By Gregor Brown
Leif Hoste will lead the Silence Lotto team in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, and expects to be in position to battle for the win in the venerable French Classic. He knows that he must ride the perfect race to secure the crown. The Belgian's top finish in the "Hell of the North" came last year when he finished sixth behind Quick Step's Tom Boonen, but he admits he will have to be better this time around.
"I made a wrong decision in the key part of the race last year – that was my fault. There won't be any room for errors this Sunday," Hoste told Cyclingnews.
The team and Hoste have been progressing toward their goal of topping the podium in a major Classic. After a quiet start to the year, Silence-Lotto got its first win with Cadel Evans last month before steering its Spring Classics campaign back on track by placing Philippe Gilbert on the podium in last Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Hoste showed his form is coming around by making a strong breakaway group which formed ahead of the feared Koppenberg climb in De Ronde last weekend. He rode alongside Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), but was not able to respond when those two riders attacked on the Valkenberg. He is certain that things will be different this Sunday.
"Remember, I was sick in Tirreno, so you can see that I am coming close to the right form. One week extra should be better."
Silence-Lotto's rival team, Quick Step, got the upper hand in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. It controlled the race with Boonen and Chavanel while teammate Devolder rode solo to victory. Hoste thinks they will not have such an easy time dominating the race this week.
"There is more than just Boonen and Quick Step for Roubaix. There is also Columbia with George Hincapie and Cervélo with Heinrich Haussler and maybe Roger Hammond. Manuel Quinziato [Liquigas] looked good on Sunday too."
Hoste's sixth last year was his best place in Roubaix, barring the 2006 edition . That year he finished second by race's end, but officials disqualified him due to illegal passage through a closed train crossing with Peter Van Petegem and Vladimir Gusev.
Silence Lotto for Paris-Roubaix: Mickael Delage, Glenn D'Hollander, Michiel Elijzen, Leif Hoste, Staf Scheirlinckx, Roy Sentjens, Greg Van Avermaet, Johan Vansummeren