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Startline Gallery: Paris-Roubaix

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Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ) in his last ever race

Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ) in his last ever race
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Guesdon posterns on the side of the FDJ bus

Guesdon posterns on the side of the FDJ bus
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Ballan and Vansummeren shake hands at the start of Paris-Roubaix

Ballan and Vansummeren shake hands at the start of Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Tony Gallopin (RadioShack)

Tony Gallopin (RadioShack)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ)

Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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George Hincapie (BMC)

George Hincapie (BMC)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Sébastien Rosseler (Garmin-Barracuda) was drafted in at the last minute

Sébastien Rosseler (Garmin-Barracuda) was drafted in at the last minute
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Defending champion Johan Vansummeren makes his way to the start line

Defending champion Johan Vansummeren makes his way to the start line
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Hulsmans and Vansummeren

Hulsmans and Vansummeren
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Hulsmans and Vansummeren

Hulsmans and Vansummeren
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Tony Gallopin (RadioShack)

Tony Gallopin (RadioShack)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda)

Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ)

Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Farnese Vini - Selle Italia bikes

Farnese Vini - Selle Italia bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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FDJ's bikes for Paris-Roubaix

FDJ's bikes for Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Sky's Matthew Haymanhttp://admin.cyclingnews.com/admin/media/add_captions?uploads=31

Sky's Matthew Haymanhttp://admin.cyclingnews.com/admin/media/add_captions?uploads=31
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Bernhard Eisel (Team Sky)

Bernhard Eisel (Team Sky)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Taylor Phinney (BMC)

Taylor Phinney (BMC)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Alessandro Ballan (BMC)

Alessandro Ballan (BMC)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Alessandro Ballan (Ita)

Alessandro Ballan (Ita)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Stuart O'Grady (GreenEdge)

Stuart O'Grady (GreenEdge)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)

Crisp blue skies greeted the peloton at the start of the 110th edition of Paris-Roubaix. Ahead of the field, 257.5km, 27 sectors of cobbles, and the famous velodrome finish.

The Hell of the North is the final cobbled classic of the spring and the air was thick with anticipation and excitement in Compeigne this morning. Defending champion Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda) signed on mid-way through the startline process but the biggest cheers were for two other riders.

Tom Boonen is the outright favourite for his 4th win in the race and will be hoping to make it a Flanders-Roubaix double for the second time in his career.

But Frederic Guesdon was greeted with the most applause, from fans and press alike. The veteran FDJ rider won the race in 1997 and this will be his final race in a long and distinguished career. His teammates and even his boss Marc Madiot sported ‘Merci Fred’ t-shirts in a sign of thanks and although Guesdon is no longer considered a favourite for Roubaix he has etched his mark on the race’s illustrious history.