Special Paris-Roubaix Cycling News for April 14, 2007
Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Laura Weislo
A breakdown of Hell: The pavé of Paris-Roubaix
This coming Sunday, the roads of northeastern France will once again
play host to the biggest one-day bike race in the world, Paris-Roubaix.
But these are no ordinary roads, as Cyclingnews' resident pavé
basher Ben Atkins finds out.
Unlike Flanders, the secteurs (the French word for sectors) count you
down to the finish, which in one way is good as it lets you know where
you are in relation to the finish - but it also lets you know exactly
how many more times your body is going to have to be put through this
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
Secteur 28 - Troisvilles à Inchy
Length: 2.2 km
Km from start: 98
Km from finish: 161.5
route turns off the main road out of the picturesque village of Troisville
on to a narrow track and first timers get a nice rude awakening as to
why this race is so special. Sadly for the many riders here under sufferance,
the feed zone is another 47km away - the Euskaltel team springs to mind
here, now forced to ride under ProTour regulations, but teams like this
have always taken part in order to curry favour with the organisers ASO,
so that they could get a Tour de France invitation.
Coming up on
Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of
the Dauphiné Libéré live
as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe
time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).
WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/
Mercifully, this secteur is one of the more rideable ones, it has a gentle
slope in the riders' favour and isn't too badly surfaced. Only when it
takes a right angle left hander towards the village of Inchy does it start
to rise gradually, but it's soon over and the course rejoins the modern
here to read the full feature on the cobbles that make up the 'Hell
of the North'.
Boonen fighting with equal weapons again
Tom Boonen faces the press.
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
It's starting to become something of a tradition, Quick.Step-Innergetic
meeting the press in a grubby backroom of the old-fashioned Bar Tabac
L'Allumette in Bouvines after their reconnaissance of the Paris-Roubaix
cobbles. Brecht Decaluwé was there once more for Cyclingnews.
It could be me, but I had the impression things were different this year,
although I couldn't figure out what had changed. First of all, there was
much more sun, making it feel somewhat like a Tour de France rest day.
Probably because of the good weather, there were more local people at
the Bar Tabac. And why not pay a visit to cycling's prominent figurehead
Tom 'Tornado' Boonen? The Quick.Step riders arrived from their reconnaissance
ride, freshened up, and team leader Boonen strolled into L'Allumette.
Last year, Boonen was surprised to see so many people, saying the place
was getting too small - journalists responded by saying that he was getting
too big. This year, Boonen entered, sat down and looked somewhat bored
with yet another press conference on his plate. A journalist asked why
riders did the reconnaissance ride and Boonen answered rather tersely:
"Only because you guys want us here."
Luckily, for the assembled press at least, Boonen soon livened up, making
it an interesting brainstorm session. "Of course it's always interesting
to see the new sectors," noted the Belgian. "Sector 13 is very bad, it
won't be deciding for the race, it's just bad; they decided to throw some
cobbles on the ground there," he added, in his typical ironic style. Manager
Wilfried Peeters then explained that there's now less time for riders
to recuperate, as in the past this section was ridden on the main road.
The weather report for Sunday forecasts 26 degrees in the afternoon and
today was a nice preparation for those unseasonably warm conditions. "It
was very hot, I drank nine bidons of water; the heat will cause
breathing problems and crashes," Boonen predicted.
here to read the full recap of Friday's press conference with Tom
Discovery Channel's dark horses
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
Discovery Channel will be starting Paris-Roubaix without their key man
for the cobbles, George Hincapie, who is out with a broken wrist. But
the team has two lesser known prospects for Sunday's race: Russian muscleman
Vladimir Gusev and the Lithuanian star Tomas Vaitkus.
Both have their own strengths, with Gusev being more of a climber while
Vaitkus has a fast sprint in his legs, and both have a passion for the
cobbles, which is necessary to excel in Paris-Roubaix. Cyclingnews'
Brecht Decaluwé caught up with the two at the team's hotel in Compiègne
to find out more.
Vladimir Gusev crossed the line in the 2006 edition of the 'Hell of the
North' in fourth place, but you won't find his name on the results. Gusev
was one of the riders - together with Leif Hoste and Peter Van Petegem
- who were chasing the lead group when a train crossing's barriers closed
down in front of them, signalling an oncoming freighter. The trio crossed
the closed barriers and were subsequently disqualified, a harsh decision.
