Stefano Zanini is tasked with guiding a relatively inexperienced Astana team through Paris-Roubaix this Sunday. However with Borut Bozic in form the team has a chance of securing a top ten result.
In his riding days Zanini was one of the most underrated one day riders of his generation and raced in the shadow of an Italian generation that included Michele Bartoli and Franco Ballerini. However he managed to compile a palmares that included an Amstel Gold (1996), Milano–Torino (1995), Paris–Brussels (1998) and several top ten placings in Milan-San Remo. In 1996 he was the Mapei rider to miss out on the famous one, two three at Paris-Roubaix, crossing the line in fourth. As well as a one-day rider he was also a leadout man and sprinter, wining the final stage of the 2000 Tour de France in Paris.
On Sunday the 44-year-old will try and use his one-day experience to help Bozic and Jacopo Guarnieri. Bozic has started the spring in the better form, taking second places in both Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem, although both races are different propositions to the pave served up at Roubaix.
"Our team captains are Borut Bozic and Jacopo Guarnieri, both strong veterans of this race. Borut is especially strong right now, and we will work to support him over the pave. The difficulties will come in the first few sectors when the peloton is racing 60km per hour to get onto the cobbles, and everyone is fighting for position. Once the selections are made and the leaders have established their groups, the real teamwork begins," said Zanini.
"The weather for the weekend is continued cold, with a slight improvement from the wintry conditions over the last three weeks of racing. We may see the sun, but the temperature will probably stay around 10C," said Astana Pro Team Director Sportif Stefano Zanini.
The Astana team includes the youthful inexperience of Evan Huffman, who was drafted in last week. The Californian-born neo-pro has net to no experience of riding on the cobbles but told Cyclingnews last week that he would embrace the challenge.
"We have four young riders this year at Paris-Roubaix, with Kamyshev, Tleubayev, Huffman and Guardini. Each of them has a specific talent on the bike that we hope to use on Sunday. This race is something special, something unique in the World Tour season, and our goal is to bring Bozic and Guarnieri to the front and support them in the finale," said Zanini.