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Gallery: Riders preview Paris-Roubaix course

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Johan Vansummeren heads up Garmin's team for Paris-Roubaix

Johan Vansummeren heads up Garmin's team for Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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UnitedHealthcare tackles the Orchies sector

UnitedHealthcare tackles the Orchies sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A Team Katusha car out on the pave

A Team Katusha car out on the pave
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Luca Paolini in the Arenberg forest

Luca Paolini in the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paris-Roubaix's Orchies sector

Paris-Roubaix's Orchies sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Belkin on the cobbles

Belkin on the cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Garmin Sharp reconning the pave

Garmin Sharp reconning the pave
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Garmin-Sharp rides off into the distance

Garmin-Sharp rides off into the distance
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp)

Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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570m of cobbles in the Pave du Moulin de Vertain

570m of cobbles in the Pave du Moulin de Vertain
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Katusha out on the pave getting ready for Sunday

Katusha out on the pave getting ready for Sunday
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Moulin de Vertain and its famous windmill behind Fabian Cancellara

The Moulin de Vertain and its famous windmill behind Fabian Cancellara
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) floats along the cobbles

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) floats along the cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) floats along the cobbles on the Orchies sector

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) floats along the cobbles on the Orchies sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Belkin on the Orchies cobbles

Belkin on the Orchies cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lotto Belisol on the Orchies sector

Lotto Belisol on the Orchies sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The cobbles of Orchies are quite different from those of Arenberg

The cobbles of Orchies are quite different from those of Arenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lotto Belisol heads into the curve in the Orchies sector of Paris-Roubaix

Lotto Belisol heads into the curve in the Orchies sector of Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lotto Belisol rides through the Arenberg forest

Lotto Belisol rides through the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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UnitedHealthcare gets its first look at the Arenberg forest

UnitedHealthcare gets its first look at the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Trek team previews the Arenberg forest

The Trek team previews the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara on the Moulin de Vertain sector

Fabian Cancellara on the Moulin de Vertain sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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UnitedHealthcare tackles the Orchies sector

UnitedHealthcare tackles the Orchies sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A sign directs the way to Orchies

A sign directs the way to Orchies
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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UnitedHealthcare tackles the Orchies sector

UnitedHealthcare tackles the Orchies sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Katusha's Luca Paolini rides on the crest of the Arenberg cobbles

Katusha's Luca Paolini rides on the crest of the Arenberg cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Katusha recons the Arenberg forest

Katusha recons the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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UnitedHealthcare on the Arenberg cobbles

UnitedHealthcare on the Arenberg cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The smooth part on the right will be fenced off come Sunday in Arenberg

The smooth part on the right will be fenced off come Sunday in Arenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A sign directs the way to the Arenberg cobbles

A sign directs the way to the Arenberg cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Towns along the route celebrate the arrival of Paris-Roubaix

Towns along the route celebrate the arrival of Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Garmin-Sharp riders get a feel for the Arenberg forest sector

Garmin-Sharp riders get a feel for the Arenberg forest sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Johan Vansummeren leads Garmin down the cobbles

Johan Vansummeren leads Garmin down the cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Topsport Vlaandren gets ready for Sunday

Topsport Vlaandren gets ready for Sunday
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Trek gets a feel for the Arenberg forest

Trek gets a feel for the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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When you see this bridge, things are about to get serious.

When you see this bridge, things are about to get serious.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara on the cobbles of Arenberg

Fabian Cancellara on the cobbles of Arenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A mountain biker is passed by the Trek team in the Arenberg forest

A mountain biker is passed by the Trek team in the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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These aren't your every day cobbles. These are Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

These aren't your every day cobbles. These are Paris-Roubaix cobbles.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Johan Vansummeren sticks with the team car on the Orchies sector

Johan Vansummeren sticks with the team car on the Orchies sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Garmin-Sharp

Garmin-Sharp
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Team Belkin rides past the windmill of the Moulin de Vertain sector

Team Belkin rides past the windmill of the Moulin de Vertain sector
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Garmin-Sharp previews the course

Garmin-Sharp previews the course
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The cobbles of the Arenberg forest were recently "cleaned"

The cobbles of the Arenberg forest were recently "cleaned"
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Topsport Vlaanderen speeds through the Arenberg forest

Topsport Vlaanderen speeds through the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lotto Belisol riders pick their lines on the Arenberg forest cobbles

Lotto Belisol riders pick their lines on the Arenberg forest cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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UnitedHealthcare gets ready for Paris-Roubaix

UnitedHealthcare gets ready for Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The horrible cobbles of the Arenberg forest

The horrible cobbles of the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Belkin's Sep Vanmarcke is a prime contender for Sunday

Belkin's Sep Vanmarcke is a prime contender for Sunday
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) previews the course for Paris-Roubaix

Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) previews the course for Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Trek gets ready for battle

Trek gets ready for battle
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Grass grows in between the cobbles of the Arenberg forest

Grass grows in between the cobbles of the Arenberg forest
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lotto Belisol on the Orchies cobbles

Lotto Belisol on the Orchies cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The cobbles of Moulin de Vertain are smoother, but no picnic.

The cobbles of Moulin de Vertain are smoother, but no picnic.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

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.