Thor Hushovd explained that he feels he is back at his best ahead of Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. He is a two-time podium finisher – third and second – and is ready to step up.
The former world champion said; “I’d prefer to have better preparation, but I seem to be on form and back in the rhythm.”
Hushovd has not had it easy so far this year. He pulled himself through Paris-Nice and came out with a virus, which forced him to watch Milan-San Remo from his couch in Monaco. He then pulled out of E3 Harelbeke, finished 48th in Ghent-Wevelgem and 55th in the Tour of Flanders – not results that give hope.
“I’ve been through similar situations where I’ve been bad,” he explained. “I think I can come back from Flanders, I’m sure I’ll be great in Roubaix.”
His previous Roubaix results support his ambitions: eighth last year, second in 2010, third in 2009 and back in 2005, ninth.
“We’ve been putting the most effort into Roubaix, already since February with Thor doing recon the day after Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne,” added team manager, John Lelangue. “He made sure everything is ready for the D-Day.”
He is racing on a newly-designed BMC bike and backed by experienced men, including George Hincapie, Alessandro Ballan and two-time under-23 winner, Taylor Phinney.
Ballan created the winning attack on the Oude Kwaremont on Sunday and pulled clear of eventual winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini). He failed to rid himself of them in multiple attacks and had to settle for third place.
Boonen’s own team-mates say that they fear Ballan the most. Ballan said it would be difficult for him to attack solo, especially if the wind is how it was when the team reconnoitred the Roubaix parcours yesterday morning. Furthermore, he said that with Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) out with a broken collarbone it becomes harder for him to shed the fast finishers, like Boonen and Pozzato.
“I can follow Tom in the cobbles and I know I can beat him in the sprint,” Hushovd continued. “He’s afraid of me in the sprint. I can’t say I will beat him every time, but I think he wants to come into the velodrome with as few guys as possible.”
He added, “I know that I can win the race.”