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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Gianni Moscon looks the value pick in Paris-Roubaix

Team Sky racer was fifth on debut in brutal one-day race

Gianni Moscon (middle) has focused on the race since finishing eighth in the E3 Harelbeke a fortnight ago
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Race starts 9.10am Sunday
Live on Eurosport 2 from 10am

Welcome to Hell.

It's a sentiment that means different things to different athletes but for cyclists there is one race above all others that stirs emotions of fear and trepidation.

Covering 257km and comprising 29 cobbled or unpaved sections, Paris-Roubaix is widely regarded as the toughest one-day race on the calendar with good fortune often proving just as important as form and tactics.

Since the first edition of the race in 1895, the brutal test has earned Paris-Roubaix the name the 'Hell of the North'. Indeed former winner Sean Kelly once described the race as "a horrible race to ride but the most beautiful one to win".

Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet crowned a golden classics campaign last year to take victory in the famous Roubaix velodrome but if the Belgian is to retain his title he knows he will have to thwart a Quick-Step Floors team who have swept all before them in one-day races this spring.

Over the past two weeks alone, Quick-Step have won four classics including last week's Tour of Flanders with Niki Terpstra. And in Terpstra, winner of Paris-Roubaix in 2014, and Philippe Gilbert they have two trump cards to play.

However, Terpstra has not finished the race in the past two years and Gilbert hasn't ridden Paris-Roubaix in 11 years.

Peter Sagan again heads the market but this has been by far his worst Monuments event. The world champion managed sixth in 2014 but his other five appearances have yielded results of DNF-86-23-11-38.

Given the unpredictable nature of the race it could be wise to pick out a bigger-priced runner and Gianni Moscon fits the bill.

Moscon, who races for Team Sky, was fifth on his Roubaix debut last year and has focused on the race since finishing eighth in the E3 Harelbeke a fortnight ago.

The punchy Italian finished third at the final Monument of 2017, Il Lombardia, showing his liking for races of this nature.

Another to look out for is former world cyclocross champions Wout van Aert, who has made a seamless transition to the road this year. A win on his debut may be beyond him but he has the skills to thrive in this unique test.

Recommendation
G Moscon
1pt each-way 28-1 Betway


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former winner Sean Kelly once described the race as "a horrible race to ride but the most beautiful one to win"
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