Gallery: Riders preview Paris-Roubaix course

Recon rides start for Sunday's Hell of the North

The pavé of Paris-Roubaix are the most challenging stretches of "road" the professional peloton will race over at any point in the season, and each of the 28 sectors has its own character. The steepness of the slope from crown to ditch, the unevenness of the stones, and the amount of grass growing in between each cobble all combine with the weather to create and ever changing canvas of agony for the riders.

Most of the teams of this year's Paris-Roubaix headed out on Thursday for their reconnaissance of the course, as showers are predicted for Friday. The last truly wet edition of the race was way back in 2002, when Johan Museeuw crossed the line caked in mud but victorious. For more than a decade it has been dust rather than mud, wind instead of rain, which has wrecked havoc on the riders. It looks to be more of the same this year, with 19C and mostly sunny skies predicted for race day.

The preview of the cobbled sectors is therefore extremely important for Paris-Roubaix. The Arenberg forest, the first five star sector, comes at kilometer 161.5km, and at 2,400m in length, it is always crucial.

The rapid-fire trio of sectors near Orchies, the five star Mons-en-Pévèle and the Le Carrefour de l'Arbre are also important places to see, and sites of winning moves over the years. Enjoy this gallery of the riders previewing the course.

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