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DOHA, Qatar (VN) — Sir Bradley Wiggins (Sky) has won the Tour de France and Olympic gold medals, but said winning his last big road race, Paris-Roubaix on April 12, could be as hard as moonwalking.
“I’d love to win Roubaix, and a lot of people are saying it’s a fairy tale ending, but it’s so unpredictable,” the Englishman explained.
“I’d love to moonwalk as well, but sometimes you have to accept you can’t do certain things in life, and I may never win Roubaix. It won’t be for the lack of trying, same as if I took lessons to try to moonwalk, which I’ll never do to the extent of Michael Jackson.”
After a track cycling career that saw him win three Olympic gold medals, and a road career that culminated with a victory at the 2012 Tour de France, the 34-year-old Wiggins switched gears to aim for Paris-Roubaix. Last year, he survived the cobbles covering northern France’s farm roads and placed ninth in Roubaix’s velodrome. Sky teammate Geraint Thomas took seventh.
This year, “The Queen of the Classics” will mark the end of Wiggins’ road career with Sky. Afterwards, he will attempt the hour record in June and then work toward racing on the track at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Wiggins, who began his season in the Tour of Qatar this week, said racing Roubaix is “massively” different than anything he has ever done.
“It’s so unpredictable, Roubaix. You’ve got 200 guys that think they are Marc Madiot when they start the race and then you get to the end, there’s a handful of people. So it’s getting through all the mess and carnage to get to a position where you can use your physical form,” Wiggins said.
“With a time trial, you can predict what you are going to do on the day, every second counts, but in Paris-Roubaix, you can be minutes down, come back into the race, crash five times and all sorts. And that’s part of the magic of the race.”
Wiggins has missed splits and ridden at the back of the group at times in the flat and often windy Persian Gulf nation this week. However, he is as serious as his beard for Roubaix. He placed third in the time trial stage Wednesday, and Friday morning he was first out of the hotel riding to the stage start with teammate Ian Stannard to put extra miles in his legs.
“This race is really important for Brad in the lead-up. He didn’t race a lot last year on the Flemish roads where there’s fighting all day. That’s what he’s getting used to here,” Sky sport director Servais Knaven said.
“He missed the splits here, but we will all be on a different level for Roubaix. It won’t be an issue. In 2011 here, he was in the front groups. He can do it and he will be ready for that in March and April.”
After Qatar, Wiggins will race Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Paris-Nice, E3 Harelbeke, the Three Days of De Panne, the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), and Scheldeprijs.
“And they are all very different races, Paris-Roubaix is so different than the others,” Wiggins continued. “It’s not about just me preparing for Roubaix, ’cause there are guys like Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe, and Geraint Thomas who have goals in other races, it’s about being a part of that group and doing a good job for those guys so that when it comes my turn, they will repay it.”