121st Paris-Roubaix Sunday | Boivin receives the green light for Hell of the North

Unless there is a new pitfall, Guillaume Boivin will indeed be at the start of 121e Paris-Roubaix, Sunday, in Compiègne.

Victim of a fall which caused his retirement from the Tour of Flanders, where world champion Mathieu van der Poel won for the third time last Sunday, Boivin was able to ride on Tuesday despite a contracture, a large “charley horse” in the left quadriceps. A visit from the doctor later encouraged him.

“He was super happy to see how it improved because we weren’t very optimistic after the race,” said the Israel-Premier Tech (IPT) representative shortly after this medical update on Tuesday. evening, in Belgium.

Around kilometer 142 of the 270-kilometre event, Boivin found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when a cyclist who was two bikes ahead of him in the peloton hit a spectator on the side of the road. The former Canadian champion was one of the main victims of the domino that followed. The British Ben Swift, veteran of Ineos, came across him.

My handlebars veered and my leg got stuck against the frame. I had a guy on top of me, it really squeezed my leg hard.

Guillaume Boivin

Boivin got up under his own power, but his race stopped there. He returned to the IPT bus parked near the finish in Oudenaarde. Unable to pedal, he let himself be pushed by Frenchman Alexis Renard (Cofidis), a former teammate of Israel Start-Up Nation.

X-rays revealed no fractures. Nonetheless, the 34-year-old runner is sore and his morale is low just a few days away from having his apple tree shaken over the 55.7 km and 29 paved sectors of the Hell of the North.

This fall comes at the worst time for the driver who has dreamed of these classics since the resumption of training in November. A series of bad luck compromised his form even before he set foot in Belgium.

In February, a COVID-19 infection initially prevented him from participating in the Circuit Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the two opening Flandrian classics. His preparation for Paris-Nice was also hampered.

When he returned home in mid-March, food poisoning put him out of action a few days before Milan-San Remo, where he nevertheless escaped. At the E3 Saxo Classic on March 22, he dislocated a finger after being hit by a bicycle while dabbing. The native of Saguenay wanted to restart the classic Across Flanders last Wednesday, but a slow puncture hampered his last 100 kilometers.

In the circumstances, the Tour of Flanders was supposed to offer him information on his state of form, but he was never able to join the fight due to this fall after the first passage of Vieux-Quaremont.

“It’s a month of m… as we say around here. It’s quite demoralizing, especially since I really didn’t think I could do Roubaix when I fell because I wasn’t even able to walk that day. But hey, it seems to be going better. I still trained, I was able to do four hours today. This is already a good sign. I hurt everywhere, but at least I could ride my bike. I try to stay positive and do my best to go to Paris-Roubaix. »

“Not incredible confidence”

A true lover of Paris-Roubaix since his discovery of the junior version in 2007, Boivin shone there with a ninth place despite a fall in 2021. Since then, he has not been able to shine there. In 2022, he had the flu, and last year he was recovering from a concussion after suffering an even more violent crash at the Ronde, which he nevertheless finished.

According to him, the American Riley Sheehan, very strong on the Tour of Flanders (13e), promises to be the best hope of IPT for Paris-Roubaix, which he will compete for the first time at 23 years old.

“For my part, honestly, I hope for a little miracle and that I will have good legs,” said Boivin. Because doing Paris-Roubaix with ordinary legs isn’t much fun. It remains the best race of the year and I’m happy to be at the start. I won’t have incredible confidence, but I will do my best. »

Package for the Grand Prix de l’Escaut on Wednesday, Boivin will instead concentrate on training and reconnaissance of the main cobbled sectors on Thursday or Friday.

The Olympic Games in the balance

The “queen of classics” was not Guillaume Boivin’s only thought after his bad luck at the Tour of Flanders: the Paris Olympic Games are also in his sights. Whoever was in Tokyo aimed to make a good impression during this key period of the selection process, which ends at the end of May. Canada is limited to two riders for the road event.

“Right now, Derek Gee is injured and Hugo (Houle) and I haven’t done much this spring either. This is not obvious. It’s certain that it adds a little to the disappointment of the last few weeks, because I would of course like to go to the Olympic Games. It’s out of my control. I try to focus on the positive and do the best I can with the cards I currently have. »

A ninth Hell of the North for Houle


Hugo Houle

Also thrown onto the tarmac during the Tour of Flanders, Houle came out better, even if he had to give up after hitting his head. The lights are green for his ninth start at Paris-Roubaix, a first since 2021. Lighter than his teammate Boivin, the 33-year-old cyclist has never hidden the fact that crossing the cobblestones was not his favorite exercise, yet less since he turned more towards the mountains a few years ago.

“It’s very demanding for me because I get shaken up a lot,” he said Tuesday. It’s not the race that suits me best, but I appreciate how lucky I am to be there despite the suffering inflicted! »

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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