Fabian Cancellara is the favourite for Paris-Roubaix but he insists the pressure is on his rivals' shoulders and believes that could help him take a rare Flanders and Roubaix double.
Cancellara achieved the first major goal of his season last Sunday by dropping Tom Boonen on the legendary Kapelmuur and winning the Tour of Flanders alone.
Boonen has pointed out there is no Kapelmuur climb on Sunday's route, hinting that he won't be dropped, but in a growing war of words, Cancellara reminded everyone that he had already dropped Boonen on the flat when he won the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke.
"After the victory I think a few things have changed in Belgium," Cancellara said with a hint of malice at a final pre-Roubaix press conference in Belgium on Friday afternoon.
"I've won a lot of races but so many people asking me for autographs in the street here was a new thing for me. My goal was Flanders, I got it, but Roubaix is one of the five Monuments, so I want to win it again. Me and the team have to honour the race by giving our all.
"The pressure is on him (Boonen) now, and for sure his team, but it's also on the rest of the peloton too. Not on us. If you look how we've been riding since Waregem, with Matti so strong, with the whole team strong, we showed what we can do. Now maybe we can risk a bit more than other teams because our pockets are quite full. But we're still hungry and looking forward to Sunday."
Motivation for a rare double
Cancellara is already looking forward to a break from racing and is perhaps mentally tired after a successful but intense spring. But becoming one of the few riders to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix has given him the extra motivation to keep going.
"My biggest motivation is to make the double and make history," he said. "There are three or four Belgians who have done it and then this one non-Belgian, a Swiss guy, in 1923, quite a long time ago. For me, the most important thing is to go with my team and do the best we can. Do the race we want to race, so that we can be even happier than we were before the race."
Cancellara is happy to share his moment of success with his Saxo Bank teammates. He knows that their support was vital last Sunday in Flanders and will be just as important this Sunday in Pars-Roubaix.
"With our team you have a hard life..." he said of all the hard work their riders face in each race.
"But with Matti going good and Stuey [O'Grady] so good and experienced, the team is ready and so I feel safe. The important thing is to stay calm because that can give you the power at the end of the race. You can be strong but you need the team. I won Flanders and Matti has won but you can never forget what other people in the team do in the first 100km. They cover breaks and bring us to the front. They do hard work because they sacrifice themselves in the first 150km of the race. But that's the way to do it if a team wants to win. I'm so proud that we're all ready to fight to win together on Sunday. I think that gives us a mentally advantage."
Cancellara is just hoping that he can and his teammates can wake up on Sunday morning and be as strong as he was in the Tour of Flanders.
"I don't know if I can but I hope, I pray for that. A few days ago I felt bad but now I feel different to last week before the Ronde. When you have nothing to lose you can try everything. That gives me and the team more strength to show what we can do."