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?
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