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Teams visit the cobbles for final Paris-Roubaix reconnaissance (in the rain)

Ahead of the 2018 Paris-Roubaix this Sunday, teams and organisers have been out on the cobbles for a rainy ride. Photo: Les Amis

This Sunday sees the best day in the cycling calendar (maybe even the actual calendar) roll round for another year: Paris-Roubaix. Cobbles, dust, pained expressions and live television coverage from start to finish, amazing. Although this year, and for the first time in quite a while, the dust looks like it might turn to mud.

Some of the teams have been out on the course getting a final look at the secteurs before the race, and many of these reconnaissance rides have been conducted under falling rain.

The rain has made the pave even more of a challenge than usual, particularly on the famous Trouee d'Arenberg.

The race's organisers were out on the Trench this morning to show just how wet and muddy it's become as a result of the recent changeable weather.

Peter Sagan was looking relaxed on a drier secteur elsewhere on the race's route. He will once again be a marked man, but unless his rivals give Quick-Step Floors a bit more attention too, no one's going to win from outside of that Classics super-squad.

ProContinental team Vital Concept were out on the five star secteur too, and posted a warning for anyone looking to ride on the famous cobbles this weekend - either in the race or the Paris-Roubaix Challenge sportive.

WorldTour squad LottoNL-Jumbo were also present. The team is expected to be led by sprinter Dylan Groenewegen who could spring a surprise if he can hold on over the cobbles and be there in the velodrome for a reduced bunch sprint.

Marcus Burghardt, German National Champion and chief-domestique for Sagan, explained the cobbles-specific features of his Speciazlied S-Works race machine.

The big German was also asked for his thoughts on the conditions...

A photo posted by Quick-Step Floors highlights efforts made by the organiser of the race to keep riders on the cobbles, and rightly so. This is a Cobbled Classic, and the most important one at that, not a ride-in-the-gutter-near-some-cobbles-Classic.

With any luck, the use of heavy gravel (as seen above) and barriers, as is the norm on the Arenberg, should keep riders on the pave and off the smooth edges.

The keepers of the cobbles - Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix - have been welcomingly active on social media this year, giving fans an inside look at the hard work that goes into keeping the cobbles at their best for the race.

Visiting the Arenberg today, Les Amis got a video of Trek-Segafredo hitting the wet cobbles and speed and making it look easy.

Leading the team is likely to be young Dane Mads Pedersen who took an impressive second place at last weekend's Tour of Flanders.

EF-Drapac were out on the cobbles too, with their team helper making the most of the warmth within a car to snap the riders. Sep Vanmarcke will lead the American squad and is overdue a win.

Team Sky look back at 2016 - when Ian Stannard came third - while looking ahead to 2018 with a voiceover from Luke Rowe. Either of those riders could be the first British winner of the race, and despite breaking his leg on a stag do last year, Rowe appears to be at least near his best.

Paris-Roubaix takes place this Sunday, 8th April 2018, and there's a strong chance it's going to be a wet muddy one.