Boonen aims to equal De Vlaeminck's Roubaix record
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Tom Boonen has the chance to equal Roger De Vlaeminck's record of four wins in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Belgian could also become only the third rider to win three in a row, after Octave Lapize (1909, 1910, 1911) and Francesco Moser (1978, 1979, 1980).
De Vlaeminck earned the nickname Monsieur Paris-Roubaix after his four victories, which came in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977. But if he equals the record, what will they call Boonen?
THE BEST PARIS-ROUBAIX VIDEO CLIPS ON THE WEB
CW has trawled the net so you don't have to. Watch some great moments from Paris-Roubaix's history. Paris-Roubaix on You Tube
It will be interesting to see if the organisers or the Amis de Paris-Roubaix (Friends of Paris-Roubaix) hold a tribute to Franco Ballerini.
The Italian won the race in 1995 and 1998 and was gracious in defeat when beaten so narrowly by Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle in 1993. Ballerini was killed in a car crash while taking part in a rally in February. He was just 45. When he arrived in the velodrome at the end of his final Paris-Roubaix in 2001, he unzipped his jersey to reveal a T-shirt with the message 'Merci Roubaix' on the front. Sunday is Roubaix's chance to say 'Merci Franco'.
FORMER WINNERS IN ACTION
There will be just three former winners of Paris-Roubaix on the start line in Compiègne on Sunday. Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady.
However, several past winners of the espoirs edition of Paris-Roubaix will take part. Thor Hushovd, winner in 1998, rides for Cervélo, hoping to do better than last year, when he crashed while well in contention.
Radioshack's Yaroslav Popovych won the espoirs race in 2001. Skil-Shimano have two former espoirs winners - Koen De Kort (2004) and Tom Veelers (2006). Rabobank have the 2005 champion Dmitriy Kozontchuk and BBOX Bouygues Telecom have 2007 winner Damien Gaudin.
World pursuit champion Taylor Phinney won last year but it'll be a year or two before he rides the senior event.
Peter Sagan, the Slovakian who impressed for Liquigas in Paris-Nice, was second in the junior Paris-Roubaix in 2008. He was beaten by Britain's Andy Fenn. Sagan is in the Liquigas team for Sunday.
Team Sky have both Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard, who were first and second in the 2004 junior Paris-Roubaix. Simon Spilak, now of Lampre, was fourth that day. Stannard and Thomas arrived at the velodrome together ahead of the next group but as they approached the velodrome, Stannard followed the lead car down the deviation. Stannard told CW: "I'd never watched it on TV. I was right up the arse of the lead car and it flicked off into the deviation and I went with it. 'G' was on my wheel and started to go too, but he shouted and I had to bounce it round and sprint back and that was the finish."
JUNIOR PARIS-ROUBAIX 2010
The Great Britain team for Sunday's Junior Paris-Roubaix is Matthew Bailey, Sam Harrison, Daniel McLay, Josh Papworth, Tom Moses and Josh Edmundson. The manager is Darren Tudor.
KATUSHA'S CANNY MOVE
With Filippo Pozzato facing a race against time to recover from illness, his Katusha team have called up Robbie McEwen for his first Paris-Roubaix since 1998.
The order of team cars for Sunday's race is based on the highest ranked rider in each squad. With Pozzato out, Katusha faced the prospect of being well down towards the back of the convoy. That far back, they may as well not be there once the roads get narrow. McEwen's presence hauls the Katusha car up the line.
Updated: Pozzato looks set to win his race to be fit for Paris-Roubaix.
FANCY THE COBBLES?
If Sunday's race whets your appetite for the cobbles, why not ride the Paris-Roubaix sportive in June?
There's still time to enter the event, on June 6, 2010.
The sportive is held every other year and in 2008 CW's riders tackled the full-length event. Read all about it here. The event's official website is here.
CW'S WINNING STREAK
Last week, CW correctly predicted the top three - in order. We went for Cancellara, Boonen and Gilbert. If only we'd put a tenner on it.
Look out for our prediction of how Paris-Roubaix will turn out - on the site on Friday.
OH SO CLOSE
Twenty years ago, the sprint finish on the velodrome at Roubaix was so close it took a photo finish to declare a winner. Eddy Planckaert of Belgium got the verdict over Canadian Steve Bauer.
Our sister magazine, Cycle Sport featured the race in the new series of Classic Races. We spoke to all the key figures in the race to piece together the compelling story of that race.
You can read the feature on the 1990 Paris-Roubaix online now.