Sir Bradley Wiggins (Sky) will try to go from Tour de France king to cobble crusher, taking aim at Paris-Roubaix this spring.
He will also target the Tour of California and support Chris Froome at the Tour.
“I always remember the press cuttings from when I was a kid,” Wiggins told The Guardian. “Roubaix is always something and I’d love to win it, to be part of that final [shakedown], that final 40 or 50 kilometres, so many things come together to have to win that race, or play a part, even if it’s doing a job for Geraint Thomas or whatever.”
Wiggins and the rest of Team Sky met with the press yesterday at their training camp in Mallorca.
Wiggins outlined his schedule: Roubaix, California and Tour. He last raced Roubaix in 2011. In 2009, he placed 25th.
The ‘Hell of the North’ favours riders with big motors like Wiggins.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), a four-time world and 2008 Olympic time trial champion, won three titles. In 2010, he escaped and rode the final 48 kilometres solo to win.
It also requires luck, knowledge and toughness. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) grew up racing cobbles in Belgium. He’s won his home classic, the Tour of Flanders three times and Roubaix four times.
Together, he and Cancellara have claimed seven of the last nine Roubaix titles. Stuart O’Grady, now retired, and Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Sharp) took the other two.
In its 111 editions, a British rider has never won. Roger Hammond, in 2004, and Barry Hoban, in 1972, came the closest, each placing third.
In 2012, Wiggins won the Tour de France and Olympic time trial title. He counts two Olympic individual pursuit gold medals. He said that Roubaix also suits him.
“Once the fighting is done in the early [cobbled] sectors,” he explained, “it’s about spending long periods of time on your own, which I’m good at.”
After Roubaix, Wiggins will target the Tour of California, May 11 to 18, and try to help Froome win a second Tour de France in July.
“Paris-Roubaix is a race he’s always liked since he was a youngster,” Team Principal David Brailsford said in The Guardian. “He’s always felt he has got the physical attributes, so there is an opportunity.
“The Classics are a gaping hole in our palmarès and we’d like to try and sort that out.”