American Taylor Phinney will not start Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, still feeling the effects of a concussion sustained in a fall during the Tour of Flanders.
“Until this yesterday, I was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to ride Roubaix this weekend,” Phinney said. “I’d been feeling OK at the dinner table and hanging out. But then yesterday was my first ride outside. I started riding at got a little bit of a headache. Then it went away and I thought, ‘ok, I’ll be fine.’ But then it came back and I started experiencing some emotional ups and down that reminded me of the last concussion I had.”
Upon his return, Phinney and team management made the decision to skip Roubaix.
“With even the mildest of concussions, we sit the rider six days,” said team manager Jonathan Vaughters. “The rider may be able to train some in that period, but racing is out of the question. Normally we encourage training to occur on the Tacx. We evaluate the rider daily, and after six days he must take a cognitive test to make sure the effects of the concussion have subsided. At that point, they may or may not be able to resume competition.”
The omission of the classic most suited to Phinney stings, but he’s already looking forward to the Amgen Tour of California and the opening stage of the Tour de France.
“I’m frustrated. I’ve been nursing myself this whole classics season to get into these races and be with the guys,” Phinney said. “But this just happens. This happened my first season as a pro, but then I ended up having a pretty nice second part of the season. On the positive end, I’m more motivated. I feel more motivated than I have in a long time to put in effort for the summer. I look forward to the Tour of California and the first stage of the Tour de France. These things excite me.”
Van Baarle, Langeveld to lead charge
The team also lost Sep Vanmarcke — three times a top-five finisher in the Roubaix Velodrome — to injuries the Belgian suffered at Flanders, forcing late roster changes and a shuffling of strategy.
Paddy Bevin and Wouter Wippert got late call-ups, and will join Dylan van Baarle, Sebastian Langeveld, Will Clarke, Tom Scully, Tom Van Asbroeck and Ryan Mullen at the start. And although the losses of Vanmarcke and Phinney present challenges, the team isn’t lacking opportunity. Van Baarle finished fourth Sunday, and Langeveld displayed excellent form until a late mechanical.
“I think we proved last week with Dylan that we can do well regardless. Last week we raced for the podium, and it would have been the same with Sep,” sport director Ken Vanmarcke said. “This race suits Dylan maybe better than the Tour of Flanders. The same with Sebastian. He has so much experience and he’s in really good shape.”
For Van Baarle, Roubaix is another chance to build on a classics foundation he’s crafting stone by stone.
“We have to go with the same mindset as we did the other classics. We have still a very strong team and I think we can still do something in France,” Van Baarle said. “Normally I would say Flanders suits me better, but in Flanders on the steep climbs I struggled a little. Maybe this year Roubaix suits me better. Last year I felt good, but I was behind some crashes and I was always racing from the back. If that doesn’t happen this year, then we can have a good result I think.”
Langeveld will be making his tenth start at Paris-Roubaix, while Scully and Bevin make their debut. What’s Langeveld been telling the rookies?
“Go in there open minded. Tire pressure is a discussion or issue. They key thing is the same as all the classics — knowledge of the parcours, positioning at the right moment. That’s the most important thing for everybody,” Langeveld said. “Flanders is also an endurance race, but Roubaix… without bad luck and with a little bit of condition and form, everyone arrives where they belong. Without bad luck, it’s a really honest race.
“Missing Sep, it’s a big loss,” Langeveld admitted. “But we showed in Flanders that we are, as a team, we’re fit. Everybody made a big improvement compared to last year. I had a mechanical in Flanders. I was on a good day. So… I’m confident that Dylan and I will be up there. The way we’re going to race? We have to see what the wind does. It’s Boonen’s last Roubaix, that could be a factor on the strategy when you have a whole team riding for him like Quick-Step. But we’ve got to wait until Saturday to talk tactics.”
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Paris-Roubaix departs Compiegne at 10:55am CET (2:55am MDT) and is expected finish on the Roubaix Velodrome around 5:10pm CET (9:10am CET). Select broadcasters will show the race in its entirety including the NBC Sports via the NBC Sports Gold App. Additional broadcasters include Eurosport, SBS, Sporza, RAI Sport, etc.
Cannondale-Drapac for Paris-Roubaix:
Paddy Bevin (NZL)
Will Clarke (AUS)
Tom Scully (NZL)
Sebastian Langeveld (NDL)
Ryan Mullen (IRL)
Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL)
Dylan Van Baarle (NDL)
Wouter Wippert (NDL)