Yoann Offredo is one of a cadre of French riders taking aim at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday but the FDJ rider acknowledged that denying Fabian Cancellara a third victory in the Hell of the North will require a significant degree of invention.
Speaking to Cyclingnews in Antwerp on Wednesday, Offredo accepted that simply trying to follow Cancellara on the pavé would be tantamount to riding for second place. “The teams who want to beat him will need to take their responsibilities, you can’t just wait for him,” Offredo said. “You have to anticipate: teams will need to use all of their riders and make it an attacking race and force Cancellara to do something different.”
Offredo had already tried a similar tactic at Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, where he went up the road in a group with Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) ahead of the final loop over the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. “I didn’t want to wait around: Cancellara and Peter Sagan were very strong and the only solution was to attack from distance and anticipate them. We knew that it would have been impossible to follow Fabian à la pedale, he was too strong,” he said.
The intention was to try and hitch a ride on the Cancellara-Sagan express when it inevitably blasted past on the Kwaremont, and Offredo said that he had attempted to pace himself on the climb accordingly. “I didn’t try to follow Roelandts when he started forcing because I wanted to go steady up the first part of the Kwaremont. I was hoping that when Cancellara and Sagan came across, I would be able to follow them,” Offredo said.
“The problem was that I went a bit too steady – they caught me on the hardest part of the Kwaremont and they were going so fast that it was impossible to follow them. Even with excellent legs, I wouldn’t have been able to follow them.
“If I’d stayed with Roelandts and made it to the flat part before they caught me, I think it might have been different and I could have been in the top 5. But you needed them to catch you on the flatter part of the Kwaremont to have any hope of staying with them.”
Offredo finished De Ronde in 16th place in the main chase group, and it was another classic where his legs did not quite match his ambitions. After missing the 2012 campaign due to suspension for clocking three whereabouts violations, the 26-year-old admitted that he was still a little short of full racing sharpness.
“I’m missing a bit of explosiveness and sometimes I’ve been badly placed, but little by little that’s coming back too,” Offredo said. “I’m finding my level bit by bit, I’m responding to the pressure and I’m feeling better and better in the races. In the World Cup races [Milan-San Remo and Flanders], I’ve been in the top 20, so I hope that on Sunday in Roubaix I can make the top ten.”