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Guillaume Boivin hoping to build on Paris-Roubaix breakthrough: ‘The legs will talk’

Israel-Premier Tech rider finished off 2021 in a flourish, winning the national title and posting Canada's best Paris-Roubaix finish in a generation.

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It might not have been so easy to spot the Canadian maple leaf jersey of Guillaume Boivin in the mud and grime of last year’s Paris-Roubaix.

But the Israel-Premier Tech rider was right in the thick of things, quite literally, in the first wet Roubaix in 20 years, following the late moves and punching into the top-10 with a career best ninth in the “Hell of the North.”

The Quebec rider is hoping to build on that breakout ride as he powers into the “opening weekend” in Belgium with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

“It was huge,” Boivin told VeloNews of the Roubaix ride. “We could see that I was building form really good through worlds. It was fun to finally show that I am capable of being there in the final in a big race like that, so hopefully I can build on that going into this spring.”

Also read: Sep Vanmarcke looking past ‘opening weekend’ for bigger targets in classics

Boivin, who won the Canadian national road title in September, will have the unique chance to race again in the distinctive national jersey for a second time at Roubaix in April.

The 32-year-old should see more freedom and responsibility at Israel-Premier Tech, where Sep Vanmarcke will headline the classics campaign over the next few weeks.

“We’ll see how it goes. The legs will talk,” Boivin said. “We have Sep as our outright leader. I think I showed I have the engine to be there with him in some of the finals. You know how it is in the classics, the more guys you have, the better it is, especially when you have Quick-Step, and they always have numbers. I think I will have the chance to be in some finals with Sep hopefully.”

Building on momentum of breakout Roubaix

Boivin grimaces after hitting the velodrome in last year’s epic Roubaix. (Photo: Fred Mons – Pool/Getty Images)

Last year’s big season, which included a trip to the Olympic Games, winning the Canadian road title as well as hitting the top-20 at road worlds with 17th, only served as confirmation of Boivin’s steady progress in the WorldTour ranks.

Boivin has been one of the anchors at the Israeli franchise, joining the team in 2016 when it was at the continental level. Boivin provided experience and depth, and helped the team move up to the second-tier in 2017.

The arrival of co-owner Sylvan Adams accelerated everything, and the team vaulted to the WorldTour by 2020, and Boivin has been there every step of the way.

Also read: Michael Woods: ‘This is also Canada’s team’

He’s now part of a gang of Canadians — five of the six riding in the WorldTour are on Israel-Premier Tech — and he’s proud to show off the national colors.

His breakout rides in 2021 will give the team more cards to play in the classics, where Vanmarcke, Tom Van Asbroeck and others, including the likes of Simon Clarke and Jakob Fuglsang, who could be getting into the action in some of the cobblestone classics.

“I think we’re still the underdogs, but even last year, we could start believing,” Boivin said. “I think we showed what we could do in Roubaix last year, and we can bring some more confidence into the spring campaign this year.”

Boivin is keen to test his mettle in this weekend’s opening races. In 2018, he punched to seventh in Kuurne, giving another hint of his potential in the classics.

“For me, it’s always one of my favorite weekends of the year. Last year, we had Roubaix at the end of the season, so it hasn’t been as long since we’ve raced these races,” he said. “It’s a big weekend, and Kuurne is one of the first of the bigger races where I had some results when I was younger. That race has a special place in my heart, and the whole weekend, I am really looking forward to it.”

Boivin’s top-10 in Roubaix was the best by a Canadian in a generation. He’s hoping to keep the momentum carrying on into 2022, and move even higher across the cobbles.