Why 2011 will be another epic Paris Roubaix.
Its a little over 8 weeks away before the 2011 Paris Roubaix but I'm already eager and anxious to see how the race will unfold. I think it will be a largely epic battle this year, because of Hincapie and other really hungry teams wanting to solidify their mark on the peloton. I think it will be Hincapie's last attempt, so he'll be very aggressive near the front. But he's such a marked man, similar to Tom Boonen in that every strong rider will try to go with him. They both will have to come up with an extradorindary untimely launch, similar to the days of Wampers, Madiot, or Duclos-Lasalle, if they want to be victorious. Hincapie never has a strong supporting cast and I think that has always been his downfall. Maybe when he had the chance he should have signed with Mapei or was it Quick Step ?
Its been a long time since I've witnessed such stacked teams who can control the race. I think the most memorable team dominance was back in '96 with Mapei earning the top 3 spots on the podium. It will be an an epic battle between teams Garmin-Cervelo vs Leopard-Trek vs Quick Step. Who will it be ? Garmin-Cervelo have the current world champion Thor Hushvod, and his chief lieutenant Henrik Haussler providing back up support. Leopard-Trek have both former Roubaix winners in Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady and are stacked with back up talent in the likes of Jens Voigt and Jakob Fuslang. Quick Step have the legendary Tom Boonen and his very strong classic team.
These teams may mark each other all day, and if that happens, they risk having a lone rider slip away in the break. A rider like Juan Antonio Flecha or Michael Barry from Team Sky who I see as perfect candidates. They don't have such a strong supporting cast, but they are the type of rider who may be able to sneek away while the big favourites play their chess game. I'd love to see it happen.
Overall though, I have to give the advantage to Leopard Trek.