PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Despite crashing during Wednesday's Ghent-Wevelgem, defending Paris-Roubaix champion Magnus Backstedt will start in Compigne on Sunday despite worries on Friday that his wrist injury would prevent him defending his crown.
Speaking exclusively to procycling at his hotel in Chantilly, Backstedt was optimistic about his chances of doing well. "I'm definitely going to give it a shot," the Swede said. "We're just going to have to strap it up pretty heavily and then see how it goes.
"To put it mildly, Paris-Roubaix isn't really the race where you want to be riding with an injured wrist! What I'm hoping will happen, though - and I don't really know how to explain this - is that I'll take some really big hits on it early on, and it will be enough pain to make it go kind of numb. A bit like when you crash; you jump back on your bike straight away, and you only really start hurting once you get back to the hotel later on," Backstedt explained.
Despite the injury, the Liquigas-Bianchi rider still managed to get out for some light training on Saturday morning. "I did two and a half hours, and felt OK - sort of. But I didn't ride any cobbled sections - just stayed on the road."
Asked whether he would prefer a wet or dry race - and those in the know are forecasting rain - Backstedt replied: "I've always said I prefer it in the wet - that's what Paris-Roubaix is all about, with the mud, the drama... But of course, last year I won in the dry, plus a dry race would probably make things easier on the wrist. You almost float across the cobbles at 40-45kph when it's dry, whereas when it's wet and you have to go slower, and you hit every stone."
Backstedt's principal rivals will be last weekend's Tour of Flanders winner Tom Boonen and former Roubaix winner Peter van Petegem of Davitamon-Lotto, "but I think I also need to look out for Fabian Cancellara and Juan Antonio Flecha (both Fassa Bortolo), plus you should never forget Henk Vogels. He's coming back now, and he loves this race."
If he doesn't win on Sunday, will Backstedt seek out new goals? "Nope - this is the race for me; this is my race. It always has been from when I first saw it, and then when I rode it for the first time in 1998, I knew that I wanted to win it one day," Backstedt stated.
"I'm not that interested in trying to set a record for the biggest number of wins or anything, though; each year is a new year, and I'll try as hard every time to win," said Backstedt.
"But there's pressure on me as the defending champion, and a lot of that pressure comes from myself. Despite the injury, you can be sure I'm going to be giving it 110 per cent..."