L’Enfer du Nord, Hell of the North, this year offers 30 cobbled sectors over 54.8 kilometers. The famous cobbled streets of Paris-Roubaix are made for Mathieu van der Poel. With these special challenges, the 27-year-old can “fully exploit his cross-country background”, says Jens Voigt in an interview with Eurosport.de.
The four-time world cross champion from the Netherlands is seen as a hot candidate to succeed Sonny Colbrelli, who triumphed in the 2021 classic, which is one of cycling’s five landmarks.
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- Tip: Paris-Roubaix on April 17 from 10:30 a.m. live on free TV on Eurosport 1 and on Eurosport on Joyn
A record shared by Voigt, especially since Politt is “adapted in terms of the type of driver” to the showdown in northern France. However, the Eurosport expert doesn’t think it’s a good idea that the famous cobbled sections are also included in the Tour de France route this year.
Tobias Laure conducted the interview
When the chase through the cobbled streets of northern France begins on Sunday, there seems to be no escaping heavy favorite Mathieu van der Poel.
Jens Voigt: Yes, it looks a lot like it. Mathieu can fully exploit his crossed course at Paris-Roubaix. It does not matter whether it is dry or rainy, it adapts very well to all conditions. He is undoubtedly the man to beat.
The only question is who is capable of this?
See: There is one candidate: Mads Pedersen of the Trek-Segafredo team. The Dane will drive very well, was world champion in 2019 and has just gained a lot of confidence. At the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, he won two of the first three stages. He finished eighth in the Tour of Flanders – and Paris-Roubaix suits him better. Pedersen will be on the front line.
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With Tadej Pogacar, one of the biggest names skips Paris-Roubaix. Reproducible?
See: Don’t forget that Tadej has already triumphed at the UAE Tour, Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico this season. The man has been gone for a while. He has a very good year and then there is always the temptation to say: “Come on, one more will do. And suddenly you are there and you realize that there is not much time left before the Tour de France. The old saying goes, “Plan your work and execute your plan.” I think he was expected to be in good shape and then sidelined to rebuild in May. Pogacar and the United Arab Emirates team should stay. If he runs anywhere, he is one of the contenders for victory, and that was also the case in the Tour of Flanders. Tadej was where he needed to be just before the final. However, he was unlucky in the sprint. I think it was broken otherwise it would have picked up sooner or circled the outside. It is therefore completely understandable that he is breathing now.
Seven years have now passed since the success of John Degenkolb, that’s a long time. Nevertheless, I say: third to sixth place is possible, a top ten result would also be great.
Wout Van Aert, meanwhile, is on the starting list, although the decision to participate has not yet been made. The Belgian was struggling with corona disease until recently. Would an ordeal like Paris-Roubaix be too risky?
What can we expect from a German point of view? With John Degenkolb, winner in 2015, and Nils Politt, second in 2019, there are drivers who love racing.
See: Nils knows how to do it. Moreover, he is in a form where he can say: “I want to be in front. I think his type of driver is suited to Roubaix. It might be worth keeping an eye out for Nils during the race. It’s been seven years since John’s success, long. Nevertheless, I say: third to sixth place is possible, a top ten result would also be great. But everything has to fit. John has to find the right band, it has to work for him.
Pascal Ackermann will probably be the bodyguard for the others for the first 200 to 220 kilometers. But he can learn and maybe next year insist on his right to get a result.
German fans will also be very attentive to Pascal Ackermann and Nikias Arndt.
See: Yes, just understand the roles. The UAE Team Emirates will be primarily interested in Ackermann’s big engine. With Matteo Trentin, Mikkel Bjerg or Vegard Stake Laengen, they have people in the team who are ahead of Pascal in the standings. You will therefore certainly not allow him to drive for his own account. Ackermann will probably be the bodyguard for the others for the first 200 to 220 kilometers. But he can learn and maybe next year insist on his right to get a result. Arndt is not yet a winning driver but has delivered strong performances this season. He was ahead in the races.
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