Paris-Roubaix Team news
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"jamais un cloche ne gagne la Pascale"
Dario Pieri going for Paris-Roubaix
With the form to make his dream come true Dario Pieri will be the leader of Team Saeco for Paris-Roubaix the most difficult but most fascinating race of the World Cup held on Sunday April 13.
The Tuscan rider and his team mates carried out a long inspection of the French course, covering 80km from Haussy (the 121km point of the race) until Orchies (201km), covering13 sections of pave including the very difficult Forest of Arenberg section.
"I think this is the most fascinating race in the world," Pieri said. "It’s a dream of mine to win it. I’m sure I can do well: I’m in form, perhaps the best I’ve ever had as a professional."
Although many people thought he tried too hard to win with a solo move last week at the Tour of Flanders, Pieri’s attack confirmed that he has the necessary talent for the ‘tough’ roads of northern Europe.
Pieri is not concerned about the criticism he received for his long lone attack at the Tour of Flanders: "I’ve no regrets, in fact it made me I realise I do a ride at Paris-Roubaix," he said.
Saeco team manager Claudio Corti agreed: "Flanders isn’t the best race for Pieri but he’s perfect for Paris-Roubaix."
Directuer sportif Guido Bontempi will field a strong and experienced team alongside Pieri, with riders especially suited to the French pave. The team includes Italian champion Salvatore Commesso. He suffered a double puncture in the key moment of the Tour of Flanders and yet still managed to finish thirteenth. Stefano Zanini also rode well at Flanders and will also be in the team.
There to help their team captain will be the experienced and fundamental Paolo Fornaciari, Christian Pepoli, Giosuè Bonomi, German Jorg Ludewig and Nicola Gavazzi.
Hoffman and Tafi
Sean Yates, manager of the Danish CSC team, believes he has the men for the 261km ride.
Yates is counting on his Dutch rider Tristan Hoffman leading Italian Andrea Tafi, the 1999 winner, to a second victory.
"Hoffman is capable of going the distance with Tafi," Yates said. "Remember, he has already finished fourth in 2000 and 2002."
When the 101st edition of the Paris-Roubaix starts in Compiégne, a little north of the city of cities, on Sunday, Team CSC’s Andrea Tafi will be ready to defend both his own as well as the team’s honour. So far, the classics season has not had much to offer for the team, and Tafi is well aware of his responsibilities.
”I have yet to make a result but that has a lot to do with illness and injuries. I am aware that my result in the Tour of Flanders was not too impressive, but that does not prevent me from being optimistic when it comes to my chances in the Paris-Roubaix. Those two races are very different from each other and the Paris-Roubaix suits my current form level much better. I will definitely be ready for the challenge”, says Tafi who has been training hard after the Tour of Flanders in order to be ready for the “Hell of the North” as the race has aptly been named.
“I have lots of experience with this race and the event means a lot to me – both personally and as a rider”, says the former winner who will be backed by a team that includes both Tristan Hoffman and Thomas Bruun Eriksen – both of which have the necessary class to be part of the action well into the finale. Last year, Hoffman finished 4th and young Thomas Bruun Eriksen made a small breakthrough when he was able to stay with the front group for more than 170 km. The experienced Lars Michaelsen will be sorely missed, as he usually is able to be part of the race finale. Last year, he was able to take the 5th place despite having had multiple crashes along the way – a sign of his class and a testimony to the rough conditions that are a natural part of the race that riders either hate or love.
For Tafi, the issue is not whether he will complete the race. For him, there is only one valid strategy that can ensure a new triumph on the cobblestones and that is: attack! (CSC Website)
Australia's Stuart O'Grady, third in the Tour des Flandres, believes he is stronger after a leg operation last year. Surgery to clear a blocked artery in his leg disrupted his season last year, but O'Grady believes the operation has made a huge difference.
"In the past, if I had put in the effort I did on Sunday my leg would have just stopped," he said.
"But now the artery is free and basically I get to race with two legs."
He says a new training regime has toughened him up.
"Age, experience, a new training regime, it's all added up," O'Grady said. "I'm doing a lot of stuff I couldn't do before."
And he plans to hit the front as soon as possible on Sunday.
"I'm just going to do what I did last weekend, which is stay up the front and out of the carnage and give it absolutely everything."
“I have been thinking about Paris–Roubaix all winter. Each time I have the same emotions, it sends a shiver up your spine, which get stronger as soon as I ride the pave sections. These are particular feelings that I do not find elsewhere, including the Belgian Classics. I have been working now for a year and half to find my best form after my health problems (fracture of the right femur, sustained in the 2001 race. During winter I have been training hard. Paris–Nice was a first bench mark to see whether I had recovered my strength. I think I have returned to my form of 2001.
“When I went to see the course at the beginning of March, I did relive my fall. I fell in d’Arenberg where the riders are going fastest and where the paving stones are in a bad condition. This year, there will be falls. For my part, I will cross the trench a little less quickly than in previous years but hope to stay placed. But that is the problem; it is not in d’Arenberg that you win Paris–Roubaix. On the other hand, it is there that one can lose the race.
Peter van Petegem
Belgian Peter van Petegem, winner of the Tour des Flandres last week, aims to become only the seventh man to follow up a victory in that race with a win on the Paris-Roubaix cobblestones. De Vlaeminck was the last man to win both races in the same year in 1977.
" I have already finished 2nd on the vélodrome (in 2000) and that proves that I can go well over this type of course. I am highly motivated, and I want to profit from my good form.”