Garmin Sharp's sports director Geert Van Bondt was taking positives where he could from the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday - Tyler Farrar's last hit out before Paris-Roubaix - with the team's lone protected rider for Sunday, Johan Vansummeren out on a long training ride.
"I think the most important thing is that you come out of this race without crashes like you had last year at the finish line," Van Bondt told Cyclingnews with Farrar back in the team bus.
Notoriously hectic over the finishing laps, Farrar finished in sixth place with Argos-Shimano's Marcel Kittel first across the line in a repeat victory. Van Bondt was yet to speak with the American sprinter, choosing instead to let him cool off before sitting down with him in the evening.
"Tyler's riding very well," Van Bondt said. "He did good on Sunday in Flanders and I think most riders were taking a training day - not Tyler of course, he's been working very hard for this race and I think he did a very good race. He was there where he had to be. If you see also in the sprint it's pretty hectic and you need some luck to be in a good wheel and in good position. He was sixth and he came here to win. He will be disappointed."
Van Bondt believes that the team can head into Paris-Roubaix with confidence, off the back of Farrar's performance on Wednesday, and also with Van Summeren's 20th in Flanders having finished in the main chase group.
"[Van Summeren] He was in the small group on the Patersberg," explained Van Bondt. "He knows it was going to be very difficult to follow Sagan and Cancellara because they're from another planet, they were so strong but I think he's on the level where he wants to be and he has a lot of confidence for Sunday."
Van Summeren's result at Flanders is a highlight in a lean classics season for Garmin which has been ravaged by illness and injury over recent weeks.
"Of course we expected maybe more but we had somebody like Nick [Nuyens] who's out, [David] Millar who was sick, Ramunas [Navardauskas] who was sick and then you lose a lot," Van Bondt admitted. "But Johan is on the level where we want him to be and if he wins on Sunday, all the rest is forgotten."
When Van Summeren won Paris-Roubaix in 2011, he soloed to victory having survived from an early breakaway. Unwilling to make any predictions about how Sunday's race would play out, Van Bondt did say that much was dependent on the form of Fabian Cancellara.
"Will he be alone or have teammates; that's the thing," he asked rhetorically. "You can make 100 tactics but it can be tactic 101 that wins it. The most important thing for me is that you mark the points where the team has to be in front - that's the first couple of sections to Wallers. And then after Wallers you have to see how many riders you have left and then you have to see how the race develops."
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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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