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A soft spot? No, just a scratch. But the wheel...

Gallery: Ride along with Omega Pharma’s final Paris-Roubaix recon

Go inside with Tom Boonen and Co. as they check and double check tire pressures, ride the Arenberg, and motorpace on the cobbles
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: The sights
Northern France isn’t beautiful in the way of the Dolomites or the Mediterranean. It has no rocky coasts or stunning peaks, it has only its own particular kind of beauty. It is stark, hard under foot and soft overhead. This is a difficult place, and even a short ride through it proves the point quickly. On Friday morning, VeloNews joined Omega Pharma-QuickStep on its final pre-Paris Roubaix recon ride. It was a last chance to test equipment and get a feel for how the cobbles will feel on race day; one last chance to prepare for what lies ahead. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: En route
Thursday and Friday are recon days in northern France, the last days classics teams will hit race-day cobbles. Omega Pharma-QuickStep performed its recon on Friday morning, gathering the team together at its hotel in Kortrijk, Belgium and driving an hour south, to the start of the Wallers sector, just before the Arenberg forest. The team rode from that point to a small pub just before the start of the Carrefour de l’Arbe, where they again hopped back in the cars and back to the hotel for an afternoon press conference. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Last-minute location change
The team had a parking lot set aside near the Arenberg, but made a detour at the last minute and grabbed a spot about 10 minutes away to try to evade some of the media and fan clamor. Once parked, mechanics scrambled to get team bikes set up while the riders waiting until go time with their feet up inside the team bus. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Tire pressure
The latex-tubed tubulars the team uses lose air quickly, so they need to be topped up perfectly at the start of every ride. When asked what tire pressure they were using, the mechanics said between 5.5 and 6 bar. But when I watched the pump, they were only putting 4.5 bar in — about 65 psi. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Brake clearance
OPQS is running a new tire for this year’s Paris-Roubaix, a combination of casing from boutique manufacturer FMB and Specialized’s Gripton tread and rubber compound. The result, Specialized says, is a 30mm tubular that has rolling resistance as low as FMB’s usual 25mm tubular. The team is running 28mm tires up front and 30mm on the rear, a combination the team settled on after testing last fall. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Custom tires
Last year, the team rode 27mm FMB tubulars. This year most of the team is on a 30mm rear, which barely clears the SRAM Red brakes. In the even of rain and mud they would likely use a 28mm rear to prevent the rear tire from locking up against the brake. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Stybar relaxed
With Roubaix still two days away riders were relaxed as they came out of the bus and made a final inspection of their bikes. Zdenek Stybar is usually extra relaxed. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Measure
Measure twice, ride once. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen holds court
The last-minute location change didn’t keep the press at bay, but Tom Boonen is very professional and rarely minds holding court for a minute or two. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Double checking
Double checking everything. The brakes, and their tight fit to the tires, seemed of particular worry to the riders. None had problems during recon though, and as far as we saw the team suffered zero flat tires or other issues. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen relaxing
Everything good, Tom? Yep. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Arenberg Forest
As the riders rolled out, we bolted in cars to the exit of the Arenberg. Fans know that riders will be out this day, so they come to watch. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen leads in the forest
Boonen led over the Arenberg. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen, Terpstra go
A few minutes of fun for Niki Terpstra and Tom Boonen, as the two hit Warlaing at full gas. They paced off a moto for just over 10 minutes, opening up the legs for the weekend. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Dry, dry conditions
Northern France is dry, and is forecasted to stay dry through the weekend. That means dust, and lots of it. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen, Terpstra lead
Terpstra and Boonen on the cobbles. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Team follows
Followed closely by the rest of the team. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Pit stop
A quick stop for new bottles, tire checks, and banter. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Dirty brakes
Not quite as clear as it was an hour ago. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Keisse bike change
Iljo Keisse took a bike change half way through, though his first bike did not appear to have any issue. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Push into traffic
Never miss an opportunity to practice a push, even if it’s into traffic. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Team together
All together for the final sectors. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Dusty
Dust, dust everywhere. The riders don’t kick up too much but all the vehicles do. Even the front riders will be going through thick dust on Sunday as they follow all the motos and cars. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Mild weather
Couldn’t have asked for better recon ride weather. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: In traffic
Open roads mean a bit of extra danger on recon day. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Big tires, big stones
30mm tires working well. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Terpstra and mechanic
Terpstra confers with a mechanic post ride. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Inspecting tires
Wheels and tires are all-important at Roubaix, and get the closest inspection after the recon. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Inspecting wheels
A soft spot? No, just a scratch. But the wheel will be pulled out of rotation anyway, just to be sure. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix recon with Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Load up
Ride finished, just before Carrefour. Bikes back on the roof, riders back in the bus, and back to Kortrijk for a press conference. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com