Five things to look out for at Paris-Roubaix 2022

It's a bit later than usual, but it's finally time for the Hell of the North

Lizzie Deignan
Lizzie Deignan wins the first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It doesn't feel like a year since the last Paris-Roubaix. That's because, unusually, it isn't, with the last edition of The Hell of the North only happening in October.

However, many things have changed since then, and neither the winner of the men's or women's race will be on the startline in Compiègne or Denain, respectively. 

In the place of Lizzie Deignan and Sonny Colbrelli, however, will be a stellar lineup for one of the toughest races of the year. Tour of Flanders winners Lotte Kopecky and Mathieu van der Poel will both be there, as will other stars like Marianne Vos, Filippo Ganna, Elisa Balsamo and Wout van Aert.

Here's some things to watch out for on Saturday for the women's race, and on Sunday for the men's equivalent.

The women's peloton learn from experience

Paris-Roubaix Femmes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The inaugural edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes will live long in the memory: the rain, the mud, the new experience for all 150 riders on the startlist. 24 riders failed to finish, and a staggering 44 women finished outside the time limit. It was a brutal day.

The most memorable thing of the 2021 race, though, was the gall of Lizzie Deignan to attack from so far out (81km!) and solo to victory. That probably won't happen this year, especially as Deignan isn't riding. But also in the dry and with a race's worth of experience in their pocket, the peloton will not allow such a talented rider to escape so early, surely.

While Roubaix really is one of those races where anything can happen, as the cobble sectors come thick and fast, there will probably be more of an attempt to control the race to begin with. It's more likely that we will see a group of favourites go clear and a sprint in the velodrome this time.

In the dry, it's also probable that more riders will finish the race in the time limit, although there may still be lots of crashes and mechanical issues on the way. What's also worth noting is that this year Roubaix comes within the usual swing of the Classics, and so isn't an odd isolated one-off. This means that the plot lines from the season so far are likely to continue on Saturday.

Will Jumbo-Visma or Quick-Step be back in business?

Jumbo-Visma

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Jumbo-Visma looked like they would dominate the Classics season a month ago. Then Wout van Aert caught Covid, his supporting cast failed, understandably, to ride to his level, and cycling moved on quickly, as it always does.

Now Wout is back, although he is not expected to be anywhere near his previous level in his first race after Covid. However, he remains one of the best riders in the world, and could certainly have an impact on Sunday, even if his team continue to downplay it. If he is not the leader, he could still help his teammates out, and in Christophe Laporte and Mike Teunissen, Jumbo have options for the race.

Meanwhile, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl really need to deliver in the Classics. They might be winning elsewhere, but the narrative has set in that they are having a disappointing time due to a lack of results in northern Europe, the races they normally deliver in.

Despite the enormous pressure, the Belgian super team definitely has a chance on Sunday, with their experience possibly telling. In Yves Lampaert, Kasper Asgreen and Florian Sénéchal, there are lots of potential winners in that team.

Ineos Grenadiers continue to be aggressive

Ineos Grenadiers

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Something is radically different at Ineos Grenadiers in the Classics this year. The British squad have not only delivered good results, but have delivered them in an eye-catching manner, racing from the front and making moves rather than following.

They have harnessed the power of young riders, like Ben Turner and Magnus Sheffield, and at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday will be able to draw on the wisdom of older pros like Michał Kwiatkowski, Luke Rowe and Dylan van Baarle.

Then there is Filippo Ganna as well, with the Italian surely an outside bet for the win, despite never finishing the race inside the time limit. They have raced like Quick-Step of old this year, and with a team stacked with talent, look like the Belgian team as well.

Expect fireworks from the first cobbled sector as Ineos really could win from anywhere this time.

Can SD Worx control the race again?

SD Worx

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The strongest team in the women's peloton is without a doubt SD Worx at the moment. The Dutch team performed their plan to perfection at the Tour of Flanders a fortnight ago, and did the same at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday.

They do have weaknesses, as shown at the Amstel Gold Race last weekend, where they failed to make their numbers count as Marta Cavalli won, but they have overwhelming power.

The squad can put someone in every move, and in Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Christine Majerus, and Lotte Kopecky, have three of the favourites for the race. It will be interesting to see if they can control the race as much as they have in the other Classics, or whether the chaos of Roubaix will impact their plans. 

The battle of the rouleurs

Stefan Küng

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you were to ask who the best-looking rider was who hasn't had a win yet this year, I might well say Stefan Küng. The Swiss has looked mightily impressive all season, even climbing with the elite at times, and it has all been pointing to Roubaix.

The pavé suits his powerful riding style, and Groupama-FDJ have looked like they have the form to support him. His best finish at the race might only be 11th, but with his shape this season, he can surely go better on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers is among the favourites for the race, despite never finishing Roubaix inside the time limit. This is due to the sheer power he can put through the pedals, and many think of him as a Roubaix champion-in-waiting. The Italian has been training on the track at home to try and get ready for the efforts that are necessary on the cobbles.

Kasper Asgreen of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl has also looked good this season, even while his team have been faltering, and is another big strong rider who could smash the race to pieces on a particular sector. Between them, this might be a battle of the rouleurs.

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