Tom Boonen was making sure his back was covered while being interviewed by multiple TV crews and simultaneously dealing with the crush of local fans begging for his autograph, but at the same time, one rider stepped away from the scrum and into the sun. Characteristically tan, Peter Van Petegem stepped out to bask in the rays while being interviewed by some Belgian journalists, and Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé was there to find out how one of the most experienced riders is feeling about this year's 'Hell of the North'.
Van Petegem radiates experience, and it was impossible to make him worried about Sunday's appointment in the North of France. "What can you say? Everything depends on how the race develops," Van Petegem said to Cyclingnews. Fortunately, it isn't just about luck in a race of 259km. The Belgian former winner of the double Tour of Flanders / Paris-Roubaix is known to enjoy longer distances.
Current star Boonen had just called Van Petegem the fastest man of on the cobbles of the past decade, referring to the moment where Van Petegem blasted past him and George Hincapie after puncturing in 2004. "Ah, Boonen and Steegmans can do it as fast as I can," Van Petegem remained modest. "But it's true that some can pedal a bit faster than some others after that distance; the adrenaline of the moment helped as well, that's probably the 1% which can make the difference in Paris-Roubaix."
When asked about favourites for the 2007 edition of Paris-Roubaix Van Petegem picked some less expected names. "Who did well in those dry editions? [Magnus] Backstedt, Steffen Wesemann, Roger Hammond... in the present it's more about the teams; I expect CSC and Lampre to be strong," the 'black one from Brakel' explained.
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