Bbox Bouygues Telecom is preparing for the Queen of the Classics this Sunday, and will be at the start line in Compiègne more motivated than ever following a very successful first part of the season. The team, directed by Jean-René Bernaudeau, has already scored nine victories in 2010 and was at the forefront at many races, showing a great pool of talent that is now coming to maturity.
Other than its leaders Thomas Voeckler and Pierrick Fédrigo - not included in the line-up for Paris-Roubaix this Sunday - the outfit counts on William Bonnet, who won a stage in Paris-Nice, Sébastien Turgot, victorious at the Three Days of De Panne, and Steve Chainel, also a winner in the same race in Belgium last week.
Bonnet, Chainel and Turgot will be the main hopes of Jean-René Bernaudeau's Roubaix team, with Alexandre Pichot, Saïd Haddou, Yohann Gene, Damien Gaudin and Mathieu Claude rounding out the roster. Bonnet, who came to Bbox from Crédit Agricole in 2008 where he was a lead-out-man for Thor Hushovd, has always dreamed about Paris-Roubaix glory. Following his tenth placing in the recent Tour of Flanders, Bbox directeur sportif Dominique Arnould thinks Bonnet is now ready to perform well at the "Hell of the North".
"We are extremely motivated," Arnould told Cyclingnews on Thursday after the team reconnoitred the first part of the course, with the race finish test ride due on Friday. "I have a team of real warriors for this race, and everyone is in great shape. Our leader is William Bonnet, but Steve Chainel also showed his class in the Tour of Flanders. Nevertheless, he feels a little less comfortable on the cobbles, so we will se how it goes. But we are confident, as we rely not only on one leader but have a few cards to play."
These include Pichot and young talent Gaudin, winner of the U23 Paris-Roubaix in 2007. "We really have a handful of good riders and collectively, we will put our mark on the race this Sunday," continued Arnould, whose team has gained lots of confidence following its recent victories, and rightfully so.
"I think the team as a whole is on the same level now as - let's say Rabobank. We have shown this at the Tour of Flanders. Now, we hope that Boonen and Cancellara will mark each other, and that our riders can take advantage of that. There is much less pressure on the riders now that we've already had a spring campaign beyond our own expectations. They feel serene, and want to finish off this first part of the season in style."