Ahead of the 116th edition of Paris-Roubaix, the 25 squads who will take to the start line Sunday assembled for the team presentation. Word champion Peter Sagan and his Bora-Hansgrohe team and defending champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) two of the star attractions.
The QuickStep-Floors team, dominant this spring on the cobbles, will start favourites Sunday with Niki Terpstra, Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar all lining out in blue. Sagan though is one rider out to spoil the party.
"The best defence is a good offence," Sagan said of how to beat the QuickStep-Floors juggernaut.
Sagan first rode Paris-Roubaix in 2010, recording a DNF, with his sixth place in 2014 his sole top-ten result to date. In 2018, Sagan is aiming to take the win and lift the cobble.
"I have to stay calm and cool. We also have a good team and it's up to us to invent a new tactic," Sagan said. "Quick-Step dominated the first classics but we're not done yet. To wear the rainbow jersey doesn't put an extra weight on me. I'm serene. I'll do my best. I've never won Paris - Roubaix but I'd love to cross the line first on the Vélodrome. It's an interesting race and, to me, the most important one."
Van Avermaet came into Paris-Roubaix last year having won E3, Gent-Wevelgem and placed second at Tour of Flanders. Third place at E3 is the Olympic champions best result on the cobbles so far this season but Van Avermaet remains confident of a repeat victory as he explained.
"I didn't make the right choices so far but hopefully I can find the right tactics. First of all, I'll take care of myself, try to control the race. I'll try to be in the right moves and I have a good sprint also. I don't have to go solo before the Vélodrome and that's one of my strong points," he said.
In Terpstra, Gilbert and Stybar, QuickStep has a capable trio of taking the victory and like the Tour of Flanders, enter the race with no outright leader. The approach according to Terpstra is to go "on the attack, full gas".
"It's such a specific race, you have to be prepared for everything, good or bad luck," added Stybar. "We're riding good as a team and that's our strength."
Paris-Roubaix will start at the Place du Palais in Compiegne at 11am with the race expected to finish around 5:30pm in the Roubaix velodrome. Cyclingnews will have live coverage of Paris-Roubaix followed by full race coverage. Click here to read the Paris-Roubaix race preview and click here to find out the 12 contenders for victory.