Monument – ‘a structure erected to commemorate people or events.’ There are five of them in cycling; Milan-San Remo; the Tour of Flanders; Liege-Bastogne-Liege; the Tour of Lombardy… and Paris-Roubaix. In the case of the first four named, most of the parcours are driven or pedalled 364 days of the year by all manner of folks going about their business…not so Roubaix.
Paris-Roubaix is different – it’s roads are only used by farmers and die hard cyclists most of the year – and, its parcours are from an age long gone. It’s not just the pave, which we’ve all heard so much about; it’s the mud, the gravel, the ruts, the dangerous cambers, the kerbstones, the ditches, the potholes and the crazed fans which make it what it is – unbelieveably unique.
Ever since we witnessed Cancellara ride Boonen off his wheel last weekend at Tour of Flanders we knew there was going to be a clash of the titans between Sparticus and Tornado Tom. Cancellara was on great form and handily won Flanders last Sunday, but Paris-Roubaix is a different kind of beast. It’s flat and there won’t be the same opportunities for Cancellara to use his time trial abilities to get away. Cancellara is definitely going well right now, but he’ll need to be smarter than that on Sunday if he wants to win his second P-R. The bookmakers put Cancellara on top followed by Boonen and Breschel. Big George just slides into the top 10 with the odds (great odds if you’re betting on a mechanical though). But much like how I always pick Iowa to win the NCAA basketball tourney brackets, I’m betting on BIg George – he’s most definitely due! Also, keep a look out for young American Tyler Farrar, who pulled out a top five at Flanders last week.
If this doesn’t get you pumped up, nothing will: