Discovery Channel will be starting Paris-Roubaix without their key man for the cobbles, George Hincapie, who is out with a broken wrist. But the team has two lesser known prospects for Sunday's race: Russian muscleman Vladimir Gusev and the Lithuanian star Tomas Vaitkus.
Both have their own strengths, with Gusev being more of a climber while Vaitkus has a fast sprint in his legs, and both have a passion for the cobbles, which is necessary to excel in Paris-Roubaix. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé caught up with the two at the team's hotel in Compiègne to find out more.
Vladimir Gusev crossed the line in the 2006 edition of the 'Hell of the North' in fourth place, but you won't find his name on the results. Gusev was one of the riders - together with Leif Hoste and Peter Van Petegem - who were chasing the lead group when a train crossing's barriers closed down in front of them, signalling an oncoming freighter. The trio crossed the closed barriers and were subsequently disqualified, a harsh decision. The Russian 24 year-old doesn't like to look back on that race. "People saw everything, they saw what we encountered," Gusev said to Cyclingnews.
On Sunday Gusev will be one of the outsiders for the win, but he has been doing well throughout the current season, with a fifth place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen as highlight. "I am not the big favourite but for sure, I have good legs so I'll keep going," Gusev said. Gusev picks the same favourites as the bookmakers have chosen. "It would be a good experience to beat Boonen and Cancellara."
Click here to read the full interview with Gusev and Vaitkus.