And if not the Dutch former Roubaix winner, then one rider from his classics-strong Belgian team Quick-Step Floors is expected to win in the velodrome.
After Quick Step, predictions vary widely for the final cobbled classic of the 2018 season. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) won in 2017 by riding clear in a trio that included Zdenek Stybar, second place, and Sebastian Langeveld, third.
Some sport directors on the ground, however, point to others for 2018 like Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac), and of course, world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). We polled some of the insiders to see what they expect. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many backed their own riders to take a cobblestone trophy Sunday.
Addy Engels (LottoNL-Jumbo): Terpstra
“Looking to the previous classics, the winner will have a blue jersey. Looking to the team, they are always the strongest. If he didn’t celebrate too much, I think that Terpstra has shown a great level and that Roubaix even suits him better than Flanders. It’s not a surprising pick, but he will be there for sure.”
Lars Michaelsen (Astana): Terpstra
“My top three: Niki Terpstra, then Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen [both Trek-Segafredo].
“Terpstra is going like a motorbike, he’s not even looking behind. When he goes, he goes. He has confidence. He already won it once, now he won Ronde Van Vlaanderen, so of course, he’s the big favorite.”
Wilfried Peeters (Quick-Step Floors): Terpstra
“The others are Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan, Sep Vanmarcke. Vanmarcke is very good. He didn’t have good luck in the last weeks, but I think he’s one of the guys. We need to beat him.
“As a team, we are the big favorites. All the other teams want to beat us. What we did last week was successful, we are very happy, and with this team, we can also have a good result in Roubaix.
“Our rider? Looking at the situation, we have the four guys from last Sunday who could win. When Niki is strong, with the same legs from last week, then he can have the same result.”
Enrico Poitschke (Bora-Hansgrohe): Sagan
“My favorite is Peter Sagan, but we saw last Sunday how hard it is to win races when every rider watches you. He needs to be with a very small group in the front with the best, only the leaders and no other helpers from teams like Quick-Step, and then he’s strong enough to win. But it’ll be difficult.”
“Most feared rival? Quick-Step is with a lot of guys on the high level, and they did a very good job. It’s not one rider, but one team that’s to beat.”
Herman Friesen (Lotto-Soudal): Gilbert
“Gilbert. That’s who will win on Sunday, one of the monuments that he hasn’t won before. I saw him in Flanders, he has good condition and was always second or third in the big races up to this point. And I know him a little bit, I think that Sunday he’ll win.”
Roger Hammond (Dimension Data): Boasson Hagen
“It’s too early to say. Roubaix is a predictable race, there is only a small amount of people who can win it, then add in weather factors, and you have clearer picture. It’s favoring more the favorites with the conditions, a southerly wind is predicted. It means a fast Roubaix. So the chances of a surprise victory are getting less and less, unfortunately.
“I hope and pray that the dominance of Quick-Step will start to be detrimental to them. Terpstra, Van Avermaet, Sagan… I wouldn’t bet my money on any of them. I know who my money’s on, and he’s in our team and we are working towards that. I don’t even think about the other people to be honest.
“Boasson Hagen? Of course, he’s growing every day, we believe in him, and he’s already proved he can be there. If you can be fifth [in 2016], then you just need your day.”
Servais Knaven (Team Sky): Rowe
“I hope someone will win from Team Sky, of course. We have the legs to win, but we could also finish fifth. Gianni Moscon will be good, Ian Stannard, but if I had to pick one, then I’d say Luke Rowe.
“He’s surprising the whole world being back on the bike that early [after breaking his right leg last summer], even making it through Flanders and now Roubaix. He’s really motivated and it’s a race that suits him. I pick him, it’d be so nice to see happen.
“Maybe I should have picked Wout van Aert because no one puts him under pressure and puts him with the favorite. I’d have a close look at Wout van Aert on Sunday. Maybe I’m the first to say this, but watch out.”