Paris-Roubaix is among the toughest one-day races on the calendar and it takes the toughest individual to win. After having endured a daunting gauntlet of cobbles the pilots arrive in the Roubaix Velodrome. A perfect blend of positioning, bike handling, power and tactical nous are essential if you want to win the Hell of the North. But let’s not forget about of a large slice of luck either. Given the conditions, mechanical issues are unavoidable in Roubaix, the timing of which can be the difference between winning and losing.
Looking at the statistics, Sep Vanmarcke is a master in controlling the above factors. In the last four editions the Flemish rider finished three times with the first four pilots. Zdenek Stybar’s palmares is equally impressive, finishing four times out of five with the best six riders. The Czech former World Champion cyclo-cross was runner-up twice – in 2015 and 2017. Will 2018 be his year?
Title defender Greg Van Avermaet brought three top 5’s home in five years, yet – unlike Stybar and Vanmarcke – the Olympic Champion solidified these credentials with one victory.
But obviously, statistics don’t tell the full story. Who reaches Roubaix in his best form and with a lot of confidence? The winner of the 2014 Paris-Roubaix, Niki Terpstra, is stronger than ever. His Flemish campaign already is very successful with wins in the Tour of Flanders and the E3 Harelbeke. He pulled off both victories in stellar style, namely with long solos.
Tiesj Benoot (Strade Bianche), Vincenzo Nibali (Milan-San Remo), Peter Sagan (Gent-Wevelgem) and Yves Lampaert (Dwars door Vlaanderen) are the other victors in the other major Classics of 2018. Terpstra, Sagan and Lampaert ride the Hell of the North, the others don’t.
Greg Van Avermaet (2017), Mathew Hayman (2016), John Degenkolb (2015) and Niki Terpstra (2014) are the only contenders who did win Paris-Roubaix before.
Favourites 2018 Paris-Roubaix
***** Greg Van Avermaet, Sep Vanmarcke, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra
**** Geraint Thomas, Jasper Stuyven, Gianni Moscon, John Degenkolb
*** Arnaud Démare, Peter Sagan, Wout van Aert, Alexander Kristoff
** Philippe Gilbert, Oliver Naesen, Ian Stannard, Mads Pedersen
* Edvald Boasson Hagen, Mathew Hayman, Heinrich Haussler, Edward Theuns
Paris-Roubaix 2018: Route maps, and more
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