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On the start line at Paris-Roubaix

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Stuart O'Grady, Boonen, Pozzato and Cancellara

Stuart O'Grady, Boonen, Pozzato and Cancellara
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The peloton gathers for the start

The peloton gathers for the start
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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Filippo Pozzato, the man in black, was one of the last riders to sign

Filippo Pozzato, the man in black, was one of the last riders to sign
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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The Team Sky beacon allowed their riders to find the bus in the Place du Palais at Compiegne

The Team Sky beacon allowed their riders to find the bus in the Place du Palais at Compiegne
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Riders hope they won't have to load their bikes on to - and their bodies into - the broom wagon today

Riders hope they won't have to load their bikes on to - and their bodies into - the broom wagon today
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Thor Hushovd awaits the start of the 108th Paris-Roubaix

Thor Hushovd awaits the start of the 108th Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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The peloton gets ready for the start in Compiegne

The peloton gets ready for the start in Compiegne
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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A fan in vintage outfit cheers on his favorite riders with a Belgian flag at the start in Compiegne

A fan in vintage outfit cheers on his favorite riders with a Belgian flag at the start in Compiegne
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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Jens Keukeleire (Cofidis) receives advice from former pro rider Nico Mattan

Jens Keukeleire (Cofidis) receives advice from former pro rider Nico Mattan
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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The team buses are parking in the shadow of Napoleon's chateau in Compiegne

The team buses are parking in the shadow of Napoleon's chateau in Compiegne
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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The teams get in position at the start in Compiegne

The teams get in position at the start in Compiegne
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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The teams arrive in Compiegne

The teams arrive in Compiegne
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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A Vacansoleil mechanic does some last-minute fine-tuning to a race bike

A Vacansoleil mechanic does some last-minute fine-tuning to a race bike
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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The riders sign on

The riders sign on
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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Every rider will be hoping to avoid seeing the broom wagon today

Every rider will be hoping to avoid seeing the broom wagon today
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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Directeur sportif Matt White gives Tyler Farrar some last advice

Directeur sportif Matt White gives Tyler Farrar some last advice
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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JImmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) goes to sign on

JImmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) goes to sign on
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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Staf Scheirlinckx (Omega Pharma-Lotto) checks his brakes

Staf Scheirlinckx (Omega Pharma-Lotto) checks his brakes
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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George Hincapie (BMC) was happy to be at the start of another Paris-Roubaix

George Hincapie (BMC) was happy to be at the start of another Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)
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Boonen tightens his helmet before the start

Boonen tightens his helmet before the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Boonen, Pozzato and Cancellara swap fashion tips about wearing black

Boonen, Pozzato and Cancellara swap fashion tips about wearing black
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Garmin-Transitions' Julian Dean, Steve Cozza and David Millar

Garmin-Transitions' Julian Dean, Steve Cozza and David Millar
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The riders gather for the start

The riders gather for the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The local politicians cut the ribbon. The race can start

The local politicians cut the ribbon. The race can start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Only 259km to go from here

Only 259km to go from here
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Tom Boonen signs on and waves to the crowd

Tom Boonen signs on and waves to the crowd
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) win his Specialized 'Project Black' bike

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) win his Specialized 'Project Black' bike
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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James Murdoch and Brailsford traveled as guests with Bernard Hinault

James Murdoch and Brailsford traveled as guests with Bernard Hinault
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Millar talks to Team Sky's Dave Brialsford

Millar talks to Team Sky's Dave Brialsford
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) was happy about the blue skies and sun

David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) was happy about the blue skies and sun
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Columbia) admitted he was nervous

Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Columbia) admitted he was nervous
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Frank Hoj (Saxo Bank) was all smiles at the start

Frank Hoj (Saxo Bank) was all smiles at the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Garmin-Transition's Doug Ellis and Bob Stapleton of HTC-Columbia

Garmin-Transition's Doug Ellis and Bob Stapleton of HTC-Columbia
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford and Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis in deep conversation

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford and Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis in deep conversation
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Which one of these four will triumph in Roubaix

Which one of these four will triumph in Roubaix
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

The sun was shining at the start of Paris-Roubaix in Compiegne for the start of l'enfer du nord, although it was the likely headwind on the exposed roads and sections of cobbles that was causing most of the debate.

As the riders signed on and gathered for the start, most predicted the headwind would create a more tactical race and perhaps favour an outsider, rather than one of the big favourites.

Cyclingnews talked to James Murdoch before he jumped into a VIP with Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford and French cycling legend Bernard Hinault.

Just before the flag was dropped and the riders rolled out, a minute's silence was held in memory of two-time winner Franco Ballerini, who died in a car rally accident on February 7. A special cobblestone prize will be awarded to the first Italian rider at he finish in the Roubaix velodrome.

195 riders rolled out from the start, with Belgium's Wilfried Cretskens (Omega Pharma-Lotto) the only none starter.

The 259km race is scheduled to finish at around 5:00pm local time in France. If you want to know more, Cyclingnews' live coverage started the moment race left Compiegne.