It’s Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, and that means it’s also Round 4 of our season-long Fantasy Cycling, with some great prizes on offer from Evans Cycles. Here, road.cc’s resident expert in the peloton, Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, gives more hints on how to get the best out of your team – and if you took his advice ahead of the Tour of Flanders and picked George Hincapie, you’ll be 15 points to the good.
Hincapie, of course, is one of the riders suffering after a crash-strewn Scheldeprijs, and our report highlights which riders are doubtful for Sunday’s Hell of the North or ruled out altogether, such as Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, who broke three ribs.
The issue of when to make transfers has generated a fair bit of debate on the forum this week – as ever, our advice is to make them as late as you can, and to check the race website and Cycling Startlists to get the most up-to-date information.
With Garmin-Cervélo’s Classics campaign not having quite lived up to expectations yet, they’ll be looking to make their mark on Paris-Roubaix, and if you fancy them pulling it off, that may leave you in something of a selection dilemma, since you can only pick one of Tyler Farrar or Thor Hushovd, given that they both fall under the Points Classification heading.
For Geraint, it’s the Norwegian world champion, Thor Hushovd, second to Fabian Cancellara in last year’s race, who gets his vote. “I’d probably go with Thor, just because of the history he has with the race, and he likes the cobbles. He’s a really strong man and can get over them, as we’ve seen in the past.”
That’s not to say, however, that Farrar might not be worth a punt if you don’t agree that the Norwegian will have the staying power to be there at the finale.
“I think with Tyler he’ll be more the card they’ll play to hang on in there, not really attacking but staying in the front group as best he can for the finish and not have to pull too much or anything like that,” explains Geraint. “I think Thor will be the more likely to attack and to be in the front five or six up the road.”
Nick Nuyens of Saxo Bank-SunGard may have surprised many by winning the Tour of Flanders last Sunday, but Geraint had seen first-hand how dangerous he is in the Classics when finishing second to the Belgian after the pair were involved in a two-man breakaway in last months Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
While Nuyens, who isn’t down to ride Paris-Roubaix, is the Danish outfit’s main Classics specialist following the departure of Cancellara to Leopard-Trek, Geraint says to look beyond the team leaders in completing your line-up.
“You should look at those riders who are in top teams but not necessarily the lead rider, as we saw with Sylvain Chavanel last week [although the Frenchman isn’t currently scheduled to ride at the weekend] or Stuart O’Grady,” he says.
“Those kind of riders, two or three of them may look at each other if they get the chance to attack 60 or 70km out, and if they get a couple of minutes that could be really hard to bring back.
“Then maybe Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen or Juan Antonio Flecha could get across to them and the winner might come from that,” he adds. “So that sort of rider is one to watch out for, certainly.
While Alessandro Ballan appears in decent form, and has picked up points for those who chose him in Flanders and at Milan-San Remo, the BMC team as a whole was looking strong last Sunday, a fact not lost on Geraint.
“I think any of the BMC guys, Stuart O’Grady, Heinrich Haussler or Lars Boom or one of the other Rabobank riders might be a good pick,” he says, “that type of rider who is not really a favourite and might be given that bit of freedom. People like my team mate Ian Stannard, too.”
If you haven’t already signed up, don’t worry, you can do so here, and while you’ll be playing a bit of catch-up for the overall there will also be a prize of a £600 Cycles Evans voucher for the most consistent team.
That’s based on the average of your best 45 stage scores, and of course there will also be standalone competitions for each of the three Grand Tours, with some great bikes up for grabs thanks to Evans Cycles.
Remember to check your team!
Click here to check your team ahead of the start on Sunday! Make sure you have nine riders selected and remember, riders whose names are in grey are not on the start list.