Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix – Quick-Step Floors see no comparison, but promise attacks regardless on Sunday during stage nine.
The 2018 Tour covers 21.7 kilometres of the French cobbled farm roads to reach Roubaix, just outside the velodrome that hosts the spring Monument’s finish every April. The comparisons can stop there.
“Is very important in the morning when you wake up if you have good or bad legs. But you don’t have to compare it with Paris-Roubaix, it’s a totally different exercise, that’s 265 kilometres a one-day race, you can be concentrated for one week for it,” Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere said.
“Here on Sunday, you have to eat the pavé if you want to or not, and of course there will be classification riders, the GC riders will be very nervous, we’ll see crashes. And then, we’re going to attack, whatever.”
The team includes former Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra, Yves Lampaert, Philippe Gilbert – all strong Classics men.
Quick-Step Floors has an impressive run of wins in Paris-Roubaix. Tom Boonen won four times with the Belgian squad and Terpstra won in 2014.
Terpstra is one of five former Roubaix winners racing on Sunday. His job in Quick-Step is to help leader Bob Jungels stay with his classification rivals. The team, though, will also go for a stage win.
“[Jungels] won Paris-Roubaix, but that was the juniors, we are the pros,” Lefevere added. “But we’re going to try and do something at least maybe to eliminate some GC riders, we don’t know who, we don’t care. Maybe, if you have a flat tyre you eliminate yourself.”
Like most Tour stages, there will be two separate races: one for the day’s win and one for the overall classification. Lefevere is keeping an eye on the classification rivals.
“I don’t know, a few years ago [in 2014] Nibali was very good but the situation is difficult because here it will be dust and a few years ago it was wet, very dangerous,” Lefevere continued.
“I think also Froome can do it. I think it’s more dangerous for smaller guys like Quintana, those guys have more fear I think than the other guys.”
For Lefevere, teams can go for both the stage win and keep their riders protected. Yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet won Paris-Roubaix in 2017, but needs to keep an eye on BMC Racing’s overall hope Richie Porte.
“Greg Van Avermaet won Paris-Roubaix last year, Sagan this year but other sprinters are very good Classics riders who want to do something,” he continued.
“Of course, I only order here and not the other teams. But Sep Vanmarcke has said already he has to stay with Rigoberto Urán and I don’t know the orders of BMC for Van Avermaet. But we didn’t come to win the Tour we came to do a good GC.”