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GENT, Belgium (VN) — BMC Racing will ride Paris-Roubaix’s pavé Thursday for its Tour de France leader Tejay van Garderen. Nine of the nasty cobble sectors in Northern France will form part of the Tour’s fifth stage July 9.
“Us Tour climber guys are going to learn how to ride cobbles with a few of the Roubaix guys,” Peter Stetina told VeloNews. “I feel bad because they have to go back after Roubaix and re-ride the cobble sectors!”
BMC’s cobble warriors Greg Van Avermaet and Michael Schär will shepherd van Garderen, Stetina, Peter Velits, Dominik Nerz, and Amaël Moinard during the recon ride. Besides the days in the mountains, the stage from Ypres to Arenberg could be one of the Tour’s most crucial stages.
“It’s definitely possible that someone might lose their Tour de France chances because of it but that’s just the nature of the beast,” Stetina said.
“I think Tejay will be good at it because he’s one of the bigger GC riders. He has the weight and the momentum to carry him over. He’ll be able to use the inertia. We raced cyclocross together as juniors so he knows how to handle himself well on the dirt.”
Paris-Roubaix passed over 51.1 kilometers of cobbles Sunday. The 156km Tour stage will include 15.4km on cobbles.
In 2010, the Tour only raced over 13.2km but the riders felt the impact. Andy Schleck made the lead group, but his brother Frank fell and broke his collarbone. Alberto Contador lost one minute and Lance Armstrong lost two minutes.
“I’ve never rode any of those hardcore cobbles. We rode around on them [as under-23 riders] once in Izegem, but it doesn’t compare. Even that was in Flanders, totally different than the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix,” Stetina added.
“I’ve heard horror stories from past Tours when the race went over those cobbles. It sounds like all-out warfare, and then the next day’s pretty easy because everyone has PTSD — Post-traumatic stress disorder, like the war vets!”
To prepare for the “war,” Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) previewed the sectors on Monday. Astana scheduled a reconnaissance with its leader Vincenzo Nibali for Thursday.
Stetina spent the last four years in the service of Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal at Garmin-Sharp. BMC signed him over the offseason to help van Garderen in the Tour’s mountains.
On Wednesday, Stetina led classics captain Philippe Gilbert to victory at Brabantse Pijl (Brabant Arrow). He said BMC called him in for the race because it worked with his travel schedule around the Roubaix reconnaissance.
“It wouldn’t be bad to race the other Ardennes classics but I have other goals,” Stetina said. “I’ve got to go to Tahoe to prepare for the Tour of California. The team is allowing me a chance to win it and that’s my big goal before switching over to helping Tejay win the Tour.”