Once again, the Paris-Roubaix is upon us. On Sunday, 10 April, 25 teams will line-up for the 114th edition of the “Hell of the North” and our African Team will also be there, ready to take on this mythical monument of professional cycling.
257km await the riders, 52.8km of them will be over the 27 different cobble sectors on route. With the first sector only coming 98km into the race, the final 3 hours of the race are set to be drama filled. Add into the equation the possibility of rain come Sunday, and you have all the makings of an epic spring classic.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will start with a strong and confident team, which has spent the last number of weeks racing the Belgian cobbled classic’s together. Edvald Boasson Hagen will be our key rider for Paris-Roubaix and he will be able to count on the support from Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, Tyler Farrar, Matt Brammeier and our 3 South African strongmen, Jay Thomson, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Nic Dougall. It will also be Dougall’s debut appearance at Paris-Roubaix.
While the Trouée d’Arenberg (with 95km to go, 2.4km long), Mons-en-Pévele (46km to go, 3km long) and Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (15km to go, 2.1km long) are 3 of the most revered cobble sectors in the race, the unpredictable nature of the Hell of the North means riders will have to be attentive for the full 257km. The only real certainty is that Sunday’s race will be one of the toughest physical and mental challenges in world sport.
Nic Dougall – Rider
I rode the cobbles for the first time on Thursday and it’s nothing like I have ever ridden on before. It is unbelievably rough, it’s like holding onto a jack hammer. It is even harder than I thought it was going to be so Sunday is going to be a really tough race especially if it’s going to be a bit wet and muddy but I am looking forward to it. I’m really excited because we have such a great team here with a lot of experience so it’s a good opportunity for me to learn. We will be racing for Edvald, he has shown that he is super strong this year and he has some really good form at the moment. We are all in for him, these races sort of have pinch points where if you are well positioned in the front and you have the legs you can race from there. Our job is to put him as far forward in the bunch at those key points and the rest is up to him and what he can do with his legs, which I’m sure will be great.
Rolf Aldag – Head of Performance
This will be the first Paris-Roubaix for Nic Dougall and you can see how he is in to it already with the equipment and the recon and I think he is really looking forward to it. That makes him an extremely valuable part of the team. His emotions will really drive the whole team and inspire them because Sunday requires a full team effort. Nic is the perfect team player, he has shown in the last few weeks how much he can deliver by keeping the key guys in front, covering early breakaways and always being present. That’s why it is so important to have these types of riders. As a team we have Edvald here as our leader and he has all our support, we believe in his talent and we know he can do it. The result is just super difficult to predict because with Paris-Roubaix a lot of things can happen and a lot of things will happen. You just have to be good enough and lucky, and that combination only works for one guy and he is going to be the winner. Hopefully it does come together for us, it is very difficult to predict results but we know as a team with Edvald, Tyler and Mark we will play a role.