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Colbrelli takes 2022 inspiration from emotional Paris-Roubaix victory

ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 03 Sonny Colbrelli of Italy and Team Bahrain Victorious celebrates winning the race and kisses his cobblestone trophy on the podium ceremony after the 118th ParisRoubaix 2021 Mens Eilte a 2577km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix on October 03 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Sonny Colbrellie (Bahrain Victorious) holds aloft the Paris-Roubaix trophy of 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Sonny Colbrelli revealed he often watches the video of his Paris-Roubaix victory and his emotional celebration but the Bahrain Victorious rider refuted suggestions that success will change him as he targets the 2022 Classics and looks to take on Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

The Italian rolled on the grass of the Roubaix velodrome in a mix of tears of joy and the laughter of disbelief after beating Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Van der Poel in the velodrome on a wet and muddy day in the Hell of the North last October.

Colbrelli was always a consistent sprinter and Classics rider but the Paris-Roubaix victory elevated him to a new dimension, especially in Italy.

"People say I haven't perhaps realised what I've done but I often watch the race again and I'm happier and prouder to have won than ever before. But I haven't changed, I'm the same person I was before I won Paris-Roubaix. That's important to me," Colbrelli said during a video call from the Bahrain Victorious training camp in Spain.

"Winning Paris-Roubaix paid me back for years of sacrifice and hard work and it gives me even more morale for the future. I know that a lot of people will be marking me but I know I'm one of the biggest riders in the Classics now, the world rankings show that. I'm proud of that but it's also an extra responsibility. I hope to stay up there with Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel."

Colbrelli is already training seriously as he hopes for more Classics success in the spring. While Bahrain Victorious have still to finalise the Grand Tour objectives and roles of Damiano Caruso and Mikel Landa, Colbrelli's early season is a long list of major goals. 

"My outline programme will be much like this year. I'll start with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, then we'll decide if I ride Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. After that I'll ride all the Classics, starting with Milan-San Remo and ending with Paris-Roubaix," he detailed.

"Training-wise I won't change anything apart from doing more altitude training at the very start of the season, as I did after the Tour de France. That's the big change."

Colbrelli spent two blocks of the summer at altitude, training in the Italian Alps, continuing to lose weight and improve his climbing ability. The first block gave him the form to win the Italian national title, while a second block laid the foundations for his end of season peak, his European title where he beat Remco Evenepoel in Trento, and of course his Paris-Roubaix win.

"Winning the Italian national championship changed me and led to my other successes," he explained.

"Winning like I'd never won before, with an aggressive finale at the Italian championships changed me and taught me I don't always need to wait for a sprint finish, where I risk losing to a faster sprinter. That's how I raced later in the season and it worked out well. Those results proved to me that I can race with the biggest riders in the sport."

Colbrelli will spearhead Bahrain Victorious' Classics campaign but Matej Mohorič confirmed in a separate call that he will also target the Classics after his double Tour de France stage wins in 2021. He focused on the Ardennes Classics in the spring but the first part of his 2022 season will be packed with cobbles as Bahrain Victorious beef up their Classics squad around Colbrelli and look to continue the success of Gino Mader, Damiano Caruso, Jack Haig, Mohorič and Dylan Teuns.      

"We'll have a strong team and I won't be the only leader," Colbrelli made clear.

"I'll have some strong riders alongside me like Matej Mohoric, Heinrich Haussler, Fred Wright and others. They'll be important for the Classics.

"If I'm not at my best, I'll be the first to help my teammates like Matej. We did that in the past at the Benelux Tour and will do it again. We've shown our strengths in the past and that we can be competitive."

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