Paris-Roubaix Preview and Prediction
On Sunday, Fabian Cancellara (Trek) will have a chance to make history.
On Sunday, Fabian Cancellara (Trek) will have a chance to make history. He can become the first man to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year three times. Aside from the competition, 257 km, about a fifth of them cobbled, will stand between the man called Spartacus and a unique accomplishment. Cancellara, however, will not be the only man with a chance to rewrite the record books this weekend. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) will have an opportunity to win the Hell of the North for a record-setting fourth time. What will these two men face in Paris-Roubaix 2014?
As always, the cyclists will start the race in Compiegne. They will head northeast over terrain that will be rolling but generally flat. They will reach the first section of cobbles, Section 28, in Troisvilles, at 97.5 km. That section will be a 3. (The cobbled sections are number from 1 to 5, with 1 being the easiest and 5 being the hardest.) The peloton will go over Section 27, which is also a 3, at 104 km before tackling the first hard section, a 4 at 106.5 km. The next six sectors will be twos and threes. After those, the riders will reach the heart of the race.
At 153 km, the bunch will take on Sector 19 at Haveluy, a 4. After that, the riders will enter the Arenberg Forest, whose cobbles are one of two 5s on the parcours. The forest will not decide who will win, but it will decide who will not. Every year, the Arenberg breaks bicycles, hopes, and bones, and this year will be no exception.
After the Arenberg, the riders will take on a series of sectors of medium to high difficulty. Sectors 17 to 11 are all 3s and 4s, with another 5 being Sector 10, Mons-en-Pevele. After Sector 10, the going will be relatively easy for a short time, with Sectors 9, 8, and 7 being a 2, a 3, and a 2, respectively. They precede Campele-en-Pevele, a 4, and Le Carrefour de l’Arbre, a 5. These will be the last hard sectors of the race with Sectors 3 and 2 being 2s and a 300-m stretch in Roubaix being merely a symbol of a Sunday in Hell. The winner will then enter the velodrome in Roubaix, or the lead group will enter the velodrome to wage one last battle.
Who will win? On form, experience, and morale, the odds-on favorite seems to be Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing). The Swiss rider is coming off of victory in the Tour of Flanders in which he depended not on physical superiority, as he had in the past, but on experience to compensate for a lack of teammates. Cancellara is calculating and capable of changing plans on the fly, as he demonstrated on Sunday. These qualities will carry him to victory this weekend.
Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin-Linksys) has form, a strong team to support him, and confidence. On Sunday, he is said to have said to Cancellara, “See you at the velodrome