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"We'll have to find some way of surprising the big names. If you wait until the moment when they start to attack, then you've already lost the race. They're just too strong, so you have to invent something," Paolini said.

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele






01.04.2014 @ 16:46 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Despite crashing out of Gent-Wavelgem last Sunday, Luca Paolini, encouraged by his promising performances in Milano-Sanremo and E3 Harelbeke, is eager to challenge the favorites in Ronde van Vlaanderen. The 37-year old Katusha rider, however, acknowledges that it will take more than just a good disposition to surprise the likes of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) on a hilly Flemish parcours.


Paolini intends to familiarize himself with Ronde van Vlaanderen route very closely during his reconnaissance ride planned for Friday, as the 37-year old Katusha rider is aware that it would be necessary to be exceptionally inventive in order to cause a surprise and upset the favorites. Thus, the Italian rider wants to choose an optimal moment to attack very carefully.


"After I've gone and had a look around the new course, I'll have two days to mull over where I should attack," Paolini told Cyclingnews in De Panne on Tuesday.


"That way, I'll have a film in my head beforehand of what I'd like to do, but on Sunday, I'll still have to see how the race is going. There are always unforeseen factors, and you just have to see how your legs are on Sunday morning as well."


The 37-year old veteran acknowledges that this year’s route, providing riders with greater challenges again after a hugely criticized previous edition, favors aggressive style of riding and he sees an early attack as the only opportunity to defeat Boonen and Cancellara.  


"This year, the parcours is a bit different again, so there might be a chance to get away in a little group," Paolini said. "We'll have to find some way of surprising the big names anyway. If you wait until the moment when they start to attack, then you've already lost the race. They're just too strong, so you have to invent something."


"It does seem like people wait until the last minute because they're afraid they won't have the energy in the finale," Paolini said of the new finale. "Maybe before there was a bigger scope for attacking earlier because there were more flat roads in the finale, so a good passista could make the difference by attacking from distance."


Despite suffering a crash in Gent-Wavelgem last Sunday, Paolini lined up in the Three Days of De Panne today as a final build-up event ahead of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Although he is still wearing a badge on his left knee, Paolini insists that consequences of the accident doesn’t affect his performances in three-day event.


"I fell but it could have been a lot worse, really," Paolini said. "With the good weather, a lot of riders are suffering a bit less than they were this time last year with the cold. That means that there are more riders pushing to be at the front, so it's inevitable that there've been more crashes this year."


Even though the Katusha rider blames exceptionally favorable weather conditions for a huge amount of crashes that marred cobbled races so far this season, a good weather was a main factor which encouraged him to use an out of fashion three-day event  as a build-up for Ronde van Vlaanderen.


"I like staying in Belgium because the atmosphere here is special and that helps me to stay concentrated on the two big objectives, Flanders and Roubaix," he said.


His high hopes regarding the coming Flemish classic were certainly boosted by his promising showing in the spring’s first monument – Milano-Sanremo, where the Italian prevailed in very unfavorable weather conditions to provide the future winner, Alexander Kristoff, with a perfectly timed lead-out 11 years after he did so for his close friend, Paolo Bettini.


"Well, the more emotional of the two was definitely with Bettini because we're very close friends," Paolini said. "But maybe this one is more important because it made me realise that I'm still a good athlete and that I can perhaps go on and do another year or two in the peloton. When you're in front at the finish of a classic like San Remo you realise that you still have quite a bit of strength left."




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