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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 6, 2013

Date published:
April 06, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Boasson Hagen aiming for coveted Paris-Roubaix cobble

    Edvald Boasson Hagen shows off the new Team Sky kit
    Article published:
    April 06, 2013, 5:15 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Sky's Norwegian Classics talent looking to salvage Classics campaign

    Edvald Boasson Hagen was a shining light on a dour day for Team Sky at The Tour of Flanders last week, finishing in 17th place with the British outfit ravaged by illness and bad luck.

    With the Norwegian cagey over whether the training-focussed regime in the lead up to the Classics has been ideal for his own chances, there is much hinging on his performance on Sunday at Paris-Roubaix.

    "For me it's not been a really good start to the season for results, but I've been getting better and better every race," Boasson Hagen told a cosy media conference in Kortrijk on Friday evening. "Now the Classics are nearly over, there's just one race to go, but we could do a good race there and it still could be a good Classics."

    Boasson Hagen's program has certainly not been race-heavy: he put the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Qatar under his belt before Sky began its Classics campaign at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but he says that he is growing in confidence.

    "I have no problems with training," he explained. "I can get fit by training and we've got a really good group. We've been training well together. I enjoy doing that as well.

    "When you're racing you can be more sure about how your form is... it's not just a number."

    Having fallen out of the lead group on the Cipressa at Milan-San Remo and then failing to finish on a challenging day, his form in Belgium has been solid: the 25-year-old finished 9th at E3 Harelbeke and then 20th at Gent-Wevelgem prior to Flanders. There, Boasson Hagen stuck with the powerful chase group containing eventual winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) but just couldn't quite match their explosiveness when...

  • Zanini's experience key to Astana's Paris-Roubaix hopes

    Zanini in his favourite win the 1996 Amstel Gold Race
    Article published:
    April 06, 2013, 10:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Former one day rider to guide team around Bozic

    Stefano Zanini is tasked with guiding a relatively inexperienced Astana team through Paris-Roubaix this Sunday. However with Borut Bozic in form the team has a chance of securing a top ten result.

    In his riding days Zanini was one of the most underrated one day riders of his generation and raced in the shadow of an Italian generation that included Michele Bartoli and Franco Ballerini. However he managed to compile a palmares that included an Amstel Gold (1996), Milano–Torino (1995), Paris–Brussels (1998) and several top ten placings in Milan-San Remo. In 1996 he was the Mapei rider to miss out on the famous one, two three at Paris-Roubaix, crossing the line in fourth. As well as a one-day rider he was also a leadout man and sprinter, wining the final stage of the 2000 Tour de France in Paris.

    On Sunday the 44-year-old will try and use his one-day experience to help Bozic and Jacopo Guarnieri. Bozic has started the spring in the better form, taking second places in both Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem, although both races are different propositions to the pave served up at Roubaix.

    "Our team captains are Borut Bozic and Jacopo Guarnieri, both strong veterans of this race. Borut is especially strong right now, and we will work to support him over the pave. The difficulties will come in the first few sectors when the peloton is racing 60km per hour to get onto the cobbles, and everyone is fighting for position. Once the selections are made and the leaders have established their groups, the real teamwork begins," said Zanini.

    "The weather for the weekend is continued cold, with a slight improvement from the wintry conditions over the last three weeks of racing. We may see the sun, but the temperature will probably stay around 10C," said Astana Pro Team Director Sportif Stefano Zanini.


  • No pressure for Sky ahead of Paris-Roubaix, says Stannard

    Ian Stannard leads Sky's assault
    Article published:
    April 06, 2013, 11:41 BST
    Barry Ryan

    British team search for result to save classics campaign

    Team Sky’s pre-classics training camp on Mount Teide has not borne the fruit many had anticipated but Ian Stannard denied that the squad felt under any additional pressure ahead of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

    Stannard’s own attacking display at frozen Milan-San Remo aside, the men in black have fallen short of their lofty expectations so far this spring. The 254 kilometres over the pavé to Roubaix mark their last chance to put a different spin on their classics campaign.

    “I don’t think we need a result,” Stannard said. “I think we’ve ridden really well, the training’s gone really well and there are lots and lots of positives that we can take from it. Obviously it would be nice to finish it off with a podium in Roubaix but it’s not all about this year. It’s about learning for next year as well. It’s not all about this weekend.”

