With Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen both missing Paris-Roubaix just two former winners will line up for the 'Hell of the North' this Sunday. Niki Terpstra will start as a favourite for back-to-back wins after his second place finish at the Tour of Flanders while 2011 winner Johan Vansummeren will be aiming to get his first victory with Ag2r-La Mondaile but there are numerous riders capable of adding their names to the illustrious list of winners
The 253km race features 27 sectors, or 57.5km, of pavé this year with the Trouée d'Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and Le Carrefour de l'Arbre all receiving five star ratings. The decisive Carrefour de l'Arbre sector is located just 17km from the finish and ASO's Thierry Gouvenou is expecting the 2100 meters of pave to cause one final selection.
"With time, the Carrefour de l'Arbre has got harder and harder. In terms of difficulty, it’ll be right up there with the Arenberg Forest this year. Over the whole sector, I don’t think there’s a single level cobblestone," Gouvenou said.
Just as the Tour of Flanders was an open race without Cancellara and Boonen, Paris-Roubaix will be a similar affair. However as the race is the last of the cobbled classics of the season, Paris-Roubaix will be the last roll of the dice for the classics men such as Peter Sagan and Sep Vanmarcke, and for Etixx-Quick Step to make its mark on the classics. Alexander Kristoff and John Degenkolb will both be looking for their second monuments of the season and pose dangerous threats should they arrive at the finish in a small bunch.
Paris-Roubaix will be Bradley Wiggins' last race for Team Sky and the 2012 Tour de France champion is dreaming of a fairytale finish and along with teammate Geraint Thomas will be favourites for victory.
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