Eschewing the warm weather training many of his peers go for, Roubaix champion Magnus Backstedt is g
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt is well into his preparation for the defence of his ‘Hell of the North’ title. The Wales-based Swede, who will be riding for the new Liquigas-Bianchi team in the ProTour next season, is aiming to put up a strong defence of his cobbled Classic crown and put his injury-hit end to last season behind him. “I am looking for a full season in 2005, with my main aims being the spring Classics, defending my Roubaix title and adding to my 1998 Tour de France stage win.” Although Backstedt readily admits that victory at Roubaix was one of the highlights of his career, a subsequent back injury caused which was the result of an innocuous-looking crash took some of the shine off his season. The crash caused some of the Swede’s abdominal muscles to shut down, but the problem has now been rectified after gym work this winter. Backstedt has also been busy on the boards of the UK’s tracks. The 29 year old is keen to establish himself as a track rider and to promote the benefit it gives to his road racing. Living just a few miles from the Newport velodrome in Wales, he is a regular there both for training and racing. A couple of weekends ago, he appeared at the Revolution 6 meeting in Manchester, where he mixed it with some of the world’s top track riders. After teaming up with fellow Scandinavian Jimmi Madsen in Manchester and taking second place in the Madison behind the winter’s top Six-Day performers, Robert Slippens and Danny Stam, Backstedt will be back on the boards at the Rotterdam Six in the new year. That appearance will be his last big track outing before heading out to the Tour of Qatar and then starting on full ProTour programme leading up to the Tour de France in July.