OK, for all of my millions of fans who do not regularly follow the pro cycling scene, tomorrow at about 0400 Mnt Time, the greatest one day race begins. The Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix is the ultimate test of suffering over 27 sections of ancient cobblestone roads for 256 kms. A strongman's race, P-R has produced some of cycling most memorable moments. At times the peloton will be strung-out over many kilometres as speeds with rise over 50 kph. If it rains (or snows!), the roads will turn into a quagmire for ankle-deep muck that will break all but the most dedicated of racers. If it is dry, the clouds of dust will choke all but those at the very front. Needless to say, it will suck for the pros. But that will make great racing for the fans. Rabid drunken fans.
Last year's victor, Fabian "Spartacus" Cancellara will remain the favourite to win with heavy rivals being Tom Boonen, Heinrich Haussler, Baden Cooke, and big George Hincapie. Other hopefuls include other strongment, Thor Hushovod, Roger Hammond, and Tyler Farrar - all teammates of Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo). Also we have Juan Antonio Flecha, Boy-Wonder, Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, and the old man of the sprint crew Robbie McEwan. Actually anything can happen at P-R, and that is part of the magic.
Of note, we have three Canadians in the race tomorrow - veteran Michael Barry will be expected to keep Flecha clear of danger for Team Sky, David Veilleux will be riding for Team Europcar, and most exciting!!!! Dominique Rollin is the only non-Frenchman (barely as a Quebecois) on FdJ. The Domster has the ability to be an outside surprise as he performs in bad weather. At the 2008 Tour of California, he out muscled a chasing peloton in harsh rains to take the win. So Rollin is my long-shot prediction, with Spartacus repeating if the contenders make the race.
For news on the race, see http://www.cyclingnews.com/paris-roubaix
For live Internet video, see http://www.cyclingfans.com/node/1816
Everybody, enjoy the pain!