Tour de France: The cobbles are going to be crazy, says Vansummeren

Garmin rider looking to keep Talansky safe and take victory

After the third sprint finish of the Tour de France, the riders will be looking towards the cobbles. The general classification is anyone's game at the moment, but that could all change by Wednesday evening.

Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) is one of the specialists who will be in with a chance of victory in Arenberg-Port Hainaut. Stage five will be a day of two races where the classics specialists do what they do best and fight for victory and the general classification riders try not to lose too much time.

Throw in the added complication of the rain that has been falling over the last week, and is expected to continue tomorrow, it's going to be a chaotic day - where ever you are in the bunch. "They're going to be crazy. There will be some riders that won't be able to start the day after. It's going to be something special," Vansummeren told Cyclingnews.

"The thing is, it's not the cobblestones. It's happened so much before with the positioning and the stress in the peloton, so it's important to be in a good position when you hit the stones."

The Belgian won Paris-Roubaix in 2011, after making a solo break with around 15 kilometres remaining. Vansummeren is into his 11th season as a professional and has a vast wealth of experience to draw when it comes to racing on the cobbles. He will no doubt be the man calling the shots on Wednesday.

Andrew Talansky is one of many riders who has never raced on the cobbles – nor has race leader Vincenzo Nibali. Vansummeren says that inexperience shouldn't be a problem with so many teams investing in course recons. Talansky can also rely on his teammates to get him through the day safely.

"We have me and (Sebastian) Langeveld, and I did the recon with Andrew. He's quite good on the cobble stones. I'm not too worried about the cobblestones," he explained. "Our hope is that he's just with the GC contenders. He doesn't have to be in the first group but if there's no one from the GC in the first and he is there and doesn't lose time, it's a good day."

Heading into the second stern test for the general classification riders, Talansky has kept himself out of trouble during the sprint stages, which is more than can be said for some of his rivals. The American goes into the crucial day only two seconds back from Nibali in the general classification.

"He is where he is supposed to be," said Vansummeren. "It's only the third day but, until now, everything is going to plan. Usually the first week, 10 days, are the most dangerous in the Tour. Then the mountains come and if he loses time there then ok, somebody else is stronger. Until now, knock on wood, we haven't had any bad luck and that's an important thing."

Rain is expected fall throughout tomorrow's stage, turning the cobbles into an ice rink. The last time it rained at Paris-Roubaix was 2002, when Johan Museeuw won and only 41 riders finished from a peloton of 190.

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