By Jean-François Quénet in Compiègne
Enrico Franzoi is one of the most popular foreign riders when the time comes for racing in the North. "Riding cyclo-cross here in north of France and Belgium makes me well known at a media level, it's a good thing", he reckons. It's amazing how he's well appreciated in Flanders particularly. Race commentators are used to yelling: "Enricoooooooo Franzoi!", in a Brazilian style for celebrating the goals in soccer.
Franzoi, 23, was the U23 world champion for cyclo-cross but he's a good rider on the road as well. He got noticed in his first attempt in Paris-Roubaix last year. "I finished 30th but I crashed twice in the finale," he remembers. "This year, both Alessandro [Ballan] and myself are protected riders at Lampre-Fondital. Personally, I target a top 15. I've improved significantly. I've prepared for Paris-Roubaix riding Paris-Nice, then the Three Days of De Panne where I was 9th. Last week at the Tour of Flanders, I had good legs, I assisted Alessandro as much as I could. Tomorrow, I'll be able to race for myself."
He knows that a wet road could help him. "Doing cyclo-cross and riding on the cobblestones isn't exactly the same thing," he explains. "But the technique from the cyclo-cross helps reduce the vibrations on the stones." The Venetian obviously loves this type of cycling. His place is in the front of a race like Paris-Roubaix.