There are only three days until Paris-Roubaix finally returns after an 30-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, and riders previewed a very different course to what they normally experience in April.
Tall crops, weeds and green grass lined the sectors of pavé as favourites Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) rode across mud-slicked cobbles.
The Arenberg forest pavé, which last week had almost disappeared beneath a blanket of weeds, has been carefully groomed, and recent rains brought out hues of red, brown and blue in the ancient stones.
After heavy rain on Wednesday, workers were busy clearing a deep section of mud from one sector but not before Van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix team had passed. Senne Leysen was an unfortunate victim of the slick conditions and emerged with his back covered in mud.
Riders will now review their tyre choices and pressures and dial in their equipment for Sunday's six-hour sufferfest.
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, October 3 from 11:00 a.m. CDT to the finish.
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