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"They say I'm the man to beat but really I think it's now up to the others to show their cards. I've won this race before, I've won those great classics in the past, I've already won one this year. I could be conten...

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FABIAN CANCELLARA

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JOHAN VAN SUMMEREN

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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PARIS - ROUBAIX

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PETER SAGAN

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12.04.2014 @ 19:20 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Three-times Paris-Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara is everybody's favourite and can eye several records should he win for a record-equalling four times on the Roubaix velodrome on Sunday.

 

But the Swiss made it clear history was not his priority on the eve of the start in Compiegne.

 

“To be honest, you don't really think about records before the race. It's something you think about after the race, when it's done. Before the race, it's all about concentration,” said Spartacus, boosted by his Tour of Flanders victory last weekend. The Trek Factory Racing team leader made it clear it was now up to his rivals to lift the gauntlet in the Hell of the North. “They say I'm the man to beat but really I think it's now up to the others to show their cards. I've won this race before, I've won those great classics in the past, I've already won one this year. I could be content with just a waiting game,” he said.

 

Winner of the GP E3, Peter Sagan adopts a low profile when it comes to Paris-Roubaix.

 

"It's my third participation. In the first, I gave up and in the second I was just content with finishing," he recalled. "As a result, I can say that anybody can beat Sagan on this race," the Slovak joked. Among the other riders with an outside chance features Norway's Alexander Kristoff, the Milan-San Remo winner. "Paris-Roubaix is my last race in Spring. I'm not the kind of riders to attack from afar, rather one to follow. I will stay with Cancellara if I'm strong enough," he said.

 

Gent-Wevelgem winner John Degenkolb is convinced he can play a part in Paris-Roubaix, his last classic of the Spring season.

 

“It's been a long classics season and I'm glad it's over in a way and the best way to finish would be to do well here tomorrow,” said the Giant Shimano sprinter.

“It's never easy to say things like this by I think Roubaix suits me better than Flanders,” said the German rider, winner of Paris-Tours in 2013, who finished 15th last week in the Ronde. “Last week I managed to stay with the best for a long time but in the finale I had no strength left. I'm still in pretty good form now and I'm confident I can stay in the leading group as long as possible. Then we'll see what happens,” he added. Whatever the outcome, Degenkolb is definite: “This is the most beautiful race!”

 

2011 Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansumeren still bears the scars of his awful crash in last week's Tour of Flanders on his cheeks but is now using his time on the bike as a way to overcome the hard times hoping to be as strong as he was three years ago.

 

“It's hard. But I'm better off on the bike then staying at home behind closed doors. It's a way to forget what happened. I'm staying in contact on the phone,” said the 33-year-old Belgian about the 65-year-old woman he hit during the Ronde and who was till in critical condition in a hospital in Kortrijk. The victim's husband vowed for Vansummeren to race in the Queen of Classics and to win it again as a tribute to his wife. “Of course I want to win it badly. That's what I have been training for all winter. I'm in good shape and in any case I'm planning to ride a solid race, to stay with the best and see what happens. Nothing's guaranteed on Paris-Roubaix but I believe it's possible,” the Garmin Sharp rider said.

 

“The Hell of the North” is not exclusively reserved for the professionals. This morning, more than 3,500 riders from 35 countries gathered for the lifetime experience of riding on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix for the 4th year in succession. The bravest left Roubaix at dawn by shuttle for Busigny, starting point of a 166-kms ordeal comprising the same 51.1-kms and 28 sections of cobbles as the pro race. Two circuits (70 km and 141 km) were also organised starting from Roubaix.

 

Every rider had the chance to live the unique emotion of entering the mythical velodrome and to finally wash up in the historical showers. For the first time, the amateurs also had a chance to time their performances on the portions of Quevy, the Arenberg Trench and Carrefour de l’Arbre. Tomorrow, plenty of them will be on the roadside to cheer Cancellara, Boonen, Wiggins and the rest of the field!

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