The Hell of the North is around the corner, that corner with the crappy stones that the French school kids from the horticultural program haven’t quite fixed. Note: if you crash in Arenberg or the Carrefour de l’Arbre, don’t blame another rider, call out the sloppy reconstruction work of the college kids.
Yes, the queen bitch of the classics draws near and we’ve got favorites all lined up hoping and praying. The race is already taking on new and potentially fatal complications — including the distinct possibility of rain.
Strongman Fabian Cancellara is spending quality time with his pregnant wife. No worries about him dominating the race with one nasty and definitive acceleration that leaves everyone dead on arrival. Count RadioShack Nissan-Trek out of the mix much to the displeasure of Trek.
Instead Belgian Tom Boonen must shoulder the added pressure of being the One Sure Bet in Roubaix. A monster energy strong Omega Pharma QuickPedalers is ready to give the race an old school spin like it’s Mapei in the late 90’s. With Terpstra and Chavanel and Boonen, it’s three cards to play and punishment to hand out.
Who will stand in there way of this juggernaut? Big George Hincapie and his awesome musical playlist, that’s who. Ahh, just kidding but it’s a good starting point.
Team BMC took third and fourth in the Ronde of Flanders. Alessandro Ballan, the man from Mantova, is back and ready to challenge in Roubaix. Good luck with that and double up on the growth hormone this week. Make it the Hormone of the North. Just kidding again, humorous cycling readers. We’ll throw in Greg Van Avermaet if for no other reason than his name sounds like a Roubaix winner. Phil Gil isn’t riding and Thor Hushovd is still few percentage points off top form and Taylor Phinney is about to discover the difference between the U23 version and the big boy pants Paris-Roubaix.
Garmin Barracuda brings last years stunning surprise winner (and Flanders barrier crasher) Johan Van Summeren. Really no reason for him to go full gas — his velodrome marriage proposal was successful so what’s to be gained? If Sep Vanmarcke couldn’t quite go the distance in the Ronde, we’re crossing him off the dark horse list. Jonathan Vaughters will have some clever scheme but the legs, where are the legs? Haussler still isn’t ready and nobody is counting on Farrar despite his love for the hard-man classics.
Second in Flanders, expectations are high for Italian Filippo Pozzato. He’s been a strong man mentally and physically this Spring and for Pippo, confidence is everything. His Farnese Vini Selle Italia manager claimed his man was the strongest in Flanders. We expect him to sit on Boonen’s wheel from the git-go. We’ve been buying lots of Pozzato stock this season and we see no reason to cross him off the podium in Roubaix. Some questioned his tactics in the final kilometers in the Ronde but it’s hard to fault him too much. But his chances of winning P-R are one mystery we can’t guess at.
After that the drop off in true, honest to Godverdomme favorites is huge. Boonen is in the drivers seat and really, does anyone expect 22 year old Peter Sagan to push him off the podium?