What's Cool In Road Cycling

Magnus Backstedt: Swedish Steamroller Checks In

Nothing like a last minute pre-Roubaix update, so PEZ tossed a short email out to last year’s Cobble King, and Magnus being Magnus, he wouldn’t let us down. Here’s what he says looking to Sunday…

He’s big.
Not big for a cyclist… (My daughter is 14 months old and I think she’s got a Kilo or two on half the peloton…) He’s big compared to most things at 6′ 4″ and 200+ pounds. Yet at that size and with the celebrity of pulling off arguably the toughest race of the season, Magnus’ manner is something different than most expect. An absolute gentleman that is polite and engaging in a way that you simply can’t fake (some try, Magnus has no need to…). He’s just a damn nice person. He’s clearly confident in himself, yet much like Phil Liggett, he’s not simply speaking, but listening too. Character that probably comes in handy raising a pair of girls, but then having a wife that, as a former national champion, understands the craft and work load probably helps too.

Magnus on the attack at Tour of Flanders ’05.

Now on to our Q and A with the current cobble holder…
Pez: Looking great on the front, Magnus was in for the win in the final move at Gent-Wevelgem when a crash just before the finish ruined his day. I’m hoping all is perfect and that you just got a bit of an early rest with the crash… How are you feeling after the spill?

Magnus: I’m feeling really strong on the bike, unfortunately I took quite a bad hit on my wrist in the crash in Gent Wevelgem. I keep my fingers crossed that it won’t give me too much trouble on Sunday. Just gonna have to try and block the pain.

Pez: How’s the team looking so far this year and who gets to help you this year at Roubaix?

Magnus: My strongest card for some really good help is my room mate Marcus Ljungqvist. He has been riding strong in the last couple of races and we also know each other extremely well, so he knows how I want things done.

Pez: How has your run up to this week gone? Looks good given your performance at Ghent…

Magnus: It has been going really well if you don’t count for the 3 weeks that I was sick in February and March. I’m really happy with how the form is now.

Pez: Will your family turn out for you, or stay homeside?

Magnus: Yes, Meg and the girls will come and cheer me on. Looking forward to seeing them after having been 3 weeks on the road.

Magnus is riding strong, and looked good
in Gent-Wevelgem before a late race crash
stalled his day.

Pez: Does your wife still ride regularly?

Magnus: No she has her hands full looking after our 2 girls. So there isn’t much time left for her to ride.

Pez: Any special set-up on the bike for the cobbles? (tire pressures, wheel build, like that…)

Magnus: There is nothing new on my bike compared to last year. Not quite sure yet what pressure I will ride. Will decide on the day after having a look at the weather conditions.

Pez: Last time we spoke (several months ago), Bianchi were working on something a bit more durable for your style. Has it come through?

Magnus: They made a new Titanium frame for me before last year’s Roubaix, and I have stuck with that all last year and the same this year. That frame is as close to perfect as you will come for these kind of races.

[Tech Note: The wattage that Magnus turns out as a standard is simply staggering, even among the rest of the Pros. That he’s had a single bike for a while speaks volumes about good old Titanium… Nice job Bianchi!]

Pez: The cobbles always break their share of men. With your size, Pez Readers want to know if you’ve ever broken one of the cobbles?

Magnus: Not that I’m aware of.

Pez: Would you prefer a wet slippery day, or dry and dusty?

Magnus: Doesn’t really matter to me, but I think I prefer a wet day. More spectacular then.

Pez: Do you have a special pre race meal?

Magnus: Not really, I stick with the same routine as always. You don’t want to go and change your routines just because it’s a big race on the calendar.

Pez: How much will you eat during the day?

Magnus: That depends a lot on the weather conditions. But I’d say 3-4 bars, 4-5 bits of bread with jam, and some Gels.

Pez: Lastly, if you win again (and we’re hoping for you and George…) Can I have your “Old” Cobble trophy???

Magnus: Hmmmm, let me think. NO – that first one is a very special thing for me. I can’t put a value on that stone. Means too much to me…

Well, Damn it! I knew he wasn’t a nice guy… Selfish, selfish, selfish!, One little request, but noooo…

Here’s to Maggy for 05′. No better choice for a rough road than a steam roller, so best of luck! And if you go for two, We’ll root for number three. That way a cobble can go to each of your girls, and that leaves one for me…

Also a quick tip of the Cap to Andrea Tafi… Chuck the radio and ride this last one any way you choose. You’ve earned more than that.

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