Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale) is looking to carry his form and excellent performance from the Tour of Flanders into Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. The 23-year-old finished sixth in Flanders, the best result he and his team has mustered in the Classics all season after a spate of crashes and illness disrupted their chances.
Van Baarle finished 133rd in last year’s Paris-Roubaix but he has emerged as Cannondale’s most consistent rider on the cobbles this spring with a top-twenty ride in E3 Harelbeke proceeding his fine Flanders performance.
The forecast for Paris-Roubaix is for dry weather but with rain forecast for Saturday, the pave could be wet in certain sections. Should the conditions remain wet, Van Baarle believes that the race will transform into an entirely different proposition. The last truly wet Paris-Roubaix was over a decade ago, meaning that the majority of the peloton have not encountered those conditions.
“It’s like a new race if it’s wet because it’s been a long time since we’ve had a new Roubaix,” Van Baarle told Cyclingnews.
“For me it doesn’t matter if it’s wet or dry, I just want to get the best result possible again.”
In Flanders Van Baarle made it into the main break of the day, and survived when the main contenders moved up from the peloton. Anticipating the attacks from riders such as Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara is now considered a key ingredient in the success of riders who lack the horsepower to go with the winning attacks.
Having pulled off the one move once already, Van Baarle is hoping to replicate it again.
“If I want to ride a good result then I think I need to do the same as I did in Flanders, and try to be in the front when guys like Sagan and Cancellara attack. I think maybe Sagan is maybe a little bit better than Cancellara. They’re outstanding and it’s hard to follow them but that could work against them as they’re so strong maybe people don’t want to work with them. It could be a really open race with some surprises on the podium.”
Van Baarle’s own improvement in the last year has been notable. He is a young talent and has made steady progress since joining the professional ranks but a change of winter preparation has been key, with his team manager Jonathan Vaughters now directly responsible for the rider's training programmes.
“I was not surprised but I was hoping for it. The week before Flanders whole team was a bit sick but I think we had a good recovery week and we were fresh for Flanders. I had a good day and we deserved sixth after all the sickness and crashes we had. I was focused as normal and you don’t need to change the focus."
“I’m a year stronger but this year I changed all my training in the winter and I’m working with JV and he makes my training programmes. That’s worked out really well. It was a hard winter but if you see the results now you can see it’s working.”
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