The Russian 24 year-old doesn't like to look back on that race. "People
saw everything, they saw what we encountered," Gusev said to Cyclingnews.
On Sunday Gusev will be one of the outsiders for the win, but he has
been doing well throughout the current season, with a fifth place in the
Ronde van Vlaanderen as highlight. "I am not the big favourite but for
sure, I have good legs so I'll keep going," Gusev said. Gusev picks the
same favourites as the bookmakers have chosen. "It would be a good experience
to beat Boonen and Cancellara."
here to read the full interview with Gusev and Vaitkus.
Going the distance
Franzoi with his machine.
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
24 year-old Enrico Franzoi did his lion's share in last Sunday's Ronde
van Vlaanderen to help Lampre-Fondital teammate Alessandro Ballan achieve
victory. The Italian cyclo-cross champion will form part of the eight-man
team roster for Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews
spoke with Franzoi as he prepared for the day's training ride.
"Last Sunday I used my strength to the fullest to help Alessandro [Ballan],"
commented Franzoi Saturday morning in Compiègne. He had spent over 200
kilometres off the front in the
Ronde as part of a three-man escape. The move enabled his team captain
to 'relax' as the other teams worked to control the time limit of the
Franzoi explained that the day went well for him, even if he was not
yet accustomed to riding such distances. "I spent 220 kilometres in the
escape," he noted. "I felt good, even if in the finale I finished in the
second group. I was happy with how my race went."
The race came all together before the Muur. It was on that penultimate
climb that Franzoi's teammates took over; first Daniele Bennati, marking
the move of Tom Boonen, then Ballan, who attacked for the win.
"My legs were over by the Muur," explained Franzoi with pride in his
accomplishment. "We were hoping to make it over the climb before the group
but it was fine all the same. I am really happy for Ballan; it is a really
good feeling to see your work pay off. I felt like I worked well for my
here to read the full interview with Franzoi.
"One train can hide another"
By Hedwig Kröner
Boonen, Ballan and Flecha waited
for the barriers to go up before crossing the tracks
Photo ©: AFP
Un train peut en cacher un autre ("One train can hide another"),
that is the French standard security warning at railway crossings throughout
the country. Last year at Paris-Roubaix, Leif Hoste, Peter Van Petegem
and Vladimir Gusev did not obey the prohibition of crossing a railway
when the barriers are down - the train was not yet in sight - and paid
for it greatly, as the race commissaires disqualified them.
The chasing Tom Boonen, Alessandro Ballan and Juan Antonio Flecha waited
patiently until the train had passed, but technically they went through
when the barriers were lowered, too, which caused some discussion after
This year, event organiser ASO has made contact with the SNCF French
railroads company, which appointed a special coordinator to inform the
race directors of the passing of freight trains, which are not subject
to any particular schedule. There are nine railway crossing on the parcours
from Compiègne to Roubaix, but it is impossible to avoid them when planning
the race course, so incidents of the same kind could still happen on Sunday.
In particular the railway crossing #142, located just before the Tranchée
d'Arenberg cobble section, could be a problem: A train is scheduled
to pass this point eight minutes before the fastest time schedule of the
riders (14.54). As ASO's Paris-Roubaix parcours director Thierry Gouvenou
explained, "How do you stop a 100-man peloton racing flat out to get to
the cobble section in a good position? It was already hot last year, when
the barriers were lifted 20 seconds before the first riders arrived..."
And at the last railway crossing of the parcours, in Chéreng, fatal
to Hoste, Van Petegem and Gusev in 2006, two trains are expected at 17.04
and 17.15, whilst the race is scheduled to cross this point between 16.55
and 17.33, depending on the average speed of the riders.
Benna looking better
By Gregor Brown in Compiègne
Daniele Bennati of Lampre-Fondital was knocked out after last weekend's
Ronde van Vlaanderen. The rider from Arezzo helped his teammate, Alessandro
Ballan, to victory but shortly after the race started feeling ill.
He spent two days without riding and was forced to miss the Gent-Wevelgem,
a race where he would have been a favourite to win. "I had to take two
days off because at one point I had a fever of 40°C," he said as the team
was preparing for a ride on Saturday morning. "The symptoms were the same
to what I had after Paris-Nice, with an upset stomach."
But now, Bennati recovered and focused on helping his teammate on Sunday.
"I want to start tomorrow to give Ballan a hand. He has a really good
chance of winning and I will do what I can," he said, looking good but
it will have to be seen how his legs react after his forced rest.
Pre-race quotes: Lancaster, Bäckstedt, Haussler & Vansevenant
By Jean-François Quénet in Compiègne
First Roubaix for an excited Lancaster
Brett Lancaster won the prologue
of the 2005 Giro d'Italia
Having raced for Pro Continental outfit Panaria for four years after debuting
with iTeamNova, Milram's Brett Lancaster will make his first appearance
in Paris-Roubaix, aged 27. "It's like a dream for me," he said. "I've always
wanted to do this race, I'll give my best. For Milram, it can't be worse
than it's been in the past few weeks. With all the crashes, we have lost
Zabel, Velo, Sacchi... Petacchi crashed as well in Gent-Wevelgem. Yesterday,
in training, we also lost Dyudya who crashed because his legs warmers got
caught in his fork, he's going to have an operation to his chin."
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
One year ago, the Australian Olympic champion for team pursuit broke
his collarbone broken in four parts and was being treated in the hospital
in Angers just a few rooms away from Saul Raisin, whose life was in danger.
"I feel much better being here on the cobblestones," Lancaster added.
"When I reconnoitred the course yesterday, my shoulder was a bit sore
though, it was the first time since I recovered."
As a result of the crashes that affected Milram, the Victorian will be
a protected rider. "I have no clue of this race but I know it will be
important to be up there in the forest. A few guys will be helping me.
I was 27th at the Tour of Flanders and I was happy. I'm still happy with
my form at the moment."
Bäckstedt: different approach and better form than in 2004
As planned, Magnus Bäckstedt abandoned in the Circuit de la Sarthe on
Thursday after coming 3rd in the individual time trial. He wanted to save
some energy for Paris-Roubaix, after having raced quite a lot. The Liquigas
rider also did the Settimana Lombarda one week ago. "It's a totally different
build-up than usual," he explained. "The other boys who want to win here
have done the other classics before. It means they have spent some energy
already. I hope it can play to my advantage."
The massive Swede surprised everyone when he made himself a winner in
Roubaix three years ago. "It's such a grueling race," he said. "I love
it. There's no other race like this one on the calendar. I feel like a
winner again. Actually, I feel even better on a bike than in 2004." Bookmakers
shouldn't under-rate him this time.
Heinrich Haussler is sick of crashing
Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Hernan Alvarez
Heinrich Haussler was totally exhausted when he pulled out of Paris-Nice
with the polka dot jersey on his shoulders. But the Australo-German has
definitely recovered. "I was feeling really good at the Tour of Flanders
but I had three crashes and my fork broke. Then in Gent-Wevelgem I crashed
too. I don't mind a too good weather for Paris-Roubaix because we've all
seen enough crashes in the previous classics. We don't necessarily need
rain at the moment."
The Inverell-born rider will start Paris-Roubaix for the third time,
even though he's still only 23 years old. "That's my highlight for the
season. To enter the top 20 would be good. Anything better is welcome."
Haussler finished in 25th place two years ago, when he raced Paris-Robaix
for the first time.
Predictor's Vansevenant predicts early attacks
After so many years at the service of Peter van Petegem, 35 years-old
Wim Vansevenant will race Paris-Roubaix against his best mate who has
switched to the rivals of Quick-Step. "It's a huge change for me," he
reckoned. "But Leif Hoste has also been a friend of both of us for years.
He has learned his job with us and he came back after two years with Discovery."
Vansevenant was away during the Tour of Flanders when Predictor-Lotto
decided to make the race harder for Hoste. "It's been the key of the race,"
the man from the north coast said. "We want to change Leif's second place
in Meerbeke to a first one in Roubaix. The team has worked really well
during the last week. I can't complain about anything. The team has been
built around one man only. It's has always worked like that at Lotto.
It's the same even without Peter."
The fully Flemish team could be unhappy with the hot and nice weather
predicted for Sunday. "For many riders, it's better," Vansevenant corrected.
"There are less risks than with the rain. Many guys will want to attack
very early. It's going to be a big mess. It's also just as hot as in the
Tour de France! The heat will have a strong influence on the race, that's
for sure. We'll be thirsty. We'll have to drink a lot and make sure that
we don't lose our bottles..."
Fantasy Spring Classics game ready for Paris-Roubaix!
provisional rider-list for the Paris-Roubaix race has been uploaded to
the Fantasy Cyclingnews Game site, and the game is ready to play! Pick
your teams now! Keep in mind, teams may change overnight, so be sure to
check in on Sunday for the final start list.. Don't miss out, enter your
teams now and you too could win in tomorrow's Paris-Roubaix.
Remember you don't need to have competed in all the previous races to
stand a chance of winning the Spring Classic prize. You can just play
for one race to win a pair of BBB glasses.
If you have competed in all the races though here's a quick reminder
of what's on offer:
The Grand Prize is a Specialized S-Works
Roubaix bicycle in Quick Step - Innergetic colors equipped with Shimano
Dura-Ace components and S-Works FACT over-sized carbon cranks and bottom
bracket worth $6000 USD! That's not all you could win in this year's Fantasy
games. To celebrate our fifth year of Fantasy games the Spring Classics
will also be featuring some top runner-up prizes.
Play this year's fantasy
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
The first runner-up prize this year is a Cycleops
Powertap 2.4 (wireless) worth $1499 USD. Cycleops upgraded the world's
most accurate, lightest power meter to be the world's first wireless meter,
meaning you can easily switch it between bikes.
A pair of BBB's "Winner
Team" glasses are on offer for the highest scoring Fantasy team in
every Classic. You don't have to take part in all seven races to stand
a good chance of winning this prize. The highest score per classic wins
a pair of the official sports-glasses of the 2007 Quick-Step Innergetic
professional cycling team.
Speedplay is back behind the fantasy
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
We are proud to announce the continued support from Speedplay in this
year's game. We have three sets of Speedplay's Zero stainless
steel pedals - the same style of pedal used by ProTour teams such
as Team CSC.
We are also pleased to confirm that Descente will be joining the list
of runner-up prize sponsors. Produced in conjunction with Team CSC, the
Optima Bib Short is the culmination of hundreds of hours of research
and testing. Constructed of two different textiles, the main body features
Aero-X fabric, a dual-denier Nylon with spandex for great moisture-management,
durability, comfort and fit.
The highest scoring Fantasy team
in each classic
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
Cyclists depend on good nutrition to meet the demands of the sport. That's
why Nutra Fig developed the organic
Cheetah Bar. It contains the right combination of carbs, protein and
fiber to give you long lasting energy, and it is moist and tastes great.
Cheetah bars are loaded with potassium, sodium and calcium—all found naturally
in the ingredients so no chemical additives are needed. Cheetah Bar is
the official energy bar of the Colavita/Sutter Home Pro Cycling Team.
We have 10 boxes of Cheetah
Bars on offer this year.
Mesh from Scandinavia's leading high-performance clothing company,
Craft, is the professional's choice when it comes to base layers. The
proCOOL Mesh is a warm weather base layer that combines the latest in
fabric technology with Craft's signature fit. Even as temperatures soar,
proCOOL keeps you dry and comfortable. For the 2007 Spring Classics Fantasy
Game, we have 10 of these great
base layers on offer.
In the next few days we will be releasing more details of the prizes
on offer this season with 46 prizes available for 18 lucky winners, and
some major improvements in the game engine coming soon, now is the time
to sign up to the Fantasy Cyclingnews Games.
How to play
With a Specialized S-Works Roubaix
bicycle up for grabs
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
Yes, you too can be a professional team manager. Based on the live racing
action, you will take up the challenge using your knowledge and tactical
skill as a race team manager to compete with fantasy managers from around
the world. Remember all you need to do to take part is to register
and select eight riders for each of the following races:
Paris - Roubaix, April 15, 2007
Amstel Gold Race, April 21, 2007
La Flèche Wallonne, April 25, 2007
Liège - Bastogne - Liège, April 29, 2007
For more details on how to play go to the rules section of the site for more info. To register your teams
for the game, click
It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team
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