That's one of my favourite races and one of the moments I love the most in the year: Paris-Roubaix is for tough specialists while in the Ronde some brave outsider has got a chance. Fascination of pavé and always open uphill fight live together in the Hundred Hills race.
It's the first spring time, so weather is a factor: a dry Ronde requires different skills than a wet one. This year it's going to be wet - it seems - so cyclocrossers can smile and all the rest... well... no. Crashes play usually a role - sad but true - like in all those nervous Belgian races.
Roubaix tends to be a 'methaphysic race', especially in its second part, with its abstract landscape and few conteders left fighting face to face. The Ronde is a little more 'democratic' - and messy, and lively. It can take a 'Roubaix tone' but it can also develop a very different plot. It's usually a more open race, unless Roubaix's favourites often use it as a first field of clash.
I remember a time when April was mild in Italy, sunny, fragrant of blooming flowers and busy of stunned insects. Now it's rather gray, not cold but not really warm. Plants and trees are shyly puting out their flowers, the grass is green and fat - mostly because of the rain - but you don't feel the spring euphoria yet.
My son will start his cycling season today and just after the race we'll go to the country home where I plann to stay till Monday morning. It's probably early, the sun sets around 5pm up there, because the house is just under the top of the hill, facing north. Inside it's surely cold and we are going to sleep in sleepingbags. But I'm itching for the country, I really miss it. Especially its beautful dawns, all rosy and gold in summer now probably misty down on the valley that I see from my window. And for the silent, sunny afternoon when you just listen to birds tweeting and - too often - neighbours' mower.
I'll watch there the Ronde, in tv, with those awful Italian rai comment. I'm going to write a report and not a banal one - I hope - but not to 'cover' it on twitter. In general I'm going to write less and better - or to try at least. Then you know, I'll go to watch Paris-Roubaix for the first time. I'm very excited. Once again my passion for traveling and my passion for cycling will meet in my love for writing (and photography). But now it's time for a preview: Cancellara, Sagan and Boonen (Roubaix guys), but also Devolder (in a great shape), Phinney (now or never)... Omega and Belking look good. I'm curious about Team Sky. But if you ask me a name... I'll say Stybar.