The Place du Palais in the centre of Compiegne was packed with cycling fans, autograph hunters, team buses, directuer sportifs and 195 riders on Saturday for the official team presentation.
After a few hours sleep, everyone would be back in the square to see the race off on Sunday morning. The fans were excited, the directeur sportifs were worried, and the riders were both excited and nervous about racing on the pave.
Cyclingnews spoke to many of the big names and key players.
Christian Prudhomme on why Lampre-Farnese Vini are in the race
"I don't know anything about Lampre. We're waiting to know more like everyone else. But I will say that the decision of the BMC team, is a good decision."
Fabian Cancellara on why he's not worried about Tom Boonen
"I've won a lot of big races but I was perhaps missing something a big win in Belgium. Cycling is about passion and in Belgium the people are crazy about cycling and there are some great races. I won Harelbeke and then the Tour of Flanders and it doesn't get much better than that.
"People perhaps think I'm from another planet now, but I've worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices to be successful. Others have, too, but when I aim for something, I've always managed to do it. I've made mistakes in Paris-Roubaix so far and in others race in last like year's World Championships. How strong was I that day? But I've learned to more focused in races. I watched the Tour of Flanders ten times on television this week and watched how I raced and how the others raced. I think I raced perfectly. I don’t know if I can manage to race like that at Paris-Roubaix. But I know who is going well and who isn't. I know who made mistakes. I'm ready."
You're very strong but can you still win if you're very unlucky?
"I don't know because I've never had to comeback from a problem, I've always been at the front, in the thick of the action. But I know Paris-Roubaix is never over until you reach the velodrome. I remember when Taif won, he was two minutes behind and other riders had been dropped. But you can always get back on if you believe it. I believe I can do the double. I'm ready and I'm going to give it everything until the velodrome on Roubaix."
To beat Boonen, do you have to drop him or can you wait for the sprint in the velodrome?
"It's the same for me. Sprint or not, drop him on a climb. It's all the same for me. There's been a lot of talk, but there a lot of other riders in the race. But if people think they can block me out of the race, then they might lose the race themselves. We've got two cards to play at Saxo Bank (Matti Breschel is the other). If he (Boonen) only watches me, he's made me a mistake. I won't be watching him, I'll be looking up the road, towards the velodrome."
David Millar on who is leader at Garmin-Transitions
"The last time I rode was in 2000. But things are different this time. I'm here to race this time and do really well. After Flanders and in the last couple of weeks, I'm feeling good, so there's no reason way I can't hope to be in the race in the finale. It's going to be quite scary. I did the last 90km in training on Thursday and it's pretty shocking how hardcore it is."
"The cobbles are a lot different to Belgium and there are a few sections that are just brutal. It's nothing like I've ever done before and it's going to be quite crazy. I guess it's better when go over it faster but I' still going to hurt."
"In the team, there's no real team leader. We're all kin of free electrons in that sense. This race is so unpredictable and you're so reliant on teammates and it's decided by team tactics. You need to be all firing in the same manner on the day. We've got me, Martijn (Maaskant), Johan (Van Summeren) and Ty (Tyler Farrar). Martijn and Johan have both got experience and if they go good, then that's great. But if all four of us are going well, it puts us in a good position."
"Boonen and Cancellara are going to be firing shots at each other again but if there's a head win, it comes down to tactics again. If Saxo sends a guy up the road, then Fabian won't ride and so Quick Step will have to chase. It could become a very tactical race. Which means it's not just about blunt force like in Flanders. It could also mean an opportunist move wins it."
"I usually enjoy races but I don’t think I will manage to enjoy Roubaix. Nobody does. I was speaking to Stuart O'Grady and even he doesn't, but it's a race you have to do."
Tom Boonen talks about the difference between Flanders and Roubaix
"I'm not really thinking about getting a record number of wins or equaling Roger (De Vlaeminck) or anything. Every year it gets more important if you win but the motivation is the same for the last six, seven years. I've been trying to win races ever since I turned professional."
"At Paris-Roubaix it's the same contenders as in Flanders but it's a different kind of race, you need to be more explosive. But it's the same four or five who end up at the front. I hope to defend my title. My legs feel good."
"I've always won more races than Fabian did, so I don’t think I have to hope to be lucky. Whatever happens in the race, I think everybody should be happy about the Spring Classics because they've been really, beautiful races. I enjoyed racing them and did everything I could to win them all. If I didn’t win, all I can do is come back next year.
Bernhard Eisel reveals why he his nervous
"I'm ready, but I'll also be happy when it's over. I'm read and hopefully everything will come together. I'm glad it’s forecast to be dry because I've never ridden Roubaix in the rain. It should be a headwind, so that might control the favourites. Cancellara, Boonen, Flecha and Pozzato are the big favorites but then there's Hushovd, Breschel and perhaps me. I'm good put all those are good too.
"I've got more confidence now I've won a big race too but it's almost made me put more pressure on myself. We'll see what happens. I'm kind of looking forward to it. I'm nervous but so is Servais Knaven and he's doing it for the 16th time."
Read part 1 of the Paris-Roubaix team presentation feature.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for live coverage of the race starting at 10:15 am local time.
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