Written by Dan Kauffman of Hub City Cycling
The second Division 1 Classic of Season 47 takes place in "Cobblestone Heaven" or as it's often referred to in real life, "The Hell of the North." Is it, of course, northern France, where 249 kilometers of rough roads will challenge 24 teams and 144 riders to an endurance test unlike any other.
Legends of this event include Landon Naumann (three-time winner from Seasons 3-5), Julian Pope (three-time winner, Seasons 18, 20 and 27), Gaspar Sarrazin (repeat winner, Seasons 29-30), Lucas Loudon (three-time winner, Seasons 36, 38 and 43) and Tarjei Thorvaldsen (two-time winner, Seasons 41 and 44), who will try for his third title for Team Seidel. The defending champion is Riel Rubio of Aesop.
The Roubaix Classic profile features a 9 in CB, a 7 in TQ, a 6 in FR and a 4 in HL. For the strongest riders, I have included these ratings, in that order, in parenthesis. As always, I am writing these previews without knowledge of DP numbers or TF riders (although riders who have the TF symbol at the time of writing will be highlighted).
Let's break it down.
Rubio (85-64-52-32) will attempt to become the first repeat champion since Sarrazin, but it appears to be a longshot. He's the only strong cobbler on this squad (I don't know if that was the case as well last year), but he will get other help from Eld Al-Kheir (71 TQ, 67 FR) and Robin Piening (73 TQ, 64 FR)
AK PRO RACE
The top CB rider on this squad rates at 29. Maybe Egil Lobdell (72 FR, 71 HL) or Denis Buch (68 HL, 59 FR) can make something happen in a breakaway.
This squad brings five riders with serious CB chops. Xavier Morayta (90-71-57-55) warrants the captain's nod in top form and is a major threat. Shimojo Daisuke (96-47-51-28) may also be in top form. Christof Schroder (94-66-56-26) also is strong, while Albin Bartkowiak (85-70-34-46) and Jo Van de Goor (87-57-63-36) provide excellent support. While weak on cobbles, Marat Zhvikov is strong on FR (84).
This team has more mountain chops than cobbles chops, and the only chance for a result is a breakaway. Robert Reitan (71 HL, 62 TQ, 55 FR) is the top option to make that work.
Marcio Fialho (99-82-51-41) is a top contender for the title, although surprisingly he has never finished better than sixth here. Hans-Christian Thune (94-50-51-75) and Kirk Maley (83-77-54-61) are excellent in their own right. Kyllian Privat (79-47-75-28) and Ragn Breinholt (71-55-83-45) can handle the terrain just fine, and Bob Alards will lead the way over the hills (86).
The top choice on this squad
probably is Aureli Delon (88-75-51-27), with Huberto Tovar (90-53-68-30), Tavio Carrion (81-82-34-29), Yvan Van Bockorst (90-53-49-31) and Salomon Maalouf (75-38-72-26) providing the main support and Frederik Spoelberchs adding an 85 in TQ.
CYCLING TEAM FPS
Nobody on this squad is a good enough cobbles rider (or hills/breakaway specialist) to threaten a result.
Kadir Goncalves (88-69-83-27) is a serious contender who will get cobbles support from Iosif Petescu (97-54-40-72) and Donato Fannete (91-45-48-34). The non-cobble riders bring other attributes to the table, including Fitos Szabolcs (84 TQ, 66 HL), Ingar Saetre (81 TQ, 73 FR) and Jurgen Krohne (88 FR, 74 TQ).
Likely captain Eduard Gyulemetov (99-59-69-43) and No. 2 Niels Strom (97-50-49-34) lead this squad. Jeffrey Medford (88-37-75-25) and Florian De Vaddere (81-50-68-26) are good domestiques, and Ahmed Luyobo (78 FR, 63 TQ, 52 HL) and Homer Diaz (81 TQ, 71 HL) bring their own talents to the party.
EQUIPO EASY ON
This is a well-rounded squad that could make some noise, led by Richard San Nicolas (88-78-48-46) and Conway Ellyson (86-72-49-73) and supported by Egan Frank (86-61-59-26), Jerico Marti (88-32-36-62), Lynn Pieper (73-38-80-46) and Colin Carden (70-39-84-31).
