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Intermarché-Circus-Wanty has faith in its young talents

The 120th edition of Paris-Roubaix will be held this Sunday, on a nearly unmodified course compared to last year, when Intermarché-Circus-Wanty made history by finishing with six riders in the top 23.

On Thursday and Friday the selection of the Walloon World Team based in Tournai did the recon of the final 160 kilometer, covering all 30 cobble sections. The seven riders were accompanied by Thijs Aerts, Axel Huens and Gerben Kuypers from Circus-ReUz-Technord.

Sunday, the riders will start at 11 o’clock in Compiègne and will enter the first cobble section after 100 kilometer. The main change is sector 21 towards Haspres, halfway through the race, before reaching the traditional parcours.

The sectors with five stars or with the highest difficulty are spread in the final 95 kilometer: Trouée d’Arenberg (19), Mons-en-Pévèle (11) and Carrefour de l’Arbre (4). The climax from this mythical classic is after 256 kilometer on the velodrome in Roubaix.

The selection of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty contains a former winner of the U23 version of Hell of North, Mike Teunissen. The Dutchman participated in each edition since 2016, finishing three times in the top 20 with seventh place in 2019 as his best result..

Baptiste Planckaert was one of the riders contributing to the collective succes of the team of Jean-François Bourlart last season. He also finished nineteenth of his debut in the hellish October edition of 2021 by accompanying the best riders for a long time, just like Laurenz Rex, who ended 21st at the age of just 21.

Other young talents Dries De Pooter, Julius Johansen, Madis Mihkels and Gerben Thijssen will discover Paris-Roubaix for the first time. For the three last named riders it is even the first participation to a cycling Monument. The team will be directed by Aike Visbeek, Steven De Neef, Hilaire Van der Schueren and Bart Wellens.

« Since I started cycling, Paris-Roubaix has always been my dream race. In the junior category I received the opportunity to get a taste of Hell of North and I finished 22nd. A couple of years later we planned my first participation to this Monument with the team. For us it seemed like a logical step for a rider with my profile. Several Danish riders with similar physical capabilities had succes in this race in the past. Usually I play a support role in the sprint train of Gerben Thijssen. I'm happy to make my debut on the cobbles of this mythical race together with him. »

« It is my first Monument and consequently the first time I participate in such a long race. The distance doesn't frighten me, in contrary, I like long efforts. I'm curious to discover how my body will react to the succession of cobble sections. After our first recon on Thursday I was in a state of fatigue similar to how I feel after a race. I had a good feeling on the bike and I was confident in my skills on this particular road surface. I hope to get the same feeling on Sunday. »

« It will be an interesting day for our team, because we will have a particularly young team at the start. We'll have to be creative in terms of tactics to achieve the best possible result. In my opinion most of us will have to try to break away and anticipate. We've seen in the Tour of Flanders how ridiculously hard the final was. Paris-Roubaix is known for the good chances for the early breakaway to reach the deep final. For me, anticipating would be a perfect scenario. Even though I'm really looking forward to it, I expect the race to be like hell. It is not a coincidence that this is the nickname of this mythical classic. »

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