Ghent-Wevelgem winner Luca Paolini tips Bradley Wiggins for the win in Paris-Rouaix on April 12

Sky’s Bradley Wiggins is impressing some of the most experienced professionals in the peloton in his run-up to Paris-Roubaix on April 12.

The British champion, winner of the 2012 Tour de France, returned to action on Sunday in the Ghent-Wevelgem one-day race. He pulled out of the event when the winds ripped the peloton to pieces, but has already made an impression on his rivals.

“Wiggins will win Paris-Roubaix this year,” Ghent-Wevelgem winner Luca Paolini told Cycling Weekly.

“He has class. When he puts a goal in his head, it’s almost impossible that he makes an error on his way to it. He has Olympic gold medals, the Tour de France… Now he wants the Roubaix cobble trophy.”

Bradley Wiggins in the 2015 Ghent-Wevelgem

Bradley Wiggins in the 2015 Ghent-Wevelgem

Italian Paolini won Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday when he attacked an escape group with Sky’s Geraint Thomas at six kilometres remaining. It was his biggest win in a career that began in 2000.

The 38-year-old team Katusha rider, however, does not lack experience. He often captains Italy’s team for the world championships because of his tactical knowledge.

He led Alexander Kristoff to victory in Milan-San Remo last year. This year, he must help his Norwegian captain through the remaining classics including Paris-Roubaix in two weeks’ time.

It is not just Paolini. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who crashed with two fractured vertebrae in E3 Harelbeke on Friday, are talking about Wiggins too.

“We’ve talked. They are afraid of him for Roubaix,” Paolini added.

“Maybe last year it was a surprise for many, and maybe for Wiggins, too. He saw that day that he could return to win it.”

Wiggins raced to three Olympic gold medals on the track and won the Tour de France, but closes his chapter with team Sky in a series of classics. His goal is to win Paris-Roubaix before switching to the track again to focus on the Hour Record and the 2016 Olympics.

“It’s been months that he’s been working for this, working on equipment with Pinarello in December. His physical condition is perfect, he’s ready to win Roubaix,” Paolini said.

Bradley Wiggins, Paris-Roubaix 2014

Bradley Wiggins, Paris-Roubaix 2014

“There are few like Wiggins in cycling who can go from the track, the Tour and go on to do this. Maybe there are more of them now due to a strong track school, especially in Great Britain. Those riders understand how to study and to read their numbers. It shows that the track should be given more attention, something which my generation didn’t do.”

Other experts in cycling disagree with Paolini.

“I think he’s got what it takes, but no I don’t think he can pull it off,” explained team BMC’s sporting manager and former professional, Allan Peiper.

“It’s just for the simple reason that there are so many specialists there. There are so many guys who have had years and years of experience in Roubaix and know how to ride that race.”

  • rob f

    yer there is no doubt wiggo has a chance, But there are so many variables in paris roubaix its like the grand national of cycling events

  • Paddy

    Lady luck is the biggest factor and nice one Luca putting the pressure on Wiggo and off your team mate Kristoff

  • hailpantani

    Hopefully, Luca is right. Wiggo could have done better in his last P-R. Possibly self-doubt caused him to hesitate at the crucial moment. He KNOWS he can do it now!

  • Mark Jones

    Here’s hoping he goes out in style. Perfect scenario would be him helping G to win Flanders and then G returning the favour (as he so often does) to help Wiggo win Roubaix.

  • Kevino Daviessss

    It will be interesting to see if he can prove the doubting team managers wrong?
    It takes luck as well as skill but Wiggo is going about it quietly!
    With a few missing he’s got a great chance as I’m sure he’s done the training to be in shape and ready for his last Road challenge, GOOD LUCK WIGGO.

  • He must be showing his form before the TV’s start rolling. I’d like to see him do well at Flanders.