Circle Alden Blair (90-67-77-31) as a top contender who may be in top form. He is supported by Thomas Van Espen (94-53-53-32), Guyuk Tsagaanlamyn (75-39-64-32), Robert Abbekerk (75-34-80-31), Arne van Amersfoort (74 HL, 72 FR) and Riccardo Glara (72 FR).
JONAS PRO CYCLING
The captain of this group will either be Miron Tredyakovsky (96-59-74-43) or Mats Bjelland (92-63-67-48). Whoever it is will have a good shot at a result. Popo Atusigila (81-71-57-27) is an excellent support rider, and additional help comes from Moises Lima (82 TQ, 71 FR), Lucas Massey (93 FR, 73 HL) and Gabriel Martinez (86 FR, 73 TQ).
No one on this squad ranks higher than a 37 in CB. They do have three hillers with a breakaway chance, in Borivoje Ziatkovic (84 HL, 63 FR), Coriolan Cazacu (78 HL, 68 FR) and Jon Ingvaldsen (76 HL, 55 FR).
KRV RAPID HABSBURG
This a training run for six younsters with no chance of contending.
MOVISTAR KELME TEAM
Fausto Ledesma (94-64-55-55) and Jean-Pierre Van Bockorst (84-72-64-45) are legit threats, with support from Nicholas Grossman (83 FR, 71 TQ), Ramon Lozano (77 FR, 76 TQ) and Georgio Felici (77 FR, 58 HL). I suspect Laurence Karcher (70 HL, 58 FR) will make a break for it.
Can a squad without any riders who score more than a 72 in combined CB + TQ get a result here? Probably not, even if Junior O'Grady (83 FR, 72 HL), Egerton Uxley (77 FR, 74 HL), Anze Hrovat (94 HL, 56 FR) and and top-form Igor Derzhavin (82 HL, 69 FR) are strong in other ways. Surely they will attempt a breakaway.
This is one of the strongest squads in the field, with five of the six riders having a CB score of 86 or higher. I could see the captainship going to any of three guys: Garth Yocum (99-60-51-39), Petter Nyland (95-59-76-32) or Bram Demouge (86-72-59-38). Joeri Bessing (92-60-55-28) and Feliciano Escrivia (94-53-48-55) are just a notch behind them, and Pieter Schiphouwer (72-56-75-33) rounds out the unit.
Mark Nepein has a 99 in CB but relatively poor peripherals. Samuel Gothe (85-57-59-27) probably has the better chance at a result. Morton Hamlyn (71 CB, 50 TQ) leds solid support.
With no rider scoring higher than a 28 in CB, odds are a result for this squad will come down to a breakaway chance. Alden Dymoke (75 HL) may be in top form as the best candidate.
Sonny Vahlberg (49-78-60-53) has the best cobble rating of this squad and the best chance to do anything, but he's still a longshot to grab a result. Gerhard Ober (88 HL) and Christoph Tomasson (83 HL, 66 FR) are the main breakaway threats. Freddie Krammer (86 TQ, 72 FR) can lend some help.
Thorvaldsen (80-88-63-32) will go hunting for his third title in this event, supported primarily by Harold Tshibwabwa (92-64-61-47), Serban Turcas (84-54-64-50) and Gideon Bavikin (82-66-64-30). Camillo Mader (81 FR, 70 HL) and Sigve Solberg (82 HL, 58 FR) will provide help on the hills.
TJ BANIK OKD
Anbessa Rosas (93-56-70-35), Viatko Cuckovic (85-43-73-28) and Manuele Saladino (72-65-82-33) form the backbone of this team. While the other three are weak cobblers, Rodrigo Solana (83 TQ) and Munsor Mendu (76 FR) have areas of expertise. Another solid flat-road engine, Xavier Mendes, is unfortunately injured.
Here's a squad I had never heard of, and it has some guys with some CB chops, though no top contenders due to weaker ratings in other areas. Still, Bradley Perrett (99-56-42-34), Ruben Park (98-40-54-62), James Loe (82-72-37-29) and Norm Deans (70-62-33-29) may be able to do enough to get a result, with additional help from Hayden Pongia (62 FR, 53 TQ, 51 HL).
(Note: As of this writing, only 23 teams had signed up. If/when a 24th team fills out the field, and if it warrants a look, I will add it in the comments and/or the forum post.)