I guess if he wants to have a go at it by all means, why not? I am just questioning the timing of it a bit because to ride at that level he needs to have gone through all the UCI rules and be registered on whereabouts, but if he can then why not?
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We were on Alessio-Bianchi together in 2004, he helped me win Paris-Roubaix that year, so I do know him quite well and he’s definitely bonkers enough to want to have another go.
I wouldn’t do it. To get to the level where you can compete, and I don’t think there’s any point in coming back just to be on the start line, the amount of time I’ve been out of the sport and not riding for 30 hours a week it’d probably take five years to get back there.
But while he’s been away from the sport for quite some time and not having worked with a team, he has been riding his bike, so it’s interesting.
The safety side of things, the worry that you might hurt yourself or damage yourself at 52, it’ll never enter his mind.
I don’t think this will damage his legacy in any way. There will be enough media attention for it to be a half-tidy investment for someone to take up the start line and take the slot off someone else. I don’t think it’s going to do his reputation any harm.
Magnus Backstedt won Paris-Roubaix in 2004. He currently runs a cycle coaching business.
I run into Tafi every now and then and this year he was really, really into riding his bike and besides that he’s into doing amateur races and then I heard he was winning them. So when I saw that he wanted to return to Paris-Roubaix I wasn’t surprised. It adds up.
But comebacks are never really successful in any sport. How many top sportsmen make a comeback and win? F1 drivers, skiers, football players, none of them. Plus, cycling is a tough sport and it’s a totally different ball game now than when he was racing.
I would leave with what he’s done and what he’s won. Coming back won’t damage his reputation, but it’s just an unrealistic challenge.
I don’t think he can finish a race; maybe he could but that’s the limit. I ride a bit when I have time. I got back into riding a bit more recently and when you do four hours you’re quite knackered, so I don’t see a six-and-a-half-hour race happening. Your body is different when you’re older: my neck gets stiffer, my back hurts a bit more, you are going against your natural ageing process.
There’s the danger side too — imagine if Tafi came down with a guy like Greg Van Avermaet, someone who could win it. That would be a big mess; is it worth the risk?
Also I’m into vintage bikes now and I’ve got my bikes from the 90s — you get on a BMC and a bike from the 90s and there’s a massive difference. Even the equipment is so different.
He’s going to go through a whole lot of different things besides the age.
Max Sciandri rode Paris-Roubaix seven times between 1995 and 2004. He is currently DS with Movistar.
This article originally appeared in Cycling Weekly magazine November 1 issue