Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard will lead Team Sky on the French pave, with Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Christian Knees, Gianni Moscon, Lukas Wisniowski completing the line-up. The team is a mix of youth and experience. Knees is the veteran of the squad at 36, while Moscon is only 22. Doull and Dibben are only 23 and, along with Wisniowski, are riding Paris-Roubaix for the first time in their professional careers.
Team Sky won Milan-San Remo with Michal Kwiatkowski but has so far made little impact in the cobbled Classics. Luke Rowe's third place at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne is their best result so far in their cobbled campaign. Stannard has been strong but has yet to leave his mark. However he finished third in last year's Paris-Roubaix behind Matt Hayman and Tom Boonen and has the pedigree to do another great ride on the French cobbles. Stannard finished second in the junior version of Paris-Roubaix back in 2004, behind teammate Geraint Thomas. Sunday will be his eighth ride at Paris-Roubaix.
Rowe is recovering from his high-speed crash at the Tour of Flanders, when Sep Vanmarcke appeared to get a wheel stuck in the gap in the concrete road surface.
"I kind of lost most of my skin down most of my right-hand side, but in general when you crash that fast on a bad surface like that it could have been a lot worse," Rowe told Cyclingnews at the start of Scheldeprijs.
"You see Sep's [Vanmarcke] got a broken finger, and that's put him out of Roubaix. While you can't say that it's lucky, I think that I've come off relatively well. I'm just trying to forget about it. It's Paris-Roubaix. Any other race, you'd say I'll have a few days off and let the body heal but it's Roubaix and nothing is going to stop me performing to the best of my ability there.
"We've got to go into Roubaix and take the positives out of the last month. The team has been riding well and physically we've been feeling good, and hopefully a few things go our way and we can pull one out of the bag."
Two recon rides
Team Sky has been on two recon rides over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles in the last week. The first came in the build-up to the Tour of Flanders, where they rode the first 10 sectors of cobbles, until the Arenberg Forrest. They picked up where they left off on Tuesday, ahead of riding Scheldeprijs, going from Denain through the Arenberg and onto the Roubaix velodrome. No stone has been left un-ridden, according to Rowe, with Pinarello providing a new hydraulic rear suspension system to help soften the blows of the pave.
The riders will head to Compiegne on Friday afternoon for the official team presentation on Saturday and then the big race on Sunday.
"We saw it [on Tuesday], and it was pretty dry. It was one of those epic dusty conditions. The car went in front of us for one section, and we couldn't see anything. It was proper dusty because it's so dry," Rowe explained.
"I think that we can expect another race similar to Flanders – open. People aren't afraid of racing further and further out. I've been thinking, how far are they going to go? Seeing that split on the Muur and then when Gilbert went, I thought that's a long way to go, but we've been seeing people succeed further and further out.
"The Classics have been raced more aggressively and from much further out than I've certainly raced ever before in the past in the last four or five years. I actually quite like it. It's good."
Team Sky for Paris-Roubaix: Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Christian Knees, Gianni Moscon, Lukas Wisniowski and Elia Viviani.
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