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Martin Elmiger looks to a top ten placing in Paris-Roubaix this year
The French ProTour team is highly motivated to do well in the country's biggest one-day Classic....
The French ProTour team is highly motivated to do well in the country's biggest one-day Classic. "We're looking for a placing within the top ten for Martin Elmiger, which is perfectly realistic as he has been very regular in the Classics," team manager Vincent Lavenu said about the team's objectives. "We'll aim at having one or several riders in the breakaway as was the case last season with Stéphane Poulhiès, who did it even though he had no experience." At the Roubaix velodrome, Elmiger came in 18th in 2006, and 24th in 2007.
Poulhiès, 22 years of age, finished the race as best Frenchman last year in 22nd position. Lavenu hoped that his youngster can show off his possibilities on the pavé once again in 2008. "He's a little bit behind this year in terms of preparation, but he could take up the opportunity in Paris-Roubaix to jump back into the limelight," added Lavenu, who is also hoping for his new Belgian recruit Stijn Vandenbergh to confirm his talents.
"As every good Belgian rider, he like the pavé," said the team manager. "I discovered him last year in the Belgian semi-classics. He was capable of racing from the front, well-placed, so I'm waiting for him to show his abilities.
"Because of its historic aspect and media impact, Paris-Roubaix is a very important race for our team, and we have to honour the high level of this event."
The full AG2R La Mondiale team line-up is: Martin Elmiger, Renaud Dion, Yuriy Krivtsov, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Stéphane Poulhies and Stijn Vandenbergh.
The Italian Professional Continental team Tinkoff received a wildcard invitation from race organiser ASO and is therefore highly motivated to show the quality of its riders, even if sports director Orlando Maini knows that his men will probably not be in contention for a victory.
"Our riders' condition is very good," said Maini. "But we don't have any men of reference in this important event. The invitation of the organisers would definitely justify a victory! So we will not be beaten before competing and are looking forward to stir up the race to show the high quality of our riders."
The full Tinkoff line-up in Paris-Roubaix includes: Pavel Brutt, Ilya Chernetsky, Nikita Eskov, Alexander Gottfried, Mihkail Ignatyev, Alberto Loddo, Bernardo Riccio and Alexander Serov.
The Belgian team, also kindly invited by the organiser, will bring an experienced squad of Flandrian hardliners to the 'Hell of the North', most notably 36 year-old Tom Steels and 37 year-old Filip Meirhaeghe. Steels finished third in Paris-Roubaix 1999.
The line-up of Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner is: Filip Meirhaeghe, Kevin Neirynck, Tom Steels, Jan Kuyckx, David Boucher, Ian Stannard and Dirk Bellemakers, with one slot still empty on Friday.