Paris Roubaix 2015 Cycling Preview
Just a week removed from the excitement of Flanders we move onto Paris Roubaix a 253.5km test across the cobbles and roads of Northern France. The Flanders route does not do loops so it heads North for most of the route with a bit of westerly part at over the halfway mark, In all Paris Roubaix has 27 cobble sectors (secteurs paves) ranging from the short to the long (300m too 3.7km). The sectors are not all actual and some a much easier than others with the carrefour de l’arbe after 236km known as one of the most decisive 2km of the race. Its one of those races I can truly watch almost from the off. The dust on sunny days and the mud on the wet days. The cobbles create trouble it creates the race, there is no safe place only less dangerous places. Flats can happen at any time and the support of your team is key. Least we forget the luck of 2013, Stybar in with the two leaders nearly fell off his bike clipped by a fan. The winner of Paris Roubaix not only needs to be the strongest but also have that little bit of luck shining down on them
The race will dry this year and quiet warm for the time of year in line with the pretty warm week it has been. So it is going be very dusty and punctures will be an issues, but it makes for fantastic viewing for the fans, the rider will burn more calories and need more drinks as a result so team support becomes very important to the main contenders. Ideally a fancied riders will want to have a team mate with him till at least the though sections ardound carrefour de l’arbe from there it gets very select. The key to remember is a good showing in Flanders the week before does not mean Paris Roubaix is going to suit just as much.
IAM Cycling – led for sure by Haussler but also have the talents of Chavanel to call on. Firstly lets talk about Elmiger he was a surprising 10th in Flanders. He had shown glimpses that he could be due a big year but it didn’t seem Flanders would be the place to show it for the Swiss Champ. Haussler was 6th back in 2009 but since then from 4 attempts he broke the top 30 once with an 11th. He has certainly looked a better rider than last season so its not out of the question he can stay involved a bit longer this season. Chavanel didn’t race here last season. His best was a 7th in 2009 and while not bettering it since he hasn’t been too far off. (19th in 2013). With the glimpses Chavanel has shown he could have one last big performance in his legs for Paris Roubaix
Lotto Soudal – They had a strong Flanders with plenty of riders on show for the tv audience. Again Roelandts will be a key men but this team always plays all its cards. Firstly we have the new kid on the block Benoot, he was allowed by Roelandts to hit his sprint early in Flanders and took a 5th place a result, pretty amazing on debut but his one day results had been just as strong in the build up. He was 15th last year in the espoirs version but it is a big ask to cope with the difference this week and Roubaix unlike Flanders does not really have races to build you up for the coming weeks. Roelandts obviously prefers Flanders as he has only raced here twice in the last four years. He was a best of 14th in 2011. He is well able for it but does seem better suited to Flanders. Lars Bak had a strong result in De Panne and was in the break in Flanders, again I expect we might see him at some point. He was a 5th in 2011 but last year he was well down the field but I expect he might get himself involved. Debuscchere is having a strong year and last yr was his first attempt in four that he completed, he was 2nd in the Espoirs back in 2010 but the step is huge to doing it at this level. Greipel was impressive with 15th in Flanders and that included a number of daring darts off the front, in theory the flatness of Roubaix should be much more up his street in a year he seems to be reinventing himself. 21st was his best in 2011 in his 3 attempts I would be impressed if he matched his Flanders result.
Ag2r – A past champion Vansummeren leads the lineup, its 4 years since the belge won alone in the velodrome despite the hindrance of a slow puncture. Its been a very lean season for him so far. His only noticeable result since the start of 2014 was a 10th in KBK. Gaudin is another who has not really had any good days this season to contest even the chance of a win. He has been in the top 30 4 times of the 6 times he raced and was 5th in 2013 but he did have a minor win that year if a little inconsistent in between. Turgot is another Gaudin type inconsisent and in 2015 he has been poor for the most par, 2nd in 2012 means he still comes into mind when Roubaix comes round. Hes been 10th and 14th since so maybe he will deliver again.
Tinkoff Saxo – No doubts they will be focused around Sagan but he was left isolated last time can that change. He has said before he prefers Flanders but on his 3rd start last year he managed a 6th and he is a supreme bike handler as shown countless times. Hes in decent shape this year and he was the only one able to go with Van Avermaet last week even if he did die in the home straight. Trusov has had decent record in Roubaix to say he could provide late support. I would be disappointed if Breschel isn’t with him late on, he has best of 9th in 2009 and 4 top 20s but he has raced just once in the past 4 years. Bodnar was 42nd last year he has the potential to be a key domestic.
