Merckx talking up Wiggo for Roubaix.
Eddie Merckx, new head of the Bradley Wiggins fan club?
The portly ex-cannibal is talking up Wiggins’ chances of winning Paris-Roubaix and then setting an untouchable Hour Record. Should he manage both of those difficult feats, Merckx is prepared to elevate Wiggins to official, Hall of the Greats, bad-ass-ness.
“He’ll be there for sure and if he wins there, for his career, and goes on to take the Hour Record, that will make him a big champion, a very complete champion.”
The “if” in the middle of that last sentence is the tricky part. As Wiggins himself noted — in his own inimitable style — winning Roubaix is sort of like wanting to master the moonwalk dance move. “Sometimes you have to accept you can’t do certain things in life, and I may never win Roubaix. It won’t be for the lack of trying, same as if I took lessons to try to moonwalk, which I’ll never do to the extent of Michael Jackson.”
For the historical record it should also be noted that Michael Jackson never attempted Paris-Roubaix even though it would have been a Thriller.
We’re not aware of Merckx’s dance skills — perhaps he has a pretty good moonwalk — but we’re guessing he doesn’t. Maybe a passable foxtrot but we doubt he’s good with the tango. Perhaps he won’t understand the analogy but having won the race himself three times, he does know it ain’t easy.
“Paris-Roubaix is a race where it’s every man for himself. If you’re good on the pave then you just need that little bit of luck so that you don’t have a flat at a bad moment,” said Merckx.
Twisted Spoke is a fan of storybook endings and it would be sweet indeed to see a guy like Wiggins, a recent Tour de France winner, triumph on the cobblestones and end his career on a fabulous note. However, that “little bit of luck” is hard to come by in Paris Roubaix.
We might argue that Wiggins had already used up that good fortune with his surprising and impressive 7th place finish last year. He proved the doubters wrong and maybe he will prove us wrong twice. As he has shown us again and again, give him a goal he’s excited about and he will put in a dominant performance.
It’s going to be a particularly awesome Paris-Roubaix this year — as if they all aren’t awesome in their own particular way. Boonen is looking to break Roger De Vlaeminck’s record of four wins and take over the title of Mr. Paris Roubaix. Which looks really cool on your mailbox and business cards.
Meanwhile the aging Fabian Cancellara will make another run at winning four, hoping his new leadership skills and the addition of lieutenant Gert Steegmans will make a difference in the Hell of the North.
Then we have hungry, snarling wolves like Lars Boom (Astana), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), John Degenkolb (Giant-Hairgrowth). Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL- Jumbo), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff- Saxo), Geraint Thomas (Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka). That’s a pretty stacked race and just for pure yuks and irony, let’s throw in Filippo Pozzatto.
Do the math on all those figures and that little bit of luck needs to be pretty good sized. Still, Merckx is talking up Wiggins like he used to talk up Lance Armstrong. “The others will have to watch out for Wiggins because he’s a great rider and he used Qatar as preparation. He can’t be overlooked. I think he’s one of the top favorites for Roubaix.”
Moonwalking over the cobblestones. That, we gotta see.