Twelve months ago Garmin was on the verge of a disastrous Classics campaign. Out of sorts and out of shape the team was without a result heading into Paris-Roubaix. Johan Vansummeren changed all of that with his win on the Roubaix velodrome, a triumph that encapsulated Garmin's ethos to be seen as a team, rather than a group of individuals.
A year on from Vansummeren's win and Garmin-Barracuda is in a different position. Their spring campaign has been better than most, with Sep Vanmarcke winning Omloop in February, and holding his form throughout the subsequent months, with 7th in Dwars Door Vlaanderen and 5th in E3 Harelbeke.
After a slightly disappointing Tour of Flanders in which Vanmarcke ran out of gas, attention turns back to Vansummeren, one of Garmin's most consistent and experienced Roubaix riders.
At the presentation in Compiegne today Vansummeren was the same as ever, calm and cool as his long limbs stretched their way to the podium to be introduced to the crowd. A Roubaix win has hardly changed the 31-year-old, who displays no evidence of ego despite wining one of cycling's most illustrious races. The only difference to last year's presentation is the number of autographs he must sign in between his walk from the team bus to the square in Compiegne.
"I don't let [being defending champion] put too much pressure on me," Vansummeren told Cyclingnews in this exclusive video.
"I always want to be good here, it's one of my goals for the season, whether I'm the defending champion or not."
If he is to retain his Paris-Roubaix crown Vansummeren will surely have to employ different tactics to last year, when he was allowed to escape in a 17-man move before soloing to the finish as a number of teams, including Garmin, concentrated on marking Fabian Cancellara out of the race.
This year there is no Cancellara, and Vansummeren wears dossard number one. It's a different race, but the same old Vansummeren.
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