Katusha – Well its been quiet a week for the team but mostly for Kristoff who has been superb but the team has a whole has barely been off the podium this season. Kristoff was clear to state that he felt Flanders was more suited to him and he may struggle to double up in Roubaix. I would tend to agree in 5 Roubaixs he finished just the twice but he did have a 9th in 2013 and here he is in the form of his life, but the cobbles of Roubaix present a very unique test. Paolini is his right man and his past 3 years have been decent in this race with a best of 11th he will be the likely 2nd man for Katusha for this race.
Topsport Vlaanderen – This team may limit there racing to the Benelux regions for most part but they more than coped over the spring to get invovled. Wallays and Theuns are both winners this year but both said they found the distance of World Tour racing a real eye opener. Its a 2nd Paris Roubaix for both with likely improvement its still a big ask to see them getting a top 20 here.
Europcar – Engoulvent has nearly broken the top20 (21st in 2012) in this race over a long career but Europcar look a weakened team this year with all there budget concerns. The other rider to maybe watch is Martinez who was a 24th last year on debut whether hes in good form to improve makes me doubt we see Europcar anywhere near the front
Cofidis – Could Lemoine break the top 50 for once he is a determined rider not quiet matched by the talent to deliver. Petit has done well enough in the past with three top 30s in a row can he come and deliver again in a mix 2015 so far. Senechal has shown glimpses this year and this will be his 2nd year, he was 9th when an espoirs so he could have a top 30 in him. Van Staeyen has not ridden a Roubaix before but his results stand out in this team so he could surprise.
Trek Factory Racing – With Cancellara out the Trek team is playing its back up cards. Devolder is not so at home at Roubaix his tendency for crashing and not so good bike handling a down fall of his he was 7th but way back in 2008 and he never came close to repeating that result. Rast wasn’t too bad in Flanders, 4th in 2011 he also did well in 2012. Less impressive past two years but he has shown a little bit of form this season to suggest he could have a good race. Roulston was a 10th in 2010 but doubt he can be stronger than Rast here. Stuyven interests me so much he was a 2nd in his two years of Espoirs. He debutted last year and finished. A decent showing in Flanders has him on my radar, and if he can get back to his Qatar form hes lively outsider to impress. Van Poppel has had a decent year wondering how he can cope with this unique test.
Team Sky – Wiggins has made it clear this is his chance to lead and his last race will be Paris Roubaix. He was 9th last year and has shown distinct liking for the flat cobbled roads. He can only come on for that and he surely has built up perfectly for this week but he will need to make a special move to come away a winner here. Thomas has been the supreme all rounder in cycling this year and managed a top 10 last year. Wiggins might be so selfish to ask him to support him rather than work as a team. Eisel has certainly seen his powers wain over years but he is one of the greatest captains on cobbles, 12 Roubaix starts, best of 5th in 2006 and 5 top 20s, and has always completed now thats something else. Is Stannard back to full health yet, at the end of last year I would have said he was maybe skys best fit for this race but he has yet to really fit in to this test.
Astana – Lars Boom leads the turmoil Astana team who are still hanging onto there licence for now. Boom had a brilliant 6th in Flanders, a race he doesnt really suit all that well. Move to Roubaix and we know he can thrive he had some mishaps but he has managed 6th before, his 37th last year is well beneath him. I think he could find his range this Sunday. Bozic should provide early support to him. De Vreese was 33rd on debut last year and he is a good rider that Boom can rely on.
BMC Racing – Led by the superb Greg Van Avermaet BMC again will have hopes to do well. GVA was 3rd last week but looked superb and a little more brains from BMC might have meant he turned out the winner. Despite the cloud hanging over him Van Avermaet has thrived this season. 4th in 2013 Greg has been pretty good each year in Roubaix and finished each time. Oss has also been superb this year for BMC and he has had lots of camera time at the front attacking or working for GVA. Roubaix has not been his cup of tea but he can still provide important help. Quinziato has maybe tailed off from his best now but he is a senior leader for this team and was 8th in 2009 as well. Drucker on the other hand is hugely on way up, 20th last season he would be likely the best 2nd option for BMC. Kung is thriving and I think he has massive upside and at 21 is thriving already. He has ridden the Espoirs so can come here with the chance to learn.
Etixx Quickstep – Without Bonnen there is still a huge range of options for the Etixx team. Last years winner is back Terpstra but we also have Stybar. Terpstra has had an amazing three years in this race with 5th and 3rd before he nailed it last year. he could not defeat Kristoff last week but Roubaix is his true calling. Stybar looks great this year and had a little bad luck in Flanders, Roubaix is a test suited to his skills. 6th in 2013 when clipping a fan he was 5th last year he will be right up there again. The big man Vandenbergh will provide the usual help till very late on proving an invaluable tool to the team. Lampaert has just his 2nd Roubaix but could help his team till very late on.
