Last year's third-placed rider Roger Hammond will start this year's Paris-Roubaix despite a broken thumb sustained in Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem, his Discovery Channel team has confirmed.
Hammond hit a metal traffic pole in one of the many crashes that marred this year's Gent-Wevelgem, spraining his ankle and bruising his knee as well as breaking his thumb. A broken thumb might sound like a show-stopper faced with the bike-control issues the mud and cobbles of Paris-Roubaix throw up, but it was actually the knee and ankle injuries that came closest to keeping the British champion from lining up on Sunday.
On Thursday the pain in his ankle was debilitating, Hammond said on the Discovery Channel's website thepaceline.com.
Hammond said he woke up on Thursday and the pain in his ankle was much worse. "Thursday I could hardly walk and thought 'this was it, there's no way,'" he said. "I really didn't want to go out training on the bike. It seems if I did then I would really know it wouldn't be possible to race on Sunday. But my parents were here and they encouraged me to go out and when I did, [the ankle and knee] got better and better. The finger can be dealt with differently, as you can isolate it in a plastic cast. With the ankle and knee, Dr. Dag [van Elslande, the team's physician] didn't want to me injure it any further."
Hammond will be taking it easy until Sunday, not practising on the course to avoid hammering his injured thumb. "The most important thing for me is not to tighten up," he said. "With my hand, I'm just going to have to be lucky in the race, with all the shaking that will happen from the roads."
Meanwhile Discovery directeur sportif Dirk Demol - himself a Paris-Roubaix winner, in 1988 - has been checking out the new course with members of the team that will race on Sunday. "It was good to see the changes they have made to the course," he said. "The changes have made the race harder compared to last year. We all thought the hardest part was out when they took away the Arenberg forest but of the 5-6 new (cobble) sections, two are very hard - both are up and down, not dead flat at all. It was good to see that."
Discovery Channel for Paris-Roubaix: Michael Barry, Tony Cruz, Stijn Devolder, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Roger Hammond, Ryder Hesjedal, George Hincapie, Leif Hoste