After predicting we'd see the only SRAM-using team in the World Tour, AG2R, on SRAM 1×11, I started to have my doubts as the days ticked by approaching tomorrow's Paris-Roubaix and I saw nothing. Well, I finally saw this photo from VeloNews of AG2R's star rider, Johann Vansummeren. Nobody seems to remember this guy won the race in 2011. Anyway, while I don't see his chainring, I clearly see shifting paddles on both brake levers. So it seems AG2R is going for a "little" ring, typically a 44, which they won't really use.
My picks for tomorrow remain:
- Bradley Wiggins: He's taken a very analytic approach to preparation, including extended time riding at the front in the races leading up to Paris Roubaix to build form. His approach has been extremely successful in the past, as he's accomplished pretty much everything so far he's sought to accomplish. He needs to arrive in the velodrome solo and that requires some team support but he has Garaent Thomas to sit in the chase group and counterattack if he's caught.
- John Degenkolb: He's proven to be better than Kristoff in Paris Roubaix and is young enough that you can expect him to improve this year, so if Wiggins isn't able to pull it off, my money's on Degenkolb for the win or to finish second in a group sprint in the Velodrome as he did last year.
- Zdeněk Štybar: he was riding very well in 2013 but had a late crash which cost him the chances at the win. Then last year his teammate Terpstra broke away and Stybar had to stay with the chase group. He won Strada Bianca this year and I think this is the year for him at Paris-Roubaix. Arguably Quickstep is going to bet on Terpstra instead so a lot depends on timing, on which rider is in a better position when the time comes. But I think this is Stybar's turn.
Anyway, I'll be doing a trail race in Woodside California so will miss the action. Instead I'll try to find a video via Steephill.tv's excellent "no spoiler" page and watch the final 10 km at least virtual live after I get back.