Paris – Roubaix is the flattest of all the classics but has around 30km of brutal cobbled sections (which I can vouch for). The race traditionally suits heavier, powerful riders but without Boonen and Cancellara, the race is ready to move onto a new generation. If wet, this race can descend into a true Hell of the North and will have plenty of crashes. Hopefully the weather stays dry and we have a classic duel.
Paris – Roubaix Profile
Paris – Roubaix Contenders
With no Tom Boonen or Fabian Cancellara, for once there’s no overwhelming favourite with previous history. It looks like there will only be two previous winners racing, such has been the domination of these two in the last decade.
This year’s Paris – Roubaix favourite has to be Alexander Kristoff, the form he has shown this spring has been immense. He has won 9 races so far this year, which is a huge haul – it’s hard to look beyond the winner of the Tour of Flanders.
In the chasing group are the likes of Peter Sagan, Niki Terpstra, John Degenkolb and Sep Vanmarcke.
Peter Sagan has been a bit iffy this year, but it feels wrong to rule him out completely.
Niki Terpstra won Paris – Roubaix in 2014 and has won the Tour of Qatar and numerous podium spots this year.
John Degenkolb came 2nd last year but also has won Milan – San Remo this year so is clearly in form.
Sep Vanmarcke has once again been repeating his excellent run of top ten finishes without a win, this will continue.
Following on from that group are the Sky duo of Bradley Wiggins & Geraint Thomas. Bradley will want to finish off his road career with a strong result, he looked good in this race last year so can get a decent result with some luck. Geraint Thomas won the E3 Harelbeke race a few weeks ago and has been impressive this year, he also seems to have stopped his habit of crashing when in good positions.
Quickstep’s backup plan will be Zdanek Stybar who has won Strade Bianche and finished 2nd in E3 Harelbeke during 2015.
In the absence of Fabian Cancellara, Stijn Devolder has been asked to step up and become the Trek team’s classics leader. Good results in Driedaagse de Panne and Tour of Flanders give Trek some hope.
The final group of contenders includes Greg van Avermaet, Matti Breschel, Jurgen Roelandts & Lars Boom.
Van Avermaet has done well all spring but has often been the face seen trying the do or die move out of the peloton, which has hamped some finishing positions – 2nd in Strade Bianche and 3rd in Tour of Flanders shows he can do well.
Matti Breschel has 4 top-20 finishes at Paris – Roubaix, his current form is suggesting a similar result – he will be backup to Peter Sagan.
Jurgen Roelandts has been sneaking into the top-10 quite a bit this season. 11th at Milan – San Remo, 7th at both E3 Harelbeke and Gent – Wevelgem and 8th at the Tour of Flanders.
Lars Boom hasn’t had the best spring but his 6th place at the Tour of Flanders has given Astana hope and he should be their main focus despite all the off-bike issues Astana have.
Paris – Roubaix Outsiders
Sebastien Turgot has previously finished second here and been on the cusp of the top ten in the last two years but won’t command the attention these results should deserve as he isn’t as strong as several of the others during the rest of the year.
Cannondale’s Dylan van Baarle is a rider whose best years are ahead of him – winning last year’s Tour of Britain put him on the map and good results this Spring mean he can do well in Paris – Roubaix.
Normally I just go for Edward Theuns, but I’m getting bored of that. His teammate Jelle Wallays won Dwars door Vlaanderen earlier in the Spring so is in an equally good position as Theuns.
Paris – Roubaix Prediction
1 – Alexander Kristoff
2 – Sep Vanmarcke
3 – Geraint Thomas