    Even so, this weekend is what we have come to discuss, and the man who looms large over Sunday’s proceedings is one Fabian Cancellara. The obvious question – how on earth does Team Sky plan on denying him a third Paris-Roubaix title?

    “We’ve got to have numbers in front, haven’t we? Cancellara’s got to come up to us: we’ve got to be in front of him before he goes,” Stannard said, ruefully admitting that it would be easier said than done. “He was the favourite last Sunday and everyone knew what he was going to do but he rode everyone off his wheel.”

    With so many pitfalls on the road to Roubaix, tactical schemes are never set in stone. After four participations in the Hell of the North,...

  • Live coverage of Paris-Roubaix on Cyclingnews

    Tom Boonen takes the applause as he rides his first lap of the Roubaix velodrome
    Article published:
    April 06, 2013, 13:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Follow the complete race on CN this Sunday

    This Sunday you can tune into Cyclingnews for live text coverage from Paris-Roubaix, the third Monument of this year’s Spring Classics campaign.

    Cyclingnews will be covering the race from start to finish, kicking off coverage from 9:30am CET on Sunday morning and taking you all the way to the finish on the Roubaix velodrome.

    With the defending champion, Tom Boonen, out of the race through injury, Fabian Cancellara assumes the mantle as the number one favourite for the race. A two-time winner of Paris-Roubaix, the Swiss rider has been in devastating form in recent weeks with wins in E3 Harelbeke and the Tour of Flanders.

    Searching for his third Roubaix win, he will be tested by Sylvain Chavanel (Omega), Sébastien Turgot (Europcar), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto), Steve Chainel (AG2R), Lars Boom (Blanco), Taylor Phinney (BMC), Yoann Offredo (FD), and Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling).


  • Lefevere wants coalition with Sky in Paris-Roubaix

    Patrick Lefevere (Omega-Pharma QuickStep) manager
    Article published:
    April 06, 2013, 13:59 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Manager discusses Cavendish's sprint train problems

    Patrick Lefevere sat down with the media on Friday afternoon in Kortrijk to discuss his team’s chances ahead of the 111th edition of Paris-Roubaix.

    The flamboyant Belgian manager of Omega Pharma-Quickstep also looked back to Scheldeprijs, where it became obvious Mark Cavendish’s sprint train was choking.

    In Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs Cavendish lacked support in the final kilometres and after missing out on that much-wanted win the Manxman was a hugely disappointed man. It resulted in a reprimand from Lefevere after the race in the team bus. Lefevere told his riders that if they were afraid or worried that it was all about Cavendish they could join the Accent Jobs-Wanty team.

    “I’m not taking any words back although the interpretation from my side could have been explained better. It could’ve been Landbouwkrediet as well. If you want to be a team leader, then go there.”

    “Those teams ride without a leader. If you’re good, you’re protected by the team and that’s it. It wasn’t meant in a negative way,” Lefevere said.

    The arrival of Cavendish means that the team will need more riders to lead out their sprinter. Lefevere is aware that some riders who’re at the end of their contract fear for their spot but he’s convinced that his current riders are capable of leading out Cavendish too, even without his longtime sprint lieutenant Bernard Eisel.

    “I invested in Cavendish. It was a late signing and I couldn’t react on the transfer market while Eisel did not want to come along. I still think that we’ve got the boys in the team who can do it,” Lefevere said.

    The fact that the team was nowhere to be seen in the final kilometres worried the team manager. “It was by...

  • Phinney insists Hushovd is BMC leader

    Taylor Phinney (Team BMC)
    Article published:
    April 06, 2013, 17:00 BST
    Barry Ryan

    American nurturing podium ambitions at Paris-Roubaix

    An American bound by team orders at a major French race is a story we’ve heard somewhere before, but Taylor Phinney insists he is happy to obey the BMC team hierarchy at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

    On paper at least, Phinney lines up for his second Hell of the North as a supporting act rather than the leading player: Thor Hushovd tops the bill, in spite of the former world champion’s uninspired recent output.

    “The team hierarchy is defined. Thor is the man, but you never know what happens on the road,” Phinney told Cyclingnews in Compiègne on Saturday. “We’ll go out there with that in mind as it’s a very unpredictable race.”

    Even so, Phinney enters Paris-Roubaix nurturing distinct aspirations of his own. A double winner of the under-23 version of the race, his pedigree on the pavé is beyond reproach and he duly finished 15th in his first crack at the real thing last season. While at pains to highlight his fealty to Hushovd’s cause, Phinney has a clear idea of what he would like to achieve this time around.

    “If Thor doesn’t need me and if I have my own freedom, then I’d love to be top 10 and the podium is the dream,” said Phinney, who in spite of his youth sees no age restrictions on ambition. “You can’t really come to this race and just say that you’d love to be in the front group.

    “It’s like the Olympics for me last year [where he was 4th in both road race and time trial.] You go in with the goal of doing the best that you possibly can, which would be the podium. Although with team tactics we’ll see how that plays out.”

    A knee injury means that Phinney has not raced since Gent-Wevelgem two weeks ago...

  • Argos-Shimano bank on Degenkolb for Paris-Roubaix top ten

    John Degenkolb (Argos Shimano)
    Article published:
    April 06, 2013, 18:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Dutch team to work fo sprinter

    Dutch outfit Argos-Shimano has built their team around German sprinter John Degenkolb in a bid to secure their first top 10 placing in Paris-Roubaix.

    “We want to continue our upward trajectory of the last few races (De Panne, Tour of Flanders and Scheldeprijs). In those races, we really rode as a team. I think it is very realistic to aim for a top-10 place,” said sports manager Marc Reef in team press release.

    The Dutch WorldTour had struggled for results in the Spring Classics this year with Koen de Kort still recovering from injury and Marcel Kittel struggling to find his fitness after a virus contracted at the end of Paris-Nice. However, the team were buoyed by Kittel’s sprint win in Scheldeprijs last week, with the German beating Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma QuickStep) and retaining the title he won in 2012.

    With Kittel skipping the pave of Roubaix, the team’s attentions turn to Degenkolb.

    “John has shown that he is getting into top shape after taking ninth place in the Tour of Flanders, and this course suits him even better than the Tour of Flanders. He will need the full support of the team to position him well, as positioning is one of the decisive factors in this race. He needs to be sure that he is in the front of the race entering the final cobbled sections to get a good result. If it ends up in a sprint he is a dangerous outsider.”

    Degenkolb, who finished 63rd in last year’s Paris-Roubaix, said, "I will definitely be aiming for a top-10 place; the form is good enough for me to be there and reach the finale. We have done everything we could in preparation. We already started testing all the equipment in January, as you need special frames, tires and wheels. I am confident about not...

  • Cancellara not as strong as two years ago, says Pozzato

    Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) chasing on the Paterberg
    Article published:
    April 06, 2013, 19:15 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian hopes for turn in fortune at Paris-Roubaix

    The tattoo on his back says that only God will judge him, but Filippo Pozzato is aware that most of the cycling world has an opinion on him, too. "I'm used to criticism," he sighs as he leans against a barrier in the mixed zone at the Paris-Roubaix team presentation in Compiègne.

    After a mixed start to life at Lampre-Merida that saw early joy at the Trofeo Laigueglia give way to insipid showings at Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, Pozzato arrives in northern France desperately seeking a result.

    If Pozzato's own condition is a mystery, Fabian Cancellara's emphatic win at the Tour of Flanders has led many contenders to rate their prospects to be as glum as the slate grey skies over Compiègne on Saturday afternoon. Call it defiance or delusion, but Pozzato is determined to find a ray of light.

    "I think it's possible to beat Cancellara because I'm convinced that he's not as strong as he was two years ago," Pozzato said. "He's suffering more and even if you look at Flanders last Sunday, he attacked on the last climb, so it's not like he's attacking from 60km to go. Maybe the level is a bit lower now so he's still able to make the difference, but I don't think he's unbeatable."

    The buzzword all week has been anticipation. Directeurs sportifs have earnestly trotted out the same old line about sending riders up the road before Cancellara decides to open the throttle, but - perhaps typically - Pozzato begs to differ.

    "Everyone's talking about anticipating, but it's hard to imagine that Cance will let certain riders just go up the road," he said. "It's obvious that you'll just have to follow him when he hits the front, although I think he's going to wait for the finale, going on how he raced on Sunday. I don't know if I'm talking...