"No guy that has won Roubaix or even come close to winning Roubaix is a wimp."

Taylor Phinney loves the Spring Classics. The 23-year-old American on BMC tells Sophie Smith what makes racing on the cobbles — especially at Paris-Roubaix — just so special.

“The Classics are dramatic. They’ve always been really fun to watch, for me, so I was drawn to them just for the pure entertainment value. When I was younger I’d watch them and want to be one of those riders who is providing the entertainment.

“They’re really, really difficult. They’re really stressful. They’re not necessarily fun but it’s something that suits my characteristics, and it’s something that can inspire a lot of people and create a lot of emotion on the other side.

“The Classics are so long that there are so many opportunities for yourself to ruin it over the course of the day. You’re basically trying to not ruin the race for yourself by flatting or crashing or spending too much energy by being too far up, or back. When the time comes you have to have the legs to be able to respond and make that front group. Then, from there, it’s a whole different story of trying to win the race.

“It’s always been about Roubaix [for me], largely because I just feel like it’s the most dramatic one of all. It’s the one race I can watch from 150km to go and be standing in front of the TV the whole time.

“Roubaix is all about power, and being able to recover from big efforts. It’s about being a hard-man. It brings everything full circle with me finishing in the velodrome [Phinney is a former track world champion], not to be too cheesy. Characteristically it’s the perfect race for me. You don’t have to be freakishly skinny or light.

“You have to be like a real man! It’s a man thing. Men get really excited about man things. It’s the closest thing we have to being a gladiator. No guy that has won Roubaix or even come close to winning Roubaix is a wimp, is what I’m trying to say!”

This article originally appeared in the March 27 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine.