Rushed for time this week so those after a general overview of the race should take a look at RCUK’s preview. The key thing to bear in mind in is that the finale has changed. Instead of finishing on top of the Cauberg the race will finish 1.8km further down the road. This should see a more dynamic race rather than the sprint we have seen up the Cauberg in the last three years.
As a result of this change a key indicator to look is last year’s men world’s championship. It is worth watching Philippe Gilbert’s amazing attack again. All the signs point towards an epic battle between Peter Sagan and Gilbert up the Caubery. Gilbert knows he can’t beat him in a sprint as Wednseday’s finish at De Brabantse Pijl proved. Therefore his focus will be on trying to shed Sagan on the climb while Sagan knows if he can follow the Gilbert attack then he will most likely win.
As Sagan is currently best priced at 6/5 and Gilber at 9/2 I would not avoid backing either. Normally 30 riders or so are at the bottom of the Cauberg. There is no reason why are larger group of four or five riders will not come together over the top and contest the sprint for the win. If Sagan is not there due to being dropped or crashing then there are many other contenders for the win.
He is currently third favourite in the betting markets. He has talking up his chances to the press and why not he has won three races already this year. His races wins usually come from following a group and winning the sprint which is real possibility. Only thing for me against him is price. While he is listed at 16/1 with some bookies this is for the outright win and each way bets are not available. If bookie offering each way on the race lists him at 16s I would back.
Historically always around the top 10 in this race, the new route should help him. Normally he is out gunned on the climb but comes back on the flatter section like he did in Wednesday De Brabantse Pijl. The 1.8km flat run to the finish line from the top of the climb should hopefully give him enough recovery time for the sprint.
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Disappointed in Roubaix and Flanders so why could back him here? Clearly Team Sky feel he is capable of getting a result by putting him their strong team. His price is too large for me considering his performance at last year world’s on this very finish where he followed Gilbert’s attach well and held of a pursuing bunch for second place.
The Movistar team is very strong with Valverde, Quintana and Amador in its ranks. Rui Costa is likely to play second fiddle to Valverde. However that should not discount him. He has ridden well this year and won last time out in the Klasika Primavera. A strong dark horse contender.
If the racing ahead of the Cauberg is not that aggressive then a rider like Meersmen could follow some of the attacks on the climb. If he gets to the line with a group he has a very strong kick.
Leukemans EW 80/1 Stan James
Edvald Boasson Hagen EW 66/1 SkyBet
Rui Costa EW 80/1 Stan James
Meersmen EW 50/1 BoyleSports
Have had a quick look at Oddschecker I have decided that the time to bet on Roubaix is sooner rather than later. This is to take advantage of some nicely priced outsiders whose odds may not stay that large in the days leading into Sunday’s race.
Looking at the past winners of the race there are usually two outcomes to Paris-Roubaix. Either the strongest rider on the day wins (Museeuw, Boonen and Cancellara) or a strong less fancied rider manages to stay away (Knaven, O’Grady and Van Summeren). All the signs point to Cancellara romping to victory for a third time.
It is hard to argue against this logic considering his dominant win at Flanders and past performances in this race. The only way I can see him beaten is if the race follows a similar pattern to 2011 where large groups of riders went up the road and eventually Cancellara was left isolated by his teammates and unable to chase down Van Summeren in time. The onus will be on Omega Pharma-Quick-Step and Team Sky to send some of their strong riders up the rode early in the race. If Cancellara still has a couple of teammates for support after the infamous Arenberg section of cobbles then I can’t see anyone beating him.
Having said that I still think there are some value each way bets to be had for a top three finish. First here are some I will not be backing:
Hushovd – has not finished Flanders, Milan-San Remo or E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke this season.
Phinney – amazed he is going in as joint second favourite at 14/1. Will likely win this race in his career but not this early on.
Stannard and Thomas – both priced too short at 16s and 20s respectively. Expecting strong rides from them and Team Sky after their shocker in Flanders but not podiums.
Boasson Hagen – Flanders confirmed to me that he has not got the legs to match the best
Here are some that are worth considering:
Johan Vansummeren 66/1: The winner of the 2011 race. He really impressed me at Flanders with his positioning for the key periods of the race and looked stronger than I have seen him all year. He is clearly Garmin-Sharp’s team leader. Snap up those nice odds from Bet365
Stijn Vandenbergh 80/1: For me his is the best chance in the Omega Pharma team. Terpstra looked off the pace in the Flanders and historically Chavanel has never done well at Roubaix. Vandenbergh has shown well in many races this year especially the flatter semi-classics. His only drawback is that he can’t sprint so would only win solo or he is was up against Flecha.
Matthieu Ladagnous 100/1: 5th in Flanders and 6th in Gent – Wevelgem this year. Also was 12th in this race last year. Only worry is that he is French. As they have not won a monument since Laurent Jalabert in the 1997 Tour of Lombardy. Drought
Sebastian Langeveld 80/1: If you watch Orica – Greenedge’s excellent backstage pass videos you will have noticed that he felt he had great legs at Flanders. He rode well there and was positioned well by his team. Stuart O’Grady will be key for him on Sunday as his experience in this race should put him prime position heading into the key cobbled sectors. Langeveld has been threatening a big result all year and I fancy Sunday he could get it.
Lars Boom 25/1: He is bullish about his chances and form. He has all the makings of a strong single day rider but has yet to pull off a big result yet. In stage races he has been more successful winning prologue and the GC three times. Came 12th here in 2011 and 6th last year so another improvement could see him on the podium.
Sebastian Turgot 66/1: I tipped him for Flanders last week at 200/1 as many of you must have done, as his price came in before the race. He rode well there finishing 8th after attacking before Cancellara and Sagan made their move. He surprised many to come second in Roubaix last year. At 66/1 he is worth a nibble but maybe last week was his peak.