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“That’s what I think it comes down to in the classics. You have to want to be there and you have to put yourself on the line. If he’s willing to do that, then with his physique he can do what he wants.”

Photo: Sirotti












12.04.2014 @ 16:52 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Bradley Wiggins lines up to start the Paris-Roubaix tomorrow, making him the first Tour de France winner to do so since Greg LeMond in 1992. In 1981, Bernard Hinault became the last Grand Tour winner to take Paris-Roubaix and in the last 50 years, only Jan Janssen, Felice Gimondi and Eddy Merckx have won both the a major stage race and the Hell of the North. No pressure then Sir Bradley!


When Wiggins announced that he wanted a crack at the race, there was a definite split between the peloton, with those who believed he could win and those who believe he cant. Current champion Fabian Cancellara even went as far as to slightly mock Wiggins during a press conference. 


Ex-teammate Mat Hayman, a veteran of the race on the Orica-Greenedge squad gave his views.


“It’s not as foreign to him as everyone thinks. There were years when he was riding the classics,” said Hayman, who raced alongside Wiggins in his last attempt in 2011. “I’ve seen a few things. He’s a phenomenal athlete and he can do remarkable things on the bike. He’s not foreign to that race.”


Taylor Phinney, a time trialist like Wiggins, has won the U23 Roubaix twice and is a strong candidate for his maiden top 10 performance this year things Wiggins could do well but it depends on a lot of factors.


“It’s definitely not automatic but when you’ve got someone who’s an individual pursuit specialist, someone who’s really good at five-minute efforts, that’s where Roubaix is great,” Phinney said last week. “Individual pursuit is all about power and holding it for a certain period of time and that’s what riding over the cobbles is.


“It’s not an entire day of time trialling but an entire day of those steady efforts. I think Roubaix is quite suited to a guy like Brad and that’s why I think he’s going to have a good ride next weekend.”


One man who is a doubter is Filippo Pozzato. He finished second in 2009. He thinks Wiggnins could do well but doubts whether he has the mentality for the Hell of the North.


“Wiggins is very, very strong in terms of numbers but at Roubaix, with that style of racing he has, I don’t think he can do anything,” Pozzato told Cyclingnews. “I’ve seen Wiggins riding and he’s a bit like me: he’s always at the back of the peloton with a gap of ten metres in front of him. I have the same problem in these races, and if you’re always at the back when you get to the pavé, you have to make twice the effort just to get up to the front again.”


Wiggins almost seems to agree with that. After last week’s Tour of Flanders he said “I’d be lethal if I could ride positions”. If Wiggins is not in the top 40 riders in the Arenberg stretch of Cobbles, he can kiss his dreams of winning goodbye according to Pozzato.


“If you don’t hit the Arenberg Forest in the first 40 riders, then your race is over there and then,” Pozzato warned. “I don’t know, maybe he’ll turn up so strong that he can hit the Forest out in front, in which case I’d say he could do something. His actual pedalling style could be suited to the pavé, but it’s his overall way of riding that’s the problem – it doesn’t suit this kind of race. And like I said, my style of riding doesn’t suit these races either…”


The public doubted his credentials after he dropped Dwars door Vlaanderen for the Volta a Catalunya and then didn’t turn up their either but rode a mountainous training camp instead. But his performance inFlanders has swayed many people’s opinions as Roubaix is even more suited to him than Flanders and he was only 32nd in Flanders. As L’Equipe put it, “he wasn’t fighting for the win but his performance wasn’t ridiculous either”.


Wiggins has stated that he wants to just be in the final with men like Cancellara, Vanmarcke and Boonen rather than targeting the win. But according to Hayman the key thing is that Wiggins wants to be on the startline.


“That’s what I think it comes down to in the classics. You have to want to be there and you have to put yourself on the line. If he’s willing to do that, then with his physique he can do what he wants.”




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