Saturday, April 11, 2009

Maaskant On Form

Martijn Maskaant is undoubtedly on form for this years spring classics campaign finishing just off of the podium at Flanders behind heavy hitters Devolder(QuickStep), Haussler(Cervelo) and Gilbert(FDJ) while unfortunately missing the break at Ghent. The Garmin-Chipotle team has gone all in for the 2nd year PRO for this years Paris-Roubaix after he finished 4th in his Hell of the North debut last year.

Team Garmin-Slipstream will have no less than 6 bikes available to the 26 year old, as well as
mechanics and soigneurs offering up wheels at various points including the treacherous Forest of Arrenberg which offers up some of the worst pave' of the 259km parcours. The 107th edition of the race will serve up nearly 53kms of the slippery granite cobbles in 27 sectors along the route from Compiegne to the industrial town turned mecca of hardmen, Roubaix. While he may be young, he more than makes up for it with courage and guts beyond his years, and if his performance at Flanders last week in the horrible conditions is any indication, look for Maskaant to surprise the elder statesmen of the classics.

With teams like Quick Step packing a 1-2-3 punch of Boonen, Devolder and Chavanel, it seems as though Lefevre may have a lock on the race, but I wouldn't discount the fact that Boonen and Devolder will be marked men. Last weekend Pipo Pozzato(Katusha) never let Boonen leave his sight, and in fact sat on his wheel for the last 50-60kms. While Slipstream may not be as deep a team as Quick Step or Columbia, look for them to make the right moves when necessary, and let the work fall on the shoulders of the other teams. If they play their cards right JV and team may just find themselves standing on one of the steps of the podium, if not the top most, hoisting a cobble into the air.