An interview with Matteo Tosatto, April 14, 2007
Quick.Step will rely on solid domestiques to win the 105th Paris-Roubaix. For Sunday, Team Manager Patrick Lefevere, the Belgian behind eight wins in the 'Hell of the North', has called upon Matteo Tosatto. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown spoke with the Italian after he finished a training run with the team.
Looking more relaxed than his Belgian team-mates, Matteo Tosatto fumbled through the belongings of the team's car while his captains Tom Boonen and Peter Van Petegem were talking the press. Part of his calm demeanour comes from the experience of being a professional for 10 years and that he had just had a successful preview of Sunday's parcours.
"Today we did a good ride; we saw the forest [of Arenberg] and the other, most decisive, sectors. We rode about 10 sectors, the one before Arenberg up until here," said the 32 year-old outside of the Bar Tabac L'Allumette in Cysoing, France. Quick.Step had just finished its reconnaissance of the most important pavé sectors of the 259.5-kilometre Paris-Roubaix.
"It was really important to try out our bikes and to put ourselves in the right mindset," explained the winner of stage 18 of the Tour de France in Mâcon last year. His captain will use an aluminium frame while Tosatto will stick with his standard-issue ride. "I will ride with a normal carbon bike but with a different fork, one that has more rake," he explained.
Another important factor for some riders is how to handle the pavé. Most are used to the French cobbles being damp and slippery, and not in their current dry condition. The recent lack of rain in Europe will spell for a dust bowl on Sunday. TV motor bikes and officials' cars will kick up dirt off the ground making it very difficult for the following riders. Tosatto noted that dust will play a factor during the race.
"It is really dry out there on the pavé. With us eight and the few cars with us it was very difficult to breathe. We will have to drink a lot.
"I have heard that the forecast is for even hotter temperatures. Roubaix is difficult if it rains but also if it does not rain, because of the dust that can be created. I hope for the best... You know last year it rained on the day before and made the course perfect for Sunday. However, it is this way this year and we will have to race however it is."
Earlier in the day Gert Steegmans noted how the dust and hot temperatures will play havoc on his Pollen allergies but Tosatto is not concerned for himself. "For me it won't be a problem to breathe," continued the rider from Vallà di Riese Pio X (near Treviso) as the sun beamed down. "What is important is that my condition seems great and that we are a team that is trying to win. The team will aim to win with Tom [Boonen] but, in my opinion, there will also be a few surprises."
Tosatto has no illusions of winning the race and, instead, will dedicate himself totally to the 2005 world champion. He noted how the team is still working out the details but thinks his turn in helping will come in the earlier moments of the race.
"My work will be to help Tom as much as possible. Starting from the beginning of the race, I will take him as far as I can and position him at the front for the pavé sectors. The team will discuss the final race plans when it meets on Saturday."
Tosatto will also keep an eye on the riders who could threaten Boonen's run at a second Paris-Roubaix victory. "The favourites I think will be [Fabian] Cancellara, [Alessandro] Ballan and... Well, in my opinion, they are the two main favourites.
"I don't say any names from my team because it is better luck to talk of the others. There will also be Hushovd, Hoste, O'Grady... There are a lot that have the possibility to win. There is also [Filippo] Pozzato. He is able to do a good race. He is going strong and could also win but needs to have a little bit of luck. It is a race that is like that; there are some that can go really strong but just lack a little bit of good fortune.
"I hope that it will be a beautiful Roubaix without a lot of bad luck and crashes."