Stannard well prepared for Roubaix test

11 Apr 2018

Stannard well prepared for Roubaix test

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Ian Stannard is hoping his winter preparations pay dividends at Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix.

Roubaix is the race the 30 year old dreams of winning and Stannard mixed up his early-season this year, in an attempt to improve upon his third place in 2016.

Stannard opted to stay in Europe rather than head to Australia for the Tour Down Under, joining the team’s Mallorca training camp before tackling the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Paris-Nice.
 
That’s on top of a more regimented off-season, which ‘Yogi’ believes has made a difference.
 
Speaking to TeamSky.com, he said: “November and December were a lot more structured in terms of hours on the bike, but I’ve also incorporated a lot of gym work as well, which I think has made a big difference. Acceleration-wise I’ve been a bit more punchy which you need for these races.
 
“I was hoping it would pay off, but it doesn’t look like it has yet!” laughs Stannard, who has endured a tough Classics campaign thus far, with illness ruling him out of E3 Harelbeke, before bad luck at key moments ever since.
 
“I was ill for E3, then I felt good at Gent-Wevelgem actually, but I had a couple of bike problems and it cost me everything to chase back on when the race was going so hard. I was on a bad day at Dwars door Vlaanderen and then at Flanders I didn’t feel super from the start, so I told the guys and helped them get to the important bits. Then I had a broken wheel and then crashed, and that was it for me. It’s been disappointing so far - but hopefully I can put things right for Roubaix.
 
“In January I was feeling really good on the bike after all the work I’d put in across November and December. At the start of January that was really starting to pay off and I was really looking forward to the Classics, so I’m a little bit disappointed with my form. I feel like it’s a bit of an unknown going into Roubaix.”
Stannard has changed his race programme from recent years as he prepares for Paris-Roubaix

Stannard has changed his race programme from recent years as he prepares for Paris-Roubaix

But if there’s a race that suits Stannard, it’s Roubaix: “It’s a pan flat race and I haven’t got to worry about getting up a cobbled hill! If anything suits me the most it’s riding hard on the flat, so I’ve got that in my favour.”
 
Also in his favour is the boost of having old friends Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe alongside him on Sunday. Thomas has found space in his race programme to return to Roubaix after missing it in 2017, while Rowe has battled back from injury way ahead of schedule in time for the Hell of the North.
 
“G is an awesome asset to have,” continued Stannard. “It’s a bit like bringing Kwiato in for Flanders last week - you know he can go deep into the race and race hard. He loves it.
 
“And it’s impressive to think about six months ago, you hear that Luke could potentially never ride his bike again, to it will be a good year before he comes back, and then I shared a room with him at training camp and he was saying he didn’t know when he’d start racing. Next thing you know, he’s at the Classics. It’s really amazing.
 
“It shows the power of his mind to come back - and come back better. It’s impressive, that’s for sure. And I love racing with Luke. It’s nice to have someone that thinks in the same way as me - I think we race in a very similar kind of way.”
Stannard spent time at the Roubaix Velodrome ahead of Sunday's race

Stannard spent time at the Roubaix Velodrome ahead of Sunday's race

‘Yogi’ returned to the Roubaix Velodrome this week, scene of his sprint to third in 2016, as part of a team group ride with two local junior clubs - an experience that had him thinking back to his own junior days.
 
“I always remember when I was out in Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games [in 2004] and I saw Bradley McGee out on his bike through Melbourne. We chased after him down the road and it was so cool to see a pro! Hopefully those young juniors had that same feeling getting to ride with some pros on Monday.
 
“It’s quite easy to forget, working your way up to WorldTour level, what those feelings are like to be young and see pros - that whole experience. Hopefully they had a really great day.”
 
And did the 30 year old find his mind wandering back to that dramatic sprint finish on the Velodrome two years ago?
 
“Not really. I know I did everything I could that day. I left it all out on the road. It’s more thinking about next time and this Sunday coming up.”
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