Alexander Kristoff: wind tunnel testing
While Paris-Roubaix is currently still his major focus Alexander Kristoff is already looking further ahead. The goal is the maillot jaune at the Tour de France. After the opening time trial of 14 kilometres there are bonus seconds up for grabs at the following seven stages. With a good performance in the opening time trial Kristoff has a good chance to grab the yellow jersey with stage wins on the days that follow. “For now he hasn’t really ever worked on his time trial bike position. Now his coach Stein Orn is looking into doing some tests in the wind tunnel,” rider agent Joona Laukka told Cyclingnews on Saturday. Cyclingnews understands this will be with aerodynamics expert Simon Smart at the Drag2Zero wind tunnel at the Mercedes F1 facility. Smart has already advised the likes of Tony Martin, Taylor Phinney, Joaquim Rodriguez an Alex Dowsett on their riding positions.
After Paris-Roubaix, the strong Norwegian will ride the same schedule like last year, Laukka informed Cyclingnews. “First he’ll do Frankfurt (Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt), then the races in Norway with the Tour des Fjords, Tour de Suisse and then the Tour de France.”
Jürgen Roelandts with hands of a worker
Jürgen Roelandts’ hands didn’t show any blisters when he walked on the Place Charles de Gaulle in Compiègne on Saturday afternoon. “I never suffer from that. These are the hands of a working man,” Roelandts smiled. He enjoyed being already at the start one day before the race. “It’s always special to be here. The first cobbles are already bad. It’s an appetizer of what’s to come. The day before the race is a long day. In the room you’re just getting nervous,” Roelandts said. He wondered how the wind would affect the race. “The strongest men will be riding up front in the end anyway.”
Stijn Devolder wants good memories
Stijn Devolder never had much luck in Paris-Roubaix. In recent years he often worked hard for team leader Fabian Cancellara but in 2008 the now 35-year-old Belgian rider finished seventh. “I had a lot of crashes and suffering in this race. I hope that one day I’ll have good memories about this race, hopefully tomorrow,” Devolder said on Saturday afternoon in Compiègne. “These are the hardest races of the year, together with the Tour of Flanders. We’ll have to await what the weather will give but it will be a hard race for sure.” To win, Devolder and his Trek Factory Team has to shake off fast and strong men like Alexander Kristoff. “I thought we had a plan last week but he’s too strong for us at the moment. Once again he’s the main favourite for the win tomorrow. Behind him there’s a lot of good riders. Maybe one day we will beat him and hopefully it will be tomorrow.”
Sep Vanmarcke unsure about form
At the team presentation in Compiègne the LottoNL-Jumbo team was spearheaded by Sep Vanmarcke. The Belgian was still in doubts whether he would be able to perform up to standards in Paris-Roubaix after a lacklustre ride in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Vanmarcke didn’t know himself. He felt good but that didn’t provide information. “The day before the Tour of Flanders I felt great and also during the race. We’ll have to see how it goes during the race,” Vanmarcke said. When asked how he would deal with Alexander Kristoff he was unsure. “We’ll see how the race unfolds. The first 200 kilometres will decide a lot. If I have a good feeling, no mechanical issues, etc., Then I will see if there are more guys than Kristoff only. I can’t say how I would do it right now.”
Matti Breschel rides for daughter
Danish rider Matti Breschel is riding his seventh Paris-Roubaix. His best result was a ninth place in 2009. The 30-year-old rider knows how to ride the cobbles. “Forget about the special tapes and other stuff. You have to let it go and relax,” Breschel smiled. The Dane has been riding in support of team leader Peter Sagan at the previous Spring Classics but on Sunday he might have a free role. Last week the Dane went up and down to Lucca, Italy where his wife gave birth to his second child, a daughter named Billie. Breschel was highly motivated for Paris-Roubaix. “That’s why I skipped the Scheldeprijs. I’m riding for her. I really want to do well. For the moment I have a protected role but you never know. Of course we have to help each other in the final. For sure it will be different than in Flanders. He was one of the favourites for Flanders and all the other races. He’s still in good shape,” Breschel said. “I think the race is really open tomorrow. There’s a lot of guys who can win. With the wind and the weather tomorrow I think the breakaway can stay away longer. We will try to put one guy up there. Hopefully we can be with a little bit more than one or two guys in the final tomorrow.