The Queen of the Classics finally returns. After last year’s edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this 118th edition rescheduled to October, from its traditional slot in April, now the long-awaited moment has arrived.
On Sunday, October 3rd, Paris-Roubaix will be back with its 55km of cobblestones spread out over 30 sectors, including the confirmed legendary five stars rated Trouée d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and the Carrefour de l’Arbre, for a total distance of 257.7km from Compiègne to the iconic finish at Roubaix velodrome.
The nickname Hell of the North couldn’t be even more appropriate this year, as it will probably be a rainy day. It hasn’t rained since 2002, but a wet Paris-Roubaix is something a massive classics expert like Heinrich Haussler – twice top ten finisher and at his fourteen participation – is looking for: “It would be the next level. I’m not saying I wish for it, but it’s something I like to have sooner or later. Have a real wet, muddy race. Get into the velodrome completely full of mud and dirt, belongs to the race and its history. For me, Paris-Roubaix is, without doubt, by far the hardest race on the calendar, and that’s why it means so much to me. It’s so brutal as you push your body to the absolute limit. I love this hardness of the race. It really motivates me. The best approach is to have a fighting spirit and never give up”.
Regarding the experience at this race, Bahrain Victorious team will also count on Marcel Sieberg, who will end his 17 years long career at the Roubaix, notably the race where he took an impressive 7th place in 2016 and where he will be at the start for the 14th time.
Both riders will offer precious advice to race debutant, Sonny Colbrelli: “I’m excited to debut at Roubaix. I came from an intense period, culminated with the World Champs last Sunday. I’m trying to stay focus one week more, knowing that I will have to face something far from easy. I tasted the pavé on a Tour de France stage, but it can’t be compared to my absolute first time on this race. It’s something totally new that I want to try, as it is so different from other races. More than ever, you have to be lucky not to have any mechanical issues, flat tyres or crashes. I’m really looking forward to riding it”.
It will not be a real debut for Fred Wright, as he rode the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs in 2019 and Juniors in 2016-2017, and Jonathan Milan as he participated in the Juniors edition of the race in 2018. Those experiences made both young athletes falling in love with the cobbles and having the Paris-Roubaix as their favourite race. A race that no doubt also suits them and that they dream of winning in the future.
Bahrain Victorious SD Rolf Aldag: “We did the recon of the second half of the race today on pretty dry cobbles. Nothing of what we can expect on Sunday. It will be even more important to enter the cobbles in the front to take the race on, and riders need to be super focused. You need to control the race and avoid situations in which it can get out of your hands. We know that we have excellent equipment for rainy conditions and that gives our riders much more confidence. They are thrilled about this race and motivated. At his last race before retirement, Sieberg wants to show what he’s capable of doing and can be the key helper towards the finale for positioning the team. Milan will be fundamental at the beginning of the race, where attacks go off on the tarmac, and all the others basically have the chance to get into the finale. As a team, we can ride offensively, we can try to anticipate the race. We can also try to get into groups, because it will be much easier if you are in the leading small group to enter the cobbles, rather than having a big group sprinting to the pavé sector. All riders are in perfect shape and could join an attack. The goal will be to take a strong result”.
Bahrain Victorious lineup for Paris-Roubaix: Sonny Colbrelli, Marco Haller, Heinrich Haussler, Jonathan Milan, Matej Mohorič, Marcel Sieberg, Fred Wright.
— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com