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16 May 2019 10:27

Milan–San Remo Sanremo Racing

Luke Rowe riding high on confidence ahead of Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix

Luke Rowe says he is feeling as strong as he ever has, adding that he believes he is capable of providing Team Sky with a first win at tomorrow's Tour of Flanders or at next Sunday's Paris-Roubaix if he rides the perfect race and "Lady Luck" is on his side. Rowe finished fifth at the Tour of Flanders in 2016 - still Team Sky's best ever result in the race, which is the second monument of the season - but has suffered wretched luck since. I did a strong Paris-Nice and [Milan-] San Remo and a few good races here in Belgium. WAREGEM, Belgium (VN) — Cycling's holy week is upon us, and in the next 10 days the world's best classics riders will bounce over the cobblestones at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Flanders, meanwhile, serves up painful, leg-cracking climbs across an unending series of narrow, winding roads.

So, I conducted another highly unscientific poll at E3 Binck Bank Classic, Gent-Wevelgem, and Dwars Door Vlaanderen to better understand how the pro riders compare Flanders to Roubaix. We've all seen those iconic images of exhausted riders, coated with mud and dust, as they pedal over the Roubaix velodrome to finish the race best known as the "Hell of the North." Paris-Roubaix dishes out more than 50 kilometers of cobblestone roads that are so rough and uneven, that simply holding onto one's handlebars is a challenge. Unsurprisingly, my poll delivered a near-unanimous answer when I asked which race delivers the most physical punishment and suffering. "From the abuse it gives to your body, it's definitely Roubaix," said Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain-Merida). Now, riders did say that Flanders presents a tougher physiological test, since the speed of the peloton is so uneven across the many bergs dotting the course. We journalists often gush about the otherworldly fan experience you find at the Tour of Flanders, which is born from a magical combination of bergs, bikes, and lots of high-ABV beer. The Tour of Flanders has the best ambiance. "I think there is nothing that can beat Flanders," said Dutch rider Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma). There is a crazy crowd at the start and finish, and also on the roads where you see lines of two or three people at every point of the race. At the Tour of Flanders, by contrast, the riders slog their way up the steep bergs while fans cheer them on. "In Belgium, you have this weeklong build-up, with De Panne, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars Door Vlanderen, and then you get to the big one with Flanders," said Owain Doull (Sky). However, more riders felt that the Tour of Flanders produced the most challenging race tactics. Riders felt that Paris-Roubaix was most often won by the strongest and toughest rider in the race, while Flanders required more race craft and teamwork to win. "It's certainly Flanders because of the roads," said Ian Stannard (Sky). There was a near-unanimous answer to this question: Paris-Roubaix. The Tour of Flanders may have the crowds, bergs, and beer, but Roubaix has the history, the mythology, and more buzz. The only rider who listed Flanders as his answer was Vandenbergh, who hails from Oudenaarde, site of the Flanders finish line. Many riders traced their love of Paris-Roubaix back to their experiences as a cycling fan. "Since I was a kid I always watched Roubaix, it was the one race I really liked," said Michael Schar (CCC Team). Tour de Flanders crash leaves Niki Terpstra with head trauma and out of Paris-Roubaix Direct-Energie's Niki Terpstra will not start in Paris-Roubaix. The Dutch rider suffered a crash that took him out of the Tour of Flanders.The Classic specialist was caught in a mass crash at 160 kilometres from the finish at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The Dutchman was the most affected of the riders that were involved in the fall and had to be taken by ambulance straight away to be checked of his injuries at the hospital.The French team, which he joined at the start of 2019, announced via Twitter that Terpstra suffered a head traumatism and he lost consciousness at the moment of the crash. The doctors of Direct-Energie also confirmed that the rider won't be able to be at the start line of Paris-Roubaix, which is set to the on the 14th of April.The crash stopped the Dutchman to defend the title of the Tour of Flanders that he got in 2018 or go back to fight for Paris-Roubaix' title, a race he also won in 2014. Italian Alberto Bettiol won the gruelling Tour of Flanders on Sunday, riding home alone for a maiden career victory after breaking away with 18 kilometres to go. Bettiol, a 25-year-old who rides for American team EF First Education, attacked on the approach to the third and final ascent of the Oude Kwaremont. "I was feeling really good, Andreas Klier told me: 'if you can go, go'," said Bettiol. Dutchman Terpstra hit the tarmac with several other riders 160km from the finish and was knocked unconscious. His Direct Energie team said he had been taken to hospital and that, because he had been unconscious for more than two minutes, doctors ruled him out of the next cycling monument, Paris-Roubaix in seven days' time. Andrea Tafi's dream of riding Paris-Roubaix on the 20th anniversary of his victory is over after he crashed in a local race near his home in Tuscany and fractured his left collarbone. Bettini questions Tafi's plans to ride 2019 Paris-Roubaix Dimension Data 'guarantee' Tafi will not race Paris-Roubaix with them Tafi sets February deadline to find a team for Paris-Roubaix Tafi won Paris-Roubaix in 1999 and announced in October that he was looking for a professional team that would give him a place on their roster just for this year's Hell of the North. Speaking to Cyclingnews on Saturday, Tafi revealed that the UCI and Paris-Roubaix organiser ASO had agreed to let him ride a few minutes ahead of the race. "Perhaps I wasn't destined to ride Paris-Roubaix one last time. He does not need surgery but with Paris-Roubaix just a month away, the fracture will not heal in time to ride across the rough pave of northern France. Some former teammates had questioned Tafi's desire to race Paris-Roubaix at the age of 52, doubting that he could even stay in the peloton or reach the finish in the Roubaix velodrome. I just wanted to race for one more day and celebrate everything that is good about cycling and show to everyone that we can ride and race even when we're over 40. I'll still be at the start of Paris-Roubaix and will always ride my bike once I'm recovered.