Enrico Franzoi is proving to be a 'hard-man of the north' with his attacking style. The Italian from Mestre spent a total of around 442 kilometres, or 11 hours, off the front of the main pack in Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix combined. His goal was to help Lampre-Fondital team captain Alessandro Ballan but in the process he learned a little bit more about himself.
"I realized that I can return to win," he said on Tuesday to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "For [The Tour of] Flanders I need to drop from 73 to 70 kilograms."
He explained that his duties were clearly laid out. "I did not have to make the race I just had to make the escape. And afterwards I started to understand that I can return to try to win. Also, before I had the sensations that the races were suited for me but now I have the confirmation."
Franzoi finished the Paris-Roubaix in an amazing eighth place after being involved in the early escape, which went at kilometre 20. He almost collapsed from the heat and distance in Roubaix but then he hitched a ride on the Tom Boonen express train. The Belgian pushed forward like a madman in the closing kilometres to bridge to Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and try for podium place.
Cyclo-cross helped Franzoi with his agility but he explained that the pavé of northern France is completely different than the circuits in Belgium. "Maybe if the pavé was wet and muddy, then maybe it would have helped me," noted the 24 year-old. "'Cross has taught me how to position myself with the most balance and maybe on a muddy curve that would be useful. But with the weather we had, no [it did not help].
"To ride your bike over that pavé is like trying to control a wild washing machine. ... And I really suffered in the hot weather."
The elements are there for Franzoi to take victory; in fact, he noted that he needs to slim down for the Classics. "I don't miss anything. I have a little more than I need," he said referring to his weight. "They say that I can eliminate another three kilograms, to be at 70 kilograms, but I am already very attentive at the table. I have to regulate my self a little better, to become more professional.
"It is hard because if you train a lot it becomes difficult to drop weight; it will be a slow metabolism."
Franzoi will complete his northern journey with this Sunday's Amstel Gold Race. He will then focus on building for the Tour de France, where he will line up with team sprinter Daniele Bennati.
"After a rest, I will return in the Volta a Catalunya [21 - 27 May - ed.] and then do the Dauphiné Libéré [10 - 17 June] before the Tour."