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"I hope to be a protagonist of the race on Sunday after the last two editions where I was really unlucky. I love Paris-Roubaix as much as the Tour of Flanders. The Ronde assured me about my condition. If we exclude Cancellara and Sagan...

Photo: Sirotti










06.04.2013 @ 11:27 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

With defending champion Tom Boonen absent, it will be up to Sylvain Chavanel to save a disappointing cobbled classics campaign for Omega Pharma-Quick Step in tomorrow's Paris-Roubaix. The Frenchman is confident that he will be able to perform if he can avoid the streak of bad luck that has plagued him in the last two editions.


Few riders have had as much bad luck in the Paris-Roubaix as Sylvain Chavanel. Entering the race in blistering condition in both the 2011 and 2012 editions of the race, crashes and punctures forced him out of contention on both occasions.


This year he hopes to get his revenge and finally break into the top 10 for the second time in his career. His performance in the Tour of Flanders makes him confident ahead of Sunday's big race.


"I hope to be a protagonist of the race on Sunday after the last two editions where I was really unlucky," Chavanel said. "I love Paris-Roubaix as much as the Tour of Flanders. The Ronde assured me about my condition. If we exclude Cancellara and Sagan, I was there with the best of the peloton. Then, in the end, it was only a story of places in the sprint. I really hope to do something good on Sunday because I love this race."


Every pre-race discussion has centered around any possible tactics to beat the dominant Fabian Cancellara. With most riders knowing that they won't be able to keep up with the Swiss when he puts down the hammer, many plan to copy the tacticts of Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) who was ahead of the favourites' group when Cancellara attacked on the Kwaremont and took a podium place as a result.


With a strong and experienced team, the Belgian squad should be able to count on its strength in numbers.


"I think we will have a lot of riders who will try to anticipate Cancellara and the other favorites," Chavanel said. "We have a good team that has a habit for these races and we are ready to fight. But sometimes Paris-Roubaix is also a question of luck. A flat tire in a bad moment can compromise the entire race. The presence of Tom (Boonen, ed.) would have been important tactically, but now this is the situation and we will do our best to make a great race with a strong team."


Terpstra confident

Niki Terpstra will share captain duties with Chavanel tomorrow. The Dutch champion failed to live up to expectations in the Flemich classics but with Roubaix much more suited to his characteristics, he finds plenty of confidence in his performance in Hell last year.


"I'm pretty confident about this race," he said. "Last year I was 5th and proved I can do well at Roubaix. At training I tested myself a little and did well, but training and racing is different. When we get to the cobble sectors that are two and a half kilometers long, after that I really hurt. Now it wasn't so painful, but Sunday it will get really painful. After the parcours recon I am at least prepared for what it will feel like in a couple days."


The team will miss Boonen in tomorrow's race, but the Terpstra also relishes the opportunity to go for a personal result.


"Normally I'd be helping Tom, especially in the final, but now we have to do it ourselves," he said. "But this also gives a lot of opportunity for the whole team actually, because we are here with eight strong riders. If we can make a nice final, for sure there's an opportunity. The breakaway that contests the final, whether a favorite like Fabian Cancellara is there or not, is always the right one. If I have the legs I will try my best to do something."


Stybar looking forward to debut in Hell

Former world cyclo-cross champion Zdenek Stybar has finally managed to compete in the biggest classics after he chose to skip most of the cyclo-cross season to fully concentrate on his road career. With some impressive performances in the Flemish classics, he has shown his potential in the cobbled races, and he now faces his debut in the most famous of them.


He has prepared his race by checking out the most important sections and feels ready for the race.


"This morning it was still a bit strange," he said. "It was really the first time doing so many cobbled sections. You just need to get used to it I think. Even when you have been doing it for 10 years, it is still exciting the next year. It's still exciting for everyone. I think I rode well, with good position, and it gave me a good feeling for Sunday."


" "It was always my dream to do Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," he continued. "Now I am here and must make the best of it and really enjoy the race. I don't know how far I can get. It's difficult for me to say of course. I am someone who loves to win, but in a race like this I have to be patient and try to learn as much as possible."


As a former world cyclo-cross champion, he is used to riding on a rough surface. However, the Czech does not expect to benefit much from his background on Sunday.


"You can't truly compare it," he said. "Riding over the cobbles is somewhat like riding over a frozen field or something. I have some experience with that, but still it's not so much the same. I think what I can use from cyclo-cross is my handling of the bike. Going from left to right and sometimes you have to unexpectedly change direction or brake. You know, when the bike is sliding, I don't panic and I think that part is something I can really use to my advantage. But, I think what I need most is the power in my legs. I think at Tour of Flanders I had one of my best days on the bike and I hope to have the legs I had last week to get as far as possible."


Lefevre: It's okay as long as we win

Team director Patrick Lefevre knows that it will be difficult to dominate the race as the team did last year with Tom Boonen in blistering condition. The team lacks their biggest star and face a very strong Fabian Cancellara.


The team manager hopes to be able to use the team's collective strength to outwit their rivals and would like to see his riders step up in tomorrow's race.


"Everybody says it is difficult to win, but difficult is OK for me if we win," he said. "We are a team of specialists for these kinds of races. Tom is not here and for the team this is of course a handicap. But I think for the other riders, the roads are free now. So, I think all eight of them could do the final of Paris-Roubaix. I hope they will make something. I think all kinds of tactics are possible. If you can anticipate the group, and can go to the final without consuming too much energy, it's important for a chance in the final."


You can follow all the action tomorrow on Until then, you can prepare by reading our preview here.


Omega Pharma-Quick Step for Paris-Roubaix:

Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Iljo Keisse, Niki Terpstra, Nikolas Maes, Stijn Vandenbergh, Slvain Chavanel and Zdenek Stybar



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