Sky will race the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic tomorrow with several options for the win. It will lead with Edvald Boasson Hagen and keep its Brits Geraint Thomas and Brad Wiggins as secondary options.
“With the classics, a lot can change quickly,” Thomas said. “You need to be able to adapt and have a plan B, a plan C, or plan D.”
Sky had to put its weight solely behind Thomas and Boasson Hagen for the Tour of Flanders last Sunday after to crashes in Ghent-Wevelgem forced Ian Stannard and Chris Sutton out of the classics campaign.
Thomas led the team to eighth in Flanders with support from Boasson Hagen and Wiggins. The team said yesterday that it would swap the roles for Paris-Roubaix, the last of the cobbled classics this season, and bank on its 26-year-old Norwegian.
“Yeah, I’m the leader, but I need the legs, which I feel that I have,” said Boasson Hagen. “It’s nice to have this opportunity to be the leader. It’s my biggest goal of the spring.”
Boasson Hagen added that the bumps and the turns could change Sky’s plan. If he suffers bad luck, which so often happens in Roubaix, or if Wiggins or Thomas escaped, the black and blue British team would shift its attention.
“I happy to do my bit for whoever the leader is,” Thomas added. “Brad is obviously strong, because once he gets going, there’s no stopping him.”
Last year, Belgian strong team Omega Pharma lost its two options for a win on the Carrefour de l’Arbre cobbled sector. Stijn Vandenbergh caught the side of his bike against a spectator and crashed. Zdenek Stybar clipped another. He stayed upright, but lost ground to Sep Vanmarcke and eventual winner, Fabian Cancellara.
“Not having the Tour de France as the focus, it’s almost like having freedom,” Wiggins said. “If I end up in the hospital, it doesn’t matter. If anything, you can throw caution to the wind.”
Wiggins has not raced the rough roads to Roubaix’s velodrome since 2011 when he supported team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha. Given the race’s dangers, Wiggins agreed to Sky’s multi-pronged approach.
“Eddy could puncture at a crucial stage and if we have numbers there, people can step into his shoes,” Wiggins said. “It changes as you go on the road. It’s the same as [Omega Pharma-] Quick Step, which has many cards to play. It doesn’t always work out how these plans are set.”
If the race goes in Wiggins favour, he could become the first Tour de France winner to capture the Queen of the Classics since Bernard Hinault in 1981. Wiggins said that he believes in his chances to match Hinault. “It’s not just pie in the sky. I can do well.”