"I guess good things come to those who want it bad enough. I won't say wait because I'd been waiting a long time," he said.
In his debut season in the WorldTour with Saxo-Tinkoff in 2012, he earned a start in the Tour de France, one that is unlikely to be repeated this time around with Alberto Contador back in business and the focus definitely on the general classification, rather than stage victories. Roubaix was supposed to happen last year as well however, a crash after the finish line at Scheldeprijs left him with a punctured lung and waiting for the day the opportunity would come his way again.
"I had 18 top 10s [in 2012] and I think when you get to my age you realise that there's not too many years left that you can muck around or have wasted opportunities so every race and every year is important," he explained.
Last month, he took on a brutal Milan-San Remo for that second strike but what lies ahead for Cantwell, The Hell of the North, has him seriously motivated.
"I'm geed and I can't wait to get out there tomorrow," he told Cyclingnews at the team presentation at Compiegne. "We did recon two days ago and if I can just finish it, it will be pretty cool."
It's been a week since Cantwell made his debut at the Tour of Flanders, but it was an experience that continues to confound him.
"At Flanders last weekend it was just mind-boggling how many cobbles there were and which climb was which. I'm still confused.
"My job was to try and get into the early break," he continued. "Which I tried pretty hard and as you know it took two hours for the break to go and by that time the guys who were in the break were knackered. My next job was to look after Matti Breschel going into the first time up the Oude Kwaremont so I was sitting on the front for him for about four kilometers and by the time we actually hit the Oude Kwaremont I was hammered."
In between he took on Scheldeprijs, but given the events of 12 months ago, he took to the start line full of trepidation.
"I was really nervous on Wednesday doing Scheldeprijs and was a little bit hesitant," Cantwell described. "I didn't really want to get involved with it." He finished 15th.
On Sunday, he will again be doing the hard yards for Breschel and Matteo Tosatto.
"Fingers crossed," Cantwell said. "I think we've got a really good team here this year. Everyone's riding really well and you just need a lot of luck on a race like this. If we get some luck and the guys have got good legs then we should pull a top five or a podium."
With Roubaix out of the way, Cantwell will focus on stage racing again, with the Tour of Turkey, followed by the Tour of California.
"It would be good to try and get some wins in California," he told Cyclingnews, eager for a return to the United States where he made his name on the criterium circuit, wearing the national champion's colours three years running. A long way from Roubaix.
"It's a good opportunity for me to get some rider value points and some results on the board."
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