Can Cancellara win next week at Paris-Roubaix

Spartacus across the line

[Watching the race on Sunday? Check out our dedicated post – ‘Painfully Beautiful. Paris-Roubaix: A Journey through Hell‘]

After 6 1/4 hours, Spartacus confirmed what we already knew – that he is one of the greatest Classics riders of this generation. Fabian produced a commanding display at 98th Tour of Flanders, winning a tense sprint to the line against 3 other Belgian riders (gripping stuff, they almost came to a standstill to judge when to break).

Tour of Flanders resultAnd with the press swamping around their hero, you can guess the question coming next – Can he win Paris-Roubaix next week?

These two weekends were built up as a head-to-head between Boonen (Omega Pharma -QuickStep) and Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) – not to mention the prince in waiting Peter Sagan – as they were both bidding for an unprecedented third career Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double this season. A tantalising clash and with all the other strong riders in the peloton it certainly made an epic race today.

So what can we expect next week? Cancellara is the reigning champion and has 2 wins and 1 x 2nd place from his last three attempts at ‘Hell’. In 2010, the rider attacked with 50km to the finish and absolutely smashed the opposition. Even when Garmin tactically marked Fabian with Thor Hushovd in 2011, and left Johan Vansummeren to make a break, the Swiss rider got within 20 seconds of the eventual winner. As we saw last week at E3, Cancellara has stamina in the bucket loads – he has steamrolled the classics for the last few years but the Hour Record preparation has only seemed to have hardened him. As we have seen from Wiggins bulking up of almost 4 kilos, the 257km ‘flat’ race next weekend has lead to team like Sky selecting riders who specializes in the TT. The cobble sections will break up any chance of a bunch sprint and if Cancellara can stay in touch with any breaks – his strong teammate Greg VanAvermaet will make sure of that -, possibly dropping the lightning fast Sagan along the way, I would expect him to challenge for the last 300metres in much the same way as he did minutes ago. Last years, gritty win over the determined Sep Vanmarcke (as they entered the Velodrome alongside each other) only demonstrates that he can follow up a hard win in the Tour of Flanders (phenomenal solo win here in 2013) with a resounding performance in Paris-Roubaix.

The rider is a machine, don’t bet against him. And remember a win would secure his place in the record books, equaling the record of 4 wins held by Roger de Vlaeminck and Tom Boonen.

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