Fabian Cancellara will have pressure on his shoulders to win Paris-Roubaix on Sunday and complete the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix double, said rival Tom Boonen. Boonen knows, he completed the double in 2005, the first year for him to win either of the two races.
“It is a big pressure. He has a strong team and the work will be on their shoulders,” Team Quick Step’s Boonen said in a press conference on Friday.
“We have two guys that are able to win the race and they have two guys. We have to be smart and try to control the race from the last 100 kilometres onwards, from the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector. We have to always keep our hands on the race.”
Belgium’s Boonen will lead Quick Step with Stijn Devolder, and Switzerland’s’ Cancellara will have Saxo Bank team-mate Matti Breschel.
Cancellara won Paris-Roubaix in 2006, but Boonen has won it three times, including the last two years. Cancellara is in top form, winning the E3 Prijs two weeks ago and the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, both head-to-head matches with Boonen and has a team that dominated Flanders.
“Roubaix is definitely a different race than Flanders, you can’t compare the two races,” continued Boonen. “The last two years, I was always a little bit better than Fabian.
“I will try to stay with him, there is no need to make a one-man show. I will try to beat him in the sprint and I won’t let him go free because if I do there will be no bringing him back.”
Boonen also spoke of Italian Filippo Pozzato (“Pippo has the ability to go well, but I don’t know just how sick he was”) and the withdrawal of Alessandro Ballan (“He wasn’t going that strong anyway”).
The conference came on the heels of crossing the boarder into France to view the final sectors of Paris-Roubaix. This year’s race covers 259 kilometres and 52.9 of those kilometres are on cobbled roads, a total of 27 sectors.
“I fear sector 13, the Marc Madiot sector. It is not so long, it is the one where the motorcycle hit the people last year. The cobblestones on the ground are as if a big truck dumped them and just left them there. It is awful.
“You come to it from a big road and then it is a small road, leaving 50 kilometres to go, so the race is already broken up. It is one of the worst parts of the race. It is not so long, so nothing big happens, but last year I attacked there and we went away with 10 guys.”
Boonen’s 2009 was his third after 2005 and 2008. He broke free of his last rival, Thor Hushovd, in the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector and rode the final 15 kilometres solo.