Team Sky will field multiple leaders, including Brit Geraint Thomas, for Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Thomas rode aggressively at the Tour of Flanders and left fans wondering: Should Juan Antonio Flecha support him, not the other way around?
“If you go in with one person, you are going to risk losing everything,” Sky’s coach, Rod Ellingworth said.
“Look at ‘Def Leopard’ [team Leopard-Trek], they were totally relying on Cancellara. He has one problem, and they’re nailed. We need to go with strength in numbers.”
Spaniard Flecha, 33, has ridden the Tour of Flanders every year for the last ten years. In 2008, he finished third behind Stijn Devolder. On Sunday, though, he lacked the brilliance of his 24-year-old team-mate.
Thomas surged to the front after the Oude-Kwaremont cobbled climb and never let off. He chased attacks for Flecha and still appeared sharper in Meerbeke after 258 kilometres. He finished 10th in the winning group of 12. Flecha was 11th.
“Geraint did possibly look a bit sharper than Flecha,” continued Ellingworth. “But you know, Flecha never looks sharp and I think we’d be expecting too much if we thought he was going to be sharp, punchy and moving off the front. He’s just a really strong bike rider, quite one pace. Roubaix does suit him more in that sense.
“Geraint’s ride? It was pretty cool, wasn’t it, bloody hell. He said he was going to do a good ride, and he did.”
Thomas won the juniors’ Paris-Roubaix in 2004 ahead of Sky team-mate Ian Stannard. He made his professional debut last year supporting Flecha, who earned his best result, third. As with Flanders, he’s ready to return and make an impression.
“Could Geraint win? You wouldn’t say no. You’d be silly not to think that. I think, ‘why not?’ He’s got support of the whole team.”
Geraint Thomas attacks the leading group in the final stages of the Tour of Flanders