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Former cobbles king Terpstra can rain on Boonen’s parade

Flanders crash could affect favourite Sagan

Niki Terpstra looks on during the Tour of Qatar
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Eurosport 1, 9.45am

Racing has the Grand National, Golf the Masters and for cycling fans Paris-Roubaix is the traditionalists’ race of choice.

Just as at Aintree and Augusta, legends of the sport are forged on the unforgiving cobbled roads of northern France with the list of victors reading like a who’s who of the sport.

One such rider, Tom Boonen, who has won the Monument on a joint-record four occasions, lines up for the final time as a professional with the QuickStep rider 9-2 second favourite to bow out in style.

World champion Peter Sagan, in his customary position as race favourite, is the only rider shorter than the Belgian in the market but it remains to be seen whether the Slovak’s crash at last Sunday’s Tour of Flanders has taken his toll.

In any case, the Hell of the North has been Sagan’s weakest of the five Monuments with just one top-ten finish in five attempts, so at 4-1 his price is skinny enough for such a demanding test.

Boonen undoubtedly has the credentials and the motivation to triumph but he too is perhaps short enough so at much bigger odds teammate and 2014 champion Niki Terpstra looks a viable each-way alternative.

With the peloton eyeing Boonen’s potential move, Terpstra was allowed rope to launch a decisive attack three years ago and he should be in a position to profit again should a similar scenario unfold on the run-in to the Roubaix velodrome this year.

The Dutchman goes into the race in fine form having finished fourth at Gent-Wevelgem and third at Flanders.

AG2R La Mondiale rider Oliver Naesen has had a strong classics campaign over the spring and the Belgian could outrun large odds.
Naesen has four top-ten finishes in one-day classics to his name this season and was a creditable 13th on just his second attempt in this race in 2016. 

Recommendations
N Terpstra
1pt each-way 16-1 general
O Naesen
0.5pt each-way 25-1 Betfair, Paddy Power

The Dutchman goes into the race in fine form having finished fourth at Gent-Wevelgem and third at Flanders
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