Belgian Johan Van Summeren feels confident in topping last year’s fifth place performance at Paris-Roubaix tomorrow with the help of Garmin-Transitions team-mate David Millar.
Last year, racing for Silence-Lotto, Van Summeren formed part of the six-man winning move with team-mate Leif Hoste, Juan Antonio Flecha, Thor Hushovd, Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and eventual winner Tom Boonen. But his race spun out of control, literally, in the Camphin-en-Pévèle when he braked to avoid a crash with Hoste and Flecha. He got going again and achieved his best Roubaix result to date.
Van Summeren races for US-based Garmin this year and will lead the team with Dutchman Martijn Maaskant, fourth in 2008. Protecting the two are American Tyler Farrar, winner of Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, and Briton Millar, overall winner of The Three Days of De Panne.
“We certainly have a good team for Roubaix. It is a whole new experience for David and Tyler has proven he is good on the cobble stones,” Van Summeren told Cycling Weekly.
“Millar’s happy to be here and he’ll do well. If you can ride that fast on the bike and have that build then you can also handle the cobbles. There is no doubt about his ability to handle a bike.”
With the help of Millar and team Garmin, Van Summeren hopes to battle favourites Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Boonen (Quick Step). Boonen has won the last two editions of Roubaix, but Cancellara favoured following his win in the Tour of Flanders last Sunday.
Van Summeren said that it will be hard to beat Boonen or Cancellara, but feels he is at the level of rivals Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and former team-mate, Hoste (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
“I am going well, and better than last week at Flanders. I hope to show to the fans that I can also ride well and maybe I will make life hard on the favourites.
“Last year was my best moment to date, but I have only ridden Roubaix three times. It’s odd, the race had never been my focus, but after starting it for fun one year I found myself shifting into the leader’s role.”
In addition to Millar and Farrar, Julian Dean, Steve Cozza, Dan Pate and Ricardo Van Der Velde will support leaders Van Summeren and Maaskant.