In two days, Paris-Roubaix will start and finish. Approximately 165 riders will depart the small village of Compiegne and if it is a true Paris-Roubaix, i.e. rain, mud and generally horrific conditions, less than half of the starters will actually finish at the velodrome in Roubaix. Much has and will be written about this archaic throwback of a bike race, but dammit this is the race that made me want to be a cyclist.
I can still remember being 15 years old and glued to the tv watching everybody get destroyed by mud and cobbles. Sean Kelly whipping his domestiques into a frenzy to catch the breakaways. Rudi Dhaenens hitting the deck multiple times while wearing no. 13. As soon as it was over, Jason and I were out riding and imagining our own Roubaix, killing it into the headwind and listening to Phil Ligget poetry in our heads. Roubaix will always be the race I love most dearly above all others.
Everyone is asking for picks for victory, so here goes. George Hincapie will not come through this or any other year as the victor. I wish it were otherwise, but I just don't think he has it. His best shot came when Tom Boonen was his domestique on the U.S. Postal team and that ended with a cartwheel into a ditch. My feeling is that Quickstep may just pull a Mapei and have 3 guys (Boonen, Devolder, and Chavenal) in the final move and will absolutely work over the unfortunate soul(s) that are unlucky enough to be caught up with them. Boonen is the odds on favorite, and for that reason alone I don't think he will win. My tendency is toward Chavenal or Devolder with a heavy lean toward Chavenal. No matter what, it will be exciting. The forecast is for a bit of rain and that will make it a grand race to watch!