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MUSCAT, Oman (VN) — The champ is rolling out the welcome mat to Paris-Roubaix, but don’t expect him to go down without a fight.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) has said he plans to target Paris-Roubaix this season, and in a year in which the Tour de France visits the cobblestones of the Hell of the North, it’s a safe bet that other GC men will show up in Compiègne. Cancellara, three-time and defending champ, has a message for them: You’re welcome to the stones, and there’s plenty to go around.
“With Tour de France weight you won’t go nowhere probably, but it’s everyone’s choice,” Cancellara said. “When Alberto wants to join or Andy or Frank, or Froome, they’re all welcome to Roubaix. Roubaix is in one day … everyone is welcome.”
“I’d love to win it,” Wiggins told The Guardian. “Or to be part of that final, that final 40 or 50 kilometers, even if it’s doing a job for Geraint Thomas or whatever.”
The 2014 Tour will feature five sectors also used in Paris-Roubaix, making up some 15 kilometers of cobbles during stage 5. That likely means Roubaix will see a bundle of general classification riders suit up in an effort to simulate what may well be a race-making stage at the Tour.
On the Tour visiting the pave, Cancellara has a weary prediction. “I don’t sign a paper to say it, but … there will be a crash in the first section. It’s the circumstance,” he said.
The Tour last visited the pave in 2010, when Cancellara and Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) drove a significant wedge into the GC, with riders including Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong losing more than a minute.
“I did the Roubaix when we had it in the Tour de France the last time. When you see here, two kilometers you turn left, they’re already sprinting. It’s the problem in the Tour too, to come into the cobbles,” Cancellara said.
“Maybe Bradley is doing this to have a kind of feeling. Roubaix is really different. … how you sit on the bike, how you pedal, how you feel, it’s all certain things and what comes in once has to be set up well and maybe certain riders won’t be fit for this race. You said a few names, it’s good they try. They see something else.”
While on the subject of Roubaix, Cancellara was asked if he’s pressured to ride well there over the Tour of Flanders, which he’s won twice. The short answer: no.
“In the end, we are a performance team. Not a show-off team,” he said. “In the end of course comes winning.”
In fact, Trek may prefer Flanders, due to the beer.
“Our vice president loves Belgian beers, so that’s probably why I have more pressure … in Roubaix I gave him a beer and he broke it in the suitcase.”
That likely won’t be the only thing broken coming out of Roubaix this season, two times over.