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Sep Vanmarcke returns to Paris-Roubaix at head of Israel Start-Up Nation
Cobblestone veteran Sep Vanmarcke returns to Paris-Roubaix for the ninth time this weekend. The Belgian will lead an Israel Start-Up Nation squad, which also includes Danish powerhouse Mads Würtz Schmidt, classics strongman Tom van Asbroeck and the Canadian rider Guillaume Boivin.
After finishing in the top-6 in five previous rides at Paris-Roubaix, Vanmarcke is one of the most experienced riders on the pavé in the modern peloton. However, the late-season calendar slot and forecast for rain make this weekend’s race a voyage into the unknown, even for the enduring 33-year-old.
“Normally, this race is the last cobbled classic after a long period of spring classics, but now it is on its own, at the end of the cycling calendar. That will feature different racing. Some riders might already be looking forward to off-season after a long period of racing, while others might be even stronger than they normally are in spring,” Vanmarcke said.
Spring Classic in Autumn: @sepvanmarcke leads ISN in a postponed edition of Paris-Roubaix.
A tricky edition? It might be, given the time of the season and the weather forecasts.
— Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy (@TeamIsraelSUN) October 1, 2021
ISN has the luxury of both Vanmarcke and team director Dirk Demol’s experience this weekend. Demol won the race in 1988, beating Laurent Fignon and Thomas Wegmuller. The staffer spoke of the perils of this weekend’s race, which is likely to see several cobblestone sectors slick with mud.
“Some of them have moss and grass in between the cobbles, which make them extra slippery. The farmers have already started harvesting their fields, meaning that there are sectors with mud on them,” Demol said.
“I speak from experience … when it is wet, and now especially in this part of the season, it is going to be very treacherous. I did Paris-Roubaix in wet conditions, and it is another kind of race.”
Israel Start-Up Nation Roubaix roster:
- Rudy Barbier
- Hugo Hofstetter
- Jenthe Biermans
- Tom van Asbroeck
- Sep Vanmarcke
- Guillaume Boivin
- Mads Würtz Schmidt
Team Delko to ride Roubaix in special La Vie Claire throwback jerseys
Team Delko will be throwing it back to 1985 this weekend. The French pro continental team will be wearing special-edition 1985 season La Vie Claire replica kit, complete with Look’s Mondrian-style logo, at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.
1985 was the founding year of the Look-sponsored La Vie Claire team, which featured riders including Bernard Tapie and Bernard Hinault, as well as the year the French manufacturer introduced the groundbreaking Look PP65 clipless pedal.
Delko will don its special 1985 throwback jerseys Sunday in a nod to their sponsor’s groundbreaking impact on the modern peloton.
“We are proud of our heritage acquired at the highest level and of the work carried out with the teams and athletes during all these years. It is an important and strong event for us to bring the 1985 legacy back to the fore with the Delko team,” said Look CEO Federico Musi. “We have supported this team since its inception and have seen it grow step by step. The whole Look family wishes the best for this year 2021.”
Deceuninck-Quick-Step brings experienced squad
Deceuninck-Quick-Step is bringing a well-rounded and experienced squad to the rescheduled 2021 Paris-Roubaix.
With eight cobbled classic wins shared among the seven starters, the “Wolfpack” looks to have the experience to take control of the mens’ “Hell of the North” Sunday.
Kasper Asgreen has the 2021 Ronde van Vlaanderen title, Davide Ballerini is the 2021 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner, Yves Lampaert is twice a winner at the Dwars door Vlaanderen and was third at the previous edition of Paris-Roubaix, Florian Sénéchal was sixth in the 2019 Paris-Roubaix, and Zdeněk Štybar was second across the finish in the Roubaix velodrome 2015 and 2017. Bert Van Lerberghe and the “Tractor” Tim Declercq will also be on hand to do the work for the team.
Sport director Tom Steels is positive about the team’s chances, and his outlook on the race identifies weather as being a factor in the outcome.
Lisa Brennauer: ‘A cool step for women’s cycling’
Race favorite Lisa Brennauer says Paris-Roubaix Femmes is a “cool step for women’s cycling,” and doesn’t want to miss it.
“It’s a brutal race that we’ve all followed many many times on television, and now we finally can take on this challenge ourselves. So I think it’s a cool step for women’s cycling and I’m excited to be part of it,” she said Thursday. “I like the style of the race. I think it’s also something that suits me as a rider. So I’m extra motivated for this first edition.”
The Ceratizit-WNT rider said she expects a rough and tumble race that will be hard to predict Saturday, and doesn’t expect a bunch sprint finish.
“I think a lot of people see me as a rider who often waits for the finish because I’m quite fast, but I don’t think this is how you will win Roubaix in the end,” Brennauer said. “Of course, it would be best to arrive alone, or in a very very small breakaway group to be able to win this race.
“[I hope to] save as much energy as possible in this first part of the race, to then be able to be in an attack or launch an attack in the finale. This is where I see myself.”
Custom helmets for EF Education-Nippo
EF Education-Nippo will roll out custom helmets for the “Hell of the North” on Sunday.
The U.S.-registered team will deploy a helmet designed to honor front-line workers of the COVID-19 crisis, “that pay tribute to the selfless work done by individuals. The unique design features the names of key workers nominated by riders and staff from our team,” a press release stated.
In a joint effort between POC and Muc-Off, the helmets were first used at the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race this season.
