain,” the Austrian told VeloNation at the start. “We’ve got Matt Goss, whose the leader of the WorldTour, and was really good in this race last year really. I’m in good form, Cav is our joker; it’s his first Roubaix, he’s excited like a kid!

“We’ll see, we’re not like the big hitters; we’ll just follow and see. We have to race smart and then everything’s possible.”

As a veteran of several editions of the race Eisel knows exactly which conditions he prefers, and the sunny, warm weather at the start certainly put a smile on the Austrian’s face.

“I love it!” he laughed. “I don’t understand people who say ‘it’s muddy, it’s rainy, it’s cold, I love it,’ there’s something wrong with them!”

As usual, one of Eisel’s roles will be to take care of Cavendish, but he is confident that the young sprinter will be able to survive his first experience of the Enfer du Nord.

“I told him he has to keep going, and going, and going,” said Eisel. “He has to see the vélodrome; it doesn’t matter which place, he has to get there.”

After his win in last month’s Milano-Sanremo, Goss will undoubtedly be one of the riders to watch in today’s race. He doesn’t think that the peloton will be watching him ahead of the race’s big favourites though.

“Oh, I don’t know about that!” he laughed to VeloNation. “We’ll see, but there’s a lot of guys in this race, a lot of guys that are bigger than me, like Fabian [Cancellara].

“The team that we’ve got is a really good team,” he added, “it’s looking pretty good.”

After Sanremo, Goss was struck down with a cold, which caused him to abandon last week’s Ronde van Vlaanderen. He feels that he has fully recovered though, and is ready for the race.

“Yeah, it’s gone I think,” he said. “Everyone’s going to have a blocked head in about an hour anyway, so we’re ready to rock and roll I think.”

Cavendish, as Eisel said, looked both nervous and excited at the start; perhaps befitting one of his age, but not one of his experience and success.

“Yeah, thank you,” was his smiling response to VeloNation’s question about whether he was feeling good ahead of the race.

As the “fastest man on two wheels” did he expect everybody to be watching him during the race though? “I don’t think so, no,” he laughed.

When asked if he was looking forward to it though, he smiled and replied: “I am, yeah.”

In the unlikely event of a mass bunch sprint, the Manx Missile would surely be the favourite on the smooth concrete of the Roubaix track. Just making it there would be an achievement for Cavendish in his first attempt though, but Goss or Eisel might well have more to say about the result.


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