Paris-Roubaix is back on track following the 2020 cancellation and 2021 postponement. The 119th edition of the Hell of the North returned in 2022 in April and welcomed dry and dusty weather conditions. Departing from Compiègne, 80km to the North East of Paris, the peloton faced a 257,2 km route to Roubaix including 54,8km of cobbles split across 30 sectors.
Hot favourites leading into the race are the showdown-duo, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) but also Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo). The nature of the the most icon day-race is that it is notoriously difficult to predict with race tactics in tatters when a puncture or crash strikes. 169 riders started and the initial breakaway attempts folded until Laurent Pichon (Arkéa-Samsic), Owain Doull (Education First) and Alexandr Riabushenko (Astana) could force a gap after 30km. Just 20km later a split in the peloton saw the breakaway riders pulled back into a group of 70 riders led by teams Ineos Grenadiers, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and BORA-hansgrohe.
The lead group dropped Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel and other key contenders such as Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal) and Christoph Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) and over the next 50km the lead group pushed the gap to 1’30” and maintained an average tempo of of 48,8km but were never really out of sight.
Clément Davy (Groupama-FDJ) abandoned following an early crash and when the riders hit the first cobbles there were crashes in both the main groups. The team support cars not permitted in the gap so riders with technicals in the first group were kept waiting, though this also reduced the motor congestion on the cobbles. In the second cobbled section, the gap between the two groups was reduced back to 35″ though the bumpy surfaces spread the groups out and Team Total Energies rider and 2014 Paris Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra pushed for a solo break. He was caught shortly after by a chase group of 17 riders, Jens Reynders of Team Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise created a new gap before a puncture forced him back.
With 115km to go, a lead group of 18 riders created a 1 minute gap ahead of the Peloton and included a strong representation of riders from teams Ineos Grenadier, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and Total Energies. Five riders, minus anyone from Ineos, then moved to create a new gap of 30 seconds with Davide Ballerini (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious), Casper Pedersen (Team DSM), Tom Devriendt (Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux) and Laurent Pichon (Arkéa-Samsic) who was one one of the earlier break-aways of the race. As the lead group were swallowed, Nils Politt (BORA-hansgrohe) and Conner