Stannard is a two-time Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner, and former Paris-Roubaix and E3 Harelbeke podium finisher, but the 30-year-old has been struggling this spring. This year saw him miss the opening weekend and make his cobbled debut at Gent-Wevelgem two weeks ago. It has not been plain sailing with 79th at Dwars door Vlaanderen his best finishing position, while he failed to finish the Tour of Flanders. He admitted to feeling slightly concerned at the start of the week but Thursday's recon of the cobbles has given him a bit of a morale boost.
"It's hard to compare year on year, but I feel good. In the last few races, I feel like I've been searching for my legs a little bit but I feel like I found them on the cobbles yesterday," Stannard told a small gathering of press at the team's hotel in Kortrijk. "I was a bit apprehensive coming into the cobbles this week, into Roubaix, but I am feeling confident heading into the weekend.
"It's nice to ride those cobbles and I'm really excited to race on Sunday."
Stannard was one of three members of Sky's Roubaix squad that lined up at the mid-week Scheldeprijs. The race was another chance to give him some racing miles ahead of the big day, but he, his teammate Christian Knees, and 33 other riders were all disqualified from the race early after they passed through a level crossing while it was closing. Despite the early departure, Stannard says that incredibly active start to the day gave him enough to build upon.
"It's quite an intense race and I opened up a little bit there," said Stannard before explaining how the incident occurred. "It's a hard situation, the race had just broken into two groups and you're racing full gas on closed roads, your heartbeat is at 180 you're not really looking for red lights on the side of the road. I got on top of the railway and then I saw the barrier coming down, and where can you stop then? It's too late.
"I think it was a good decision to make a bit of a stance about it but maybe the UCI need to think about how to warn us better in advance of a train coming. The UCI need to do something but the riders need to pay more attention."
Should Stannard have another difficult day on Sunday, Team Sky has come to the Classics peppered with options and he thinks that they have the strength to take it to teams such as Quick-Step Floors when it comes to the crunch.
"We've got a really good team, G [Geraint Thomas], Luke [Rowe], and Gianni [Moscon] are going really well. Hopefully, we can get into the final and have a good race," said Stannard.
"We've got to get into the final first, past the forest, but we've got a few cards to play and guys that can go far into the race. I'm looking forward to it. It was interesting riding it the other day. I've ridden it in the winter before, and it was a bit damp, but I've never seen it like it was yesterday. It was interesting to see and it will certainly make it an interesting race. I think the forecast is looking good now and I'm hoping for a dryer race."
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