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Racing to Hell: Roubaix's hit list

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It's hell – rain or shine

It's hell – rain or shine (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step) would love to add a third cobble stone to his collection

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) would love to add a third cobble stone to his collection (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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Can Stijn Devolder do the double?

Can Stijn Devolder do the double? (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) has good cards

Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) has good cards (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) had an exceptional spring

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) had an exceptional spring (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Filippo Pozzato is always a factor

Filippo Pozzato is always a factor (Image credit: Gregor Brown)
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Can George Hincapie (Columbia-Highroad) overcome bad luck from recent Paris-Roubaix races?

Can George Hincapie (Columbia-Highroad) overcome bad luck from recent Paris-Roubaix races? (Image credit: Sirotti)

Rating the riders in Hell, April 10, 2009

After a tumultuous start to the 2009 season, the game of predicting the winner has been made more difficult. The Cyclingnews staff used its collective Classics crystal ball to tackle the heady task of analysing who may come out on top in the 107th edition of l'Enfer du Nord.

With the absence of big hitters Stuart O'Grady and Alessandro Ballan, the 'semi-retirement' of Magnus Backstedt and the bad luck Fabian Cancellara has been experiencing lately, the Paris-Roubaix game has changed in 2009.

Perennial contender Steffen Wesemann has retired and won't be around this year, and Silence-Lotto's Leif Hoste is somewhat struggling with his form leading up to the big day. It leaves the door open to emerging Classics rider Martijn Maaskant and the irrepressible 'Australian' Heinrich Haussler.

Many people have said it's Quick Step's race to lose, and with Stijn Devolder scoring another emphatic win in last weekend's Ronde Van Vlaanderen, they may have a point.

Don't be fooled by the voices around you, however; we certainly try not to, which is why we've brought you a line-up of those who could provide a shakeup on the 28 sectors of pavé throughout Roubaix's 259 kilometres.

Tom Boonen - Quick Step

palmarès.

Stijn Devolder - Quick Step

Martijn Maaskant - Garmin-Slipstream

Fabian Cancellara - Team CSC

Juan Antonio Flecha - Rabobank

Heinrich Haussler - Cervélo TestTeam

Sylvain Chvanel - Quick Step

palmares

Filippo Pozzato - Katusha

George Hincapie - Columbia-Highroad

Leif Hoste - Silence-Lotto

Wild Cards - the best of the rest

No review of the likely contenders would be complete without mentioning the last Frenchman to win in Roubaix: Frederic Guesdon (Française des Jeux). That win was way back in 1997, but Fred has the invaluable experience for any challenge from his teammates - but who they might be, we couldn't say.

Other names worth a mention include former winner Servais Knaven (Milram) and – barring team tactics – the Columbia-Highroads Edvald Boasson Hagen and Marcus Burghardt. Also watch out for Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), who may create a surprise.