Britain?s Roger Hammond says that following his strong ride and second place in Ghent-Wevelgem, he is now ?looking forward much more to Roubaix.?
?After what happened in Ghent-Wevelgem, I?m a lot more confident about my chances on Sunday.? Hammond, who finished third in Paris-Roubaix back in 2004, told CW.
?But I?m very, very aware that for everything to fall into place at Paris-Roubaix for me, a lot of things have to be right on the day.?
?That?s part of the beauty of the Classics, you can be the strongest rider there and come away with nothing.?
?In any case, my morale is good, I feel good physically, and I feel I?ve shown what I can do to myself and the team.?
?We?ve got a good team for Roubaix: me, Marcus Burghardt, [Bernard] Eisel, Andreas Klier…I don?t know yet, though, who?ll have ?protected rider? status. We?ll adapt the team round that on Sunday.?
Together with his T-Mobile team-mates, Hammond will do an in-depth reconnaissance of the last part of Roubaix on Friday morning, riding from just before Arenberg Forest to the finish.
?Apart from that, my aim is to recover as much as possible from Ghent-Wevelgem before Sunday. Then we?ll see what happens.?
The weather in northern France is expected to stay exceptionally warm for this weekend, making for a fast, nervous race. “We’ll be eating dust all the way to Roubaix.” Leif Hoste, second in Flanders, said on Friday.
Another factor which will make Roubaix even more unpredictable this year is the number of level crossings on the parcours, which has risen to eight after changes to the route. Last year, World Champion Tom Boonen was forced to to wait for a goods train to pass, after eventual winner Fabian Cancellara passed through unimpeded, while Leif Hoste, Peter Van Petegem and Vladimir Gusev were all disqualified after ignoring the warning lights and ducking under the barriers.
The same level crossing is still there on this year’s route, ten kilometres from the finish, and three trains are due to pass between 1655 and 1733. Almost the exact period of time the race is expected to arrive.
French railway authorities SNCF have warned that their trains, even the goods trains, will continue to have priority over Paris-Roubaix.