Allan Peiper, the Australian who is now the manager of BMC Racing and who was an accomplished cobbled Classics rider himself, believes Sir Bradley Wiggins has the firepower to perform at the Hell of the North, but told Cycling Weekly that he believed the combined might of the opposition would stop him from doing so.
The race is set to be Wiggins’s final outing for Team Sky.
“I think he’s got what it takes, but no I don’t think he can pull it off,” Peiper said.
“It’s just for the simple reason that there are so many specialists there: Fabian Cancellara, Niki Terpstra, Sep Vanmarcke. There are so many guys who have had years and years of experience in Roubaix and know how to ride that race.
“I’m not going to say it won’t happen, but I don’t think it will.”
Wiggins will resume his Classics campaign at this Friday’s E3-Harelbeke alongside Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe and Peter Kennaugh.
“I don’t see Bradley stepping up to that level where he’s going to ride away from [the favourites] and leave them behind,” Peiper added.
“And if he is in a front group, he’ll be marked, that’s for sure. To be marked and ride away from everybody, you’ve got to be a Cancellara or a Boonen on your best day.”
Tom Boonen will miss out on the chance to take a record-breaking fifth victory in the Roubaix velodrome after falling and dislocating his shoulder on stage one of this year’s Paris-Nice in March.
His absence could make for an interesting tactical dynamic as the combined might of Etixx-Quick-Step is reduced; Peiper believes Team Sky could shoulder some of the responsibility.
“It might make it less predictable, but it might put some onus on other teams to take some responsibililty, not just Quickstep all the time,” he said.
“Sky have been bulding their arsenal of Classics riders and Stannard coming to the front in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and winning two years in a row has given the team confidence that they can put their power behind him, and they’ve proved it works.
“I’d say Sky’s Classics team is as good as it’s ever been.”