Peter Sagan and his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates did their final recon ride on the pavé of Paris-Roubaix on Thursday, testing their bikes and legs before Sunday's final Classic on the cobbles. On Friday morning the team rode 50km on normal roads, heading south into France and towards Compiègne for the start of Paris-Roubaix from their base in Belgium. Race day is less than 48 hours away.
The world champion is still in pain from his crash at the Tour of Flanders, with his hip and ribs the biggest concern. The rough French pavé caused him some pain during Thursday's recon ride but his entourage told Cyclingnews that he is feeling better and is ready to fight for victory in the last major race of his spring campaign.
Sagan has a new Specialized Roubaix bike for Sunday and spent time dialling it in with the Bora-Hansgrohe mechanics, tweaking the brakes and testing the tyres to decide the best pressure for the pavé. Like Tom Boonen, Sagan has opted not to use disc brakes due to the risks of a slow wheel or bike change and so Specialized have made their two star riders a special version of the US brand's new Roubaix bike. The stock model only comes with disc brakes but to satisfy UCI rules on race bikes, Specialized plan to produce a limited edition of a dual-mount rim brake model that has clearance for 28mm tyres.
During their recon ride of the pavé on Thursday, Sagan and his teammates set off from Denain and rode from just before the Forest of Arenberg sector (number 19 of the 29 sectors) until the Carrefour d'Arbe (sector 4), which is just 17km from the finish in the Roubaix velodrome. Sagan often powered along at near race speed to get a feel for the cobblestones and the dry dusty conditions that are expected for Sunday. Of course, he also found time to pull a wheelie for photographers and fans, who stopped in awe to seem him ride past.
Sagan has shown some superb form in recent weeks but has so far failed to win a major Classic, his and Bora-Hansgrohe's goal for the first part of the 2017 season.
He was beaten by Michal Kwiatkowski in a close sprint at Milan-San Remo and then crashed hard at the Tour of Flanders after tangling with a spectator's jacket. Rival teams have used their combined strength to attack and isolate Sagan from his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates, with races exploding earlier than is usually the case. Similar tactics are expected on Sunday but after his recon ride, Sagan is ready to race.
Bora-Hansgrohe named its full team for Paris-Roubaix on Friday morning, confirming that Sagan will have support from his brother Juraj, Maciej Bodnar, German veteran Marcus Burghardt, Michael Kolar, Aleksejs Saramotins, Andreas Schillinger and Rudiger Selig.