FDJ – They might do alright on the cobbles of Roubaix than they did in Flanders. Demare had a 23rd in Flanders but Roubaix should suit better. 12th last year and the tri coloured French man can try improve on that. Ladagnous has had a mixed bag with this race but did manage a 12th in 2012 and Demare will want him around for as long as possible.
Orica Greenedge – Hayman would seem leader as he has vast experience of this race. This will be his 14th start. He is a hardened rider and has completed every single time if outside the time limit the once. Twice in top 10 he has since had less impressive efforts. At 36 he might not have it in him. Docker is also a rugged rider and he has a previous top 20 in this race. It has been quiet for him this year so far so interesting if he did come to life. Keukeleire is an interesting option he was 25th last year he looked good in e3 this year and could be the teams best rider.
Lampre Merida – No doubting the best chance looks to be the revived Pozzatto who has surely earned himself another few years at the top level. He got involved in Flanders but he can also do it at Roubaix. He was a 2nd in 2009 then 7th year after. He doesn’t do the wet Paris Roubaix but dry and hot will suit him. No one in team has shown that well here before but they are stepping up and one of them may surprise us.
Team Cannondale Garmin – Langeveld has had a few recent tumbles but no doubt he is a talented rider, Garmin has sent a very different looking squad from the past years. Langeveld will be a serious threat if he can stay upright and is looking for a 3rd top 10 in a row and Garmin will be fully behind him. Koren can handle the cobbles and offer him some support. Van Baarle has his 2nd start and I think he is one to watch.
Team Giant Alpecin – Led by the Milan San Remo winner they will ride for Degenkolb. 7th in Flanders Degenkolb just didnt make the right move but Roubaix is far more suited to him and he has been 2nd last season, a sprint in the Veldrome would play to his strengths. De Backer could be his best help an 11th last season but he has had a quiet year.
LottoNL Jumbo – Looking to overcome Van Marckes let down in Flanders he again is the leader for this team. Van Marcke surely won’t be that off the pace again but he has seemed to lack a little of his top end speed this season when just outside the top 3. 2nd in 2013 he was a 4th last year and his powerful style is truly suited to this test. Tjallingii has been a 3rd in his prime and he likely provides the late support to Sep.
MTN Qhubeka – Farrar leads the team but they will be keeping the options open. Farrar never managed to break the top 20 here even when he was in his prime years. But options do look thin for this test so maybe someone will come out from the woods. Van Rensburg would be my guess at springing a good result for MTN.
Bretagne Seche – A French team so given there chance and they have certainly grown and have a little more depth to the squad now. Hutarovich managed a 22nd way back on his first start but never bettered it he rightly leads the team as most riders have not got most experience in this.
Wanty Groupe Gobert – The Belgium squad always get involved and can Leukemans avoid back luck he had in Flanders with a mistimed mechanical. He is a hugely talented rider 6 starts he has had five top 20s, a best of 4th on debut in 2007 was so impressive and maybe some will say he never quiet delivered on huge potential. Marcato has not raced here often but did grab 20th in 2012 and looked strong in Flanders after a mixed season.
Movistar – All the air of men thrown in at the deep end with some of the Spanish teams in these races. They have no stand out rider for this and I don’t think we see them near the top 20 Erviti might stay on for a top 40 but a day out for the team really.
Bora Argon 18 – A team that is also stepping up and getting new invites but that leaves them lacking Paris Roubaix experience. Dempster will be ridding for the 3rd time so maybe he is the best chance for the team to get itself involved.
Unitedhealthcare – A surprise invite in my view especially without a clear option for this type of race. Forster is the man with the most European racing experience but its not been a race for him so I would only be guessing at there best finisher.
Paris Roubaix Outrights:
Its Boom time to shine I love his Flanders ride and he thrives on the flatter cobbles of Roubaix. Demare I think is a big enough price to risk he is lining up well for a go at this. Langeveld has loved Roubaix yes he will need a slice of good luck to get into a winning spot but at 200/1 I will take my chance. I love Stybar but Degenkolb has the better sprint and is a decent price that I will play him as a saver.
Drucker and Leukemans are 200/1 but much bigger with Betfair and I will have small bets on them at those sort of insane odds for guys I wouldnt stick my nose up at.
.7pts Lars Boom 16/1 betvictor, paddy power
.4pts Greg Van Avermaet 16/1 ladbrokes
.2pt Arnaud Demare 40/1 betvictor
.1pts Sebastian Langeveld 200/1 paddys
.3pts John Degenkolb 9/1 ladbrokes
3pts Eisel to beat Rowe 1.83 pinnacle
3pts Langeveld to beat Chavanel 11/10 paddys
3pts Leukemans to beat Devolder 1.68 pinnacle
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