Team News – Cancellera – first time I did Roubaix I hated this race


Fabian Cancellera (3 time winner) – “To win in Roubaix, you have to be on a good day and have a lot of luck”

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Team News – Cancellera –  first time I did Roubaix I hated this race


It was a busy day on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix as teams took a look at the various sectors. Paris-Roubaix organisers, ASO, had re-rated the 51.1 kilometres of cobblestone sectors for the 112th edition according to length, unevenness of the cobbles, overall condition, and their location in the race.

The ratings range from 1-5 stars (click here ), and the conditions of the pavé can change from year to year, even week to week, depending on harsh winters, and current weather conditions.

So every year a recce of the cobblestone sectors takes place prior to the running of the “Hell of the North”, both by the race organisers and teams. This year the three most difficult and decisive sectors, each rated five stars, remain the same as years past: Trouée d’Arenberg (161.5km), then the longest sector of three kilometres, Mons-en-Pevele (208km), and the final treacherous romp, Le Carrefour de L’Arbre (240km), just 27 kilometers from the finish.

The sheer length of the race (257km), the 28 sectors of precarious cobblestones, the narrow, winding roads, and often the weather, all play into Paris-Roubaix being, if not the hardest, certainly the most unique race on the calendar.

Last year it was dry and dusty, and the forecast for this Sunday is looking to be much the same. “Right now it’s looking like it’s going to be dry, little chance of rain tomorrow, but a dry race for Sunday, and this means there will be a lot of dust on the cobbles,” said Treck Factory Team’s director Dirk Demol just after the team had finished its reconnaissance of the course.

“This is good, with Flanders we did not mind if it rained, but here it’s different, and we are glad it will stay dry. The cobbles, though, are really sharp and there will be more chance of punctures.

Trek had a blow to their chances with the withdrawal of hardman Stijn Devolder but they still have the ace up their sleeve that is Fabian Cancellera. He will be backed up by Gregory Rast, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent, Yaroslav Popovych, Markel Irizar, Danny van Poppel and Jasper Stuyven.

There is little doubt that Fabian Cancellara will go into Paris-Roubaix as one of the favorites, especially after he showed incredible sprinting prowess in Milan-Sanremo by finishing second, and again by winning Ronde van Vlaanderen last week in a four-up sprint finish.

Where once there was a bigger chance of victory by containing a “Spartacus” solo effort and taking him to the line in a sprint, now even that seems to be a dangerous move; tactically the teams will look to rid themselves of the one man, who, without question, is amongst a handful or riders tipped to win on the cobbled roads of Northern France.

Talking in the press conference, Cancellera said “Last Sunday (Flanders victory) was tougher than in other years in my opinion, but what was important was in the end, I won.”

Fabian, a three time winner of Roubaix, explained how he’s avoided the pancakes and stuck to the protein shakes instead as he relaxes for the race on Sunday. When asked what it takes to win at Roubaix, he says “To win in Roubaix, you have to be on a good day and have a lot of luck. The race also has to go in the way that suits me.”

“You have to push the pedals a lot, and suffer a lot but I am looking forward to a sunny race in France!”

Talking about rivals, he says “on Sunday, there are only three men who have won this race riding, Tom Boonen, Johan Vansummeren and me and the rest of the peloton hasn’t won and that puts a lot of teams and riders under more pressure.”

“Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) has super condition and the team is riding well and those teams will put us under pressure.” He then reeled off other names like Milan –San Remo winner Kristoff as well as Terpstra and Sagan adding that these riders are still very hungry for a Classics win.
“There are lots of other favourites and good riders and this year we have a lot of riders at a higher level and so things may be different this year”.

Asked does he love the race, he said no, love is not the right word! “The first time I did Roubaix, I hated this race, especially when you go through Arenbergand you are alone, and you get into the car at the feedzone to take you back to the finish”.

“Then I came back and some how I came to the velodrome with some riders at the front and lost again. The last two years have showed me that I don’t love the race but there is something special about the race and in the end I have done well.”

Fabian then explained that whilst he has done well in the race, he doesn’t have a great love for cobbles. “In my home city, there are cobbles but I avoid every single one of them! It is just these days when I am staying down here that I am on the cobbles.”

“This race is a war with the cobbles and I want to win the war against the cobbles because it hurts a lot especially when we go slow and that is why we must ride as fast as possible to get off them as fast as possible!”

Asked if he prepares differently for the classics he says yes in that for the Worlds, he will ride a three week stage race but for the Spring classics there is not the chance for that.”

Whilst he knows there are lots of riders capable of winning the race, it is Tom Boonen that he feels will be the biggest rival. “We respect each other and this weekend it will be a big fight. He has showed he is ready, more ready than people probably think. Tom will be up there, a hundred percent.”

Towards the end of the 22 minute chat with the press, Cancellera explained how watching the likes of Tafi, Museeuw and Franco Ballerini inspired him to become the rider he has. “Ballerini was the rider with the most style, the most class riding over the cobbles” Cancellera explained.

Sunday we shall see the class of Spartacus and how he fairs against the most dominant rider in the race in the last decade, Tom Boonen and many other possible winners.


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