Our men’s and women’s teams approach the cobbled classics full of motivation after a successful build-up.
The jumbled 2020 season will certainly look strange in years to come with the Tour de France raced in September, before the ‘Spring’ Classics. For leaders Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen, a tough yet successful Tour laid the foundations of form ahead of the eagerly-awaited cobbled campaign. Stuyven showed his strength throughout the Tour, racking up five top-10 results, including third on the classic-esque Stage 18 to Champagnole.
Meanwhile, after winning a stage from a bunch sprint at the Tour de Pologne, Pedersen went on to solidify himself as a serious sprinting talent. The Dane bookended his Tour de France with two second-place finishes before going on to win Stage 3 at the BinckBank Tour, and he nearly pulled off the overall win.
It now seems forever ago, but back in February Stuyven showed he has the pedigree to win big after taking a stunning victory at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, the first cobbled classic of the season. He’ll go into the upcoming one-day races as one of the favorites, as will teammate Pedersen.
The cancellation of the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix, whilst unsurprising, is a big disappointment for the team, the fans, and the sport of cycling. We are looking forward to racing across the treacherous pave next spring.
Jasper Stuyven: “I’m definitely looking forward to the classics. Of course, it’s been a challenging year, but I don’t feel like I’m lacking motivation, not at all. The few classics we already raced presented good results and it was really nice to see after that the team continued really well. We had a good vibe in Poland with a stage win, the Tour was going well with the classics guys, and of course with the GC. I was really happy to see a large part of our classics group go for it in the BinckBank Tour where the weather was also not ideal. I feel like we are on a good vibe once again and everyone is reaching the level they want to be at. It makes me excited, motivated, but also curious of what the classics will bring. I actually hope to be able to put in a good performance with the team and I hope that we have good fun combined with the results that I’m pretty confident we will be able to achieve with the team we have and my personal feeling.”
“It’s definitely a big disappointment that Roubaix is canceled. We kind of saw it coming and it didn’t look good, but we were hoping that without spectators and with extra rules we would still be able to do it because it’s a beautiful race. There’s nothing we can change; it’s a decision of the health authority and we have to accept it.
“In our team we really like that race and we were looking forward to having it as the last race of the season. At the moment it’s a bit of a blow, but at least we were able to do a recon and try out our wonderful new Trek Domane. We went to the velodrome but of course, we wish we could go back there to really race there. Let’s look forward to 2021 Roubaix and try to make the best of the other races left and end with a high.”
Mads Pedersen: “A couple of days ago we did the recon of Flanders and now we have the set up for the bikes and wheels of those races. Now it’s really coming close to the races we like to do. The shape is still good from the Tour and BinckBank also, I think my coach did a great job to keep my level high. I’m really happy with the shape now and I’m really looking forward to the cobbles, starting with Gent – Wevelgem on Sunday. Hopefully we can do something special. As I said, my shape is good, but Jasper and Edward are also doing well. Ryan and Alex were great at BinckBank, so it looks promising for us, we have a strong team and hopefully we can do something nice in the next two weeks. We are aiming for good results and to finish off this special season with a bang and hopefully we end up with a victory.”
We enter the final part of the season as the top-ranked UCI team and with great excitement after a solid block of racing which brought some fantastic victories. The last couple of months have shown the depth of the squad with multiple riders taking wins, and on each occasion demonstrating a great team performance to achieve the result. In particular, Lizzie Deignan, Elisa Longo Borghini, Ellen van Dijk and Audrey Cordon-Ragot have achieved some stand-out results in the second half of the season and are all suited to the tough style of racing expected at the classics.
Deignan is currently on fire after taking three one-day race wins since the resumption of the season. The former world champion attributes the success to the team ethos of not being afraid of failure, allowing her and the rest of the team to race aggressively for the win. Most recently, the Brit won Liège – Bastogne – Liège after a thrilling solo attack 30km from the finish. Deignan can already count one victory at the Tour of Flanders on her palmarès but would love to add another victory at her favorite race.
Lizzie Deignan: “I think the whole team is really excited about the cobbled classics. We have a strong team and we’ve already shown that at many races this season. Particularly at the cobbled classics, I think you need to have numbers in the final to have the best chance of winning, and I think we’ll have quite a few cards to play which will be exciting. Personally, I’m very motivated to try and win again, the classics are my favorite races. The Tour of Flanders has always been my favorite so I’m particularly motivated about that and really looking forward to it.”
Ellen van Dijk is another rider who feels at home on the cobbles and has racked up several classics wins over her career. The time trial specialist recently earned a bronze medal at the TT World Championships, and silver in the same discipline at the European Championships. She would have been one of the top favorites for the inaugural Paris – Roubaix but will have to wait until spring 2021 to take on the infamous Hell of the North. Ellen’s strength in one-day races and ability to go for long-range attacks adds a valuable option for Trek-Segafredo for the classics.
Ellen van Dijk: “I’m very excited to race the cobbled classics with the team. These are my favorite kind of races and in this team it’s even more fun. We always have an aggressive racing style, because we have so many good riders. Everyone is still very motivated, so I’m looking forward to playing the game together. However, I’m very disappointed that Paris – Roubaix is cancelled. It was my main objective and I was very excited about this new race for us. Of course, the health of people is priority number one, so I understand the decision. I’m already looking forward to April 2021!”