The team is giving away three helmets in a drawing to fans who share their hero stories via the Muc-Off website or on the Muc-Off and EF Education-Nippo social channels.
Annemiek van Vleuten, Emma Norsgaarrd, Matteo Jorgenson to Paris-Roubaix start
Dutch phenom Annemiek van Vleuten is a favorite for the first-ever Paris-Roubaix Femmes. The Tokyo Olympics double-medalist who also won the Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders earlier this season will be joined by Emma Norsgaard, Aude Biannic, Sheyla Gutiérrez, Leah Thomas, and Barbara Guarischi.
On the men’s side, “The Blues” are bringing Iván Garcia Cortina, Imanol Erviti, Mathias Norsgaard, Juri Hollmann, Matteo Jorgenson, Lluís Mas, and Gabriel Cullaigh.
Noting the last edition of the men’s “Hell of the North” was in the spring of 2019, and the women are taking on the fabled cobbles for the first time ever, excitement and hopes are high for the respective teams.
Megan Jastrab, Lorena Wiebes, Søren Kragh Andersen, Cees Bol highlight Team DSM Paris-Roubaix lineups
The German-registered Team DSM is bringing stacked squads to Paris-Roubaix this weekend. The women are racing the iconic event for the first time and the squad has been preparing for different scenarios.
The six women wearing the black and blue are Megan Jastrab, Lorena Wiebes, Susanne Andersen, Pfeiffer Georgi, Franziska Koch, and Floortje Mackaij.
“Paris-Roubaix is of course a new race on the women’s calendar, and one that we’re all looking forward to. With it being a new event, it’s hard to predict exactly how the race will go but with the team we have I think we’re prepared and ready for most scenarios,” said coach Albert Timmer. “With Floortje and Pfeiffer we have two riders who are capable of going far in a race like this; while Franziska, Susanne, Lorena, and Megan are all strong too and will be able to support the team deep into the race.”
Taking to the start on Sunday in the men’s race are Søren Kragh Andersen, Nikias Arndt, Cees Bol, Nils Eekhoff, Max Kanter, Casper Pedersen, and Jasha Sütterlin. Men’s coach Marc Reef said since this edition comes at the end of the season and after the world championships, there are some known quantities and marked riders.
“It will be an even more unique edition because it is so late in the season and situated one week after the World championships. Due to that we also know who we can expect to be in the final of the race and who to keep an eye on,” said Reef. “We have a really strong team across the board, and we don’t have a specific finisher for the race; we want to be able to play multiple cards.”
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak likes her chances
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) likes her chances in the inaugural edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes. The former world champion is known for her deft bike-handling skills and big motor, two things that will put her on the front row of favorites Saturday.
“I can never predict a race, it’s a feeling, and I hope I can have the right instinct again in Roubaix. I normally race the best when everyone is just empty,” she said Tuesday. “Let’s start with a hard race, that always makes me happy.”
Also read: Route confirmed for Paris-Roubaix Femmes
SD Worx, already loaded with top talent, will be expected to try to dominate the race. She said while the sectors are similar to the men’s race, both races will be very different.
“It makes no sense to copy the men’s race,” she said. “We’ve seen it’s a race where anything can happen. You can win from the early breakaway. You can be in the best position and have a flat or crash. You can be dropped and return for the win. I’m gonna do everything and hopefully I’ll have good legs and a bit of luck.
“You can’t compare the cobbles in Roubaix with any other race,” she said. “I always take the example of Flanders, and in the Ronde, if you’re empty, you can always try to find a way out, but in Roubaix, it’s impossible. It’s flat and there is not much rest in between the sectors. And the cobbles are really hard, very bumpy. So when you’re empty, you really lose a lot of speed.”
Lotto-Soudal brings Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb
Defending champion Philippe Gilbert and 2015 winner John Degenkolb are part of Lotto-Soudal’s roster for Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.
Gilbert won in 2019, and after nearly two years of delays, the race is expected to be held Sunday, with forecasters calling for a chance of showers and gusting winds.
Degenkolb crashed heavily in the men’s worlds road race, but it appears he will be cleared to race Sunday.
Provisional Lotto Soudal roster for Paris-Roubaix:
John Degenkolb, Frederik Frison, Philippe Gilbert, Sébastien Grignard, Harry Sweeny, Tosh Van der Sande and Florian Vermeersch.
Greg Van Avermaet headlines Ag2r-Citroën
The 2017 winner will headline Ag2r-Citroën at the race, team officials confirmed Monday.
“After a few difficult weeks, I was happy to regain some good sensations during the last stage of the Benelux Tour, racing on roads that I know by heart,” Van Avermaet said. “My recent form was not good enough for me to be selected for the world championships in Belgium. I have been part of the national team since 2007 and it was a bit difficult for me to miss this edition.”
Also riding for the French team will be Oliver and Lawrence Naesen, Michael Schär, Gijs Van Hoecke, Stan Dewulf, and Damien Touzé.
“Despite everything, I will be happy to see Roubaix again after 18 months of waiting,” Van Avermaet said. “I would have preferred to race it in the spring, especially since my form was good which my third place at Ronde Van Vlaanderen proved, but that’s how it goes.
“Paris-Roubaix, even in October, remains a very important moment of the season,” he said. “I really want to perform well through the end of the season and resume training for 2022 with high ambitions.”