Vanmarcke was in good form heading into last weekend's Tour of Flanders, with podiums at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen. However, two early crashes forced him to waste energy and all but derailed his chances of a top result. He eventually rolled in 25 seconds down on the winner in 13th place. A former runner-up at the Hell of the North in 2013, he is looking to close out his cobbled Classics campaign with a strong result.
"It's just cycling," Vanmarcke said of his race at Tour of Flanders, at the team presentation in Compiegne on Saturday. "Everything has gone well except for in Harelbeke when I was in a big crash and then at the Tour of Flanders, everything wasn't going well. I have tried to forget about it and move on, and hopefully, everything is ok tomorrow."
If Vanmarcke hopes to take a top result he will have to get the better of an incredibly strong Quick-Step Floors team, along with his other rivals. The Belgian team has won almost everything going at the 2018 Classics and come into Paris-Roubaix with no fewer than four options for victory. EF Education First's options are a little more limited with last year's third-place finisher, Sebastian Langeveld, their only other serious card to play. When asked by one reporter how the team would go about beating Quick-Step on the cobbles, Vanmarcke gave a simple answer: "I don't know."
He later elaborated: "We haven't anything planned yet. The DSs have probably planned, but we don't know yet. Of course, Quick-Step are the team to watch, they are really there with the form and they will be really strong again tomorrow. It"s about seeing the race really well and having a lot of luck, and hopefully, everything goes right."
Vanmarcke did say that he expected the predicted tailwind to open up the race to more riders. The weekend has been hot too with temperatures hitting as high as 22 degrees, which should make for a much dryer course than the one that the team saw during their recon on Thursday.
"First of all, it will be a more open race than if it is a headwind, which is a good thing," said Vanmarcke. "I heard that it will be really dry. All of the sections that we did on Thursday are going to be dry, so that won't be a problem anymore with crashes or things. Paris-Roubaix always has many attacks from really early in the race and I expect the same.
"A lot of teams will let their riders go in the break and try to stay up front as long as possible so their leaders can catch up with them further into the race. I think it doesn't happen a lot that really big groups can go, like 25-man groups, but there will for sure be 10 or 15 guys going up the road."