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“We are not so nervous as one year ago, and we have less stress than one week ago. We already have [Ronde van Vlaanderen] in the pocket," Demol says

Photo: Sirotti

BOY VAN POPPEL

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FABIAN CANCELLARA

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GREGORY RAST

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HAYDEN ROULSTON

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JESSE SERGENT

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MARKEL IRIZAR ARANBURU

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PARIS - ROUBAIX

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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YAROSLAV POPOVYCH

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12.04.2014 @ 14:19 Posted by Emil Axelgaard
TREK FACTORY RACING IS READY TO TAKE ON THE THIRD MONUMENT OF THE SEASON, THE ICONIC “HELL OF THE NORTH”, AS FABIAN CANCELLARA LEADS THE TEAM INTO THE QUEEN OF THE CLASSICS, AIMING TO REPEAT HIS VICTORY OF LAST YEAR.
 

Last Monday, April 7th, Paris-Roubaix organizers ASO re-rated the 51.1 kilometers of cobblestone secteurs for the 112th edition according to length, unevenness of the cobbles, overall condition, and their location in the race. The ratings range from 1-5 stars, and the conditions of the pavé can change from year to year, even week to week, depending on harsh winters, and current weather conditions. So every year a surveillance of the cobblestone secteurs takes place prior to the running of the “Hell of the North”, both by the race organizers and teams.

 

This year the three most difficult and decisive sectors, each rated five stars, remain the same as years past: Trouée d'Arenberg (161.5km), then the longest sector of three kilometers, Mons-en-Pevele (208km), and the final treacherous romp, Le Carrefour de L'Arbre (240km), just 27 kilometers from the finish.

 

The sheer length of the race (257km), the 28 sectors of precarious cobblestones, the narrow, serpentine roads, and often the weather, all play into Paris-Roubaix being, if not the hardest, certainly the most idiosyncratic race on the calendar.  Last year it was dry and dusty, and the forecast for this Sunday is looking to be much the same.

 

“Right now it’s looking like it’s going to be dry, little chance of rain tomorrow, but a dry race for Sunday, and this means there will be a lot of dust on the cobbles,” said director Dirk Demol on Thursday, just after the team had finished its reconnaissance of the course. “This is good, with Flanders we did not mind if it rained, but here it’s different, and we are glad it will stay dry. The cobbles, though, are really sharp and there will be more chance of punctures.

 

“We have some other cobbled sections that we did in years past that are back this year, nothing special, nothing spectacular, just some different sections. From the forest of Arenberg it is exactly the same parcours.  For our reconnaissance today we started with the sector just before the forest, Haveluy, and we followed the parcours until Le Carrefour de l’Arbre. This is the most important part of the race.”

 

Trek Factory Racing will take the start in Compiègne with an almost identical lineup as Ronde van Vlaanderen last Sunday: Fabian Cancellara, Boy Van Poppel, Gregory Rast, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent, Yaroslav Popovych, Markel Irizar and Jasper Stuyven.  The only change is Van Poppel being brought in as replacement for the injured Stijn Devolder. With both Devolder and Popovych sustaining injuires from crashes in Flanders, and both sitting out Scheldeprijs this week as a result, the question remains: Would they be ready for Sunday?

 

There is little doubt that Fabian Cancellara will go into Paris-Roubaix as one of the favorites, especially after he showed incredible sprinting prowess in Milan-Sanremo by finishing second, and again by winning Ronde van Vlaanderen last week in a four-up sprint finish. Where once there was a bigger chance of victory by containing a “Spartacus” solo effort and taking him to the line in a sprint, now even that seems to be a dangerous move; tactically the teams will look to rid themselves of the one man, who, without question, is amongst a handful or riders tipped to win on the cobbled roads of Northern France.

 

“If the other teams make a cohesion against us, I would say they have a problem, not us – the other teams have more pressure than us to win, we have already won last Sunday, and for them to play those tactics would not be smart,” responded Demol when asked if the teams may ride against Fabian. “We are going to make our own race. There are a few good teams like QuickStep and BMC, and of course riders like Sep Vanmarcke - I expect to see the same riders in the final. But we are going to do our own race, our own tactics, and we have many to play during the race.”

 

“But one thing is certain,” added Demol, “We are not so nervous as one year ago, and we have less stress than one week ago. We already have [Ronde van Vlaanderen] in the pocket. It was the same thing last year, we won Flanders, but Fabian was doing such a big demonstration last year that everybody was asking to ride all against us, and I don’t think it will be the case [this year].  It was a difficult week last year with Fabian crashing in Scheldeprijs and then again in the recon, and it gave us extra stress. This year we will again go for it, but we are much more relaxed. I have full confidence in the team, and I know we will again do a great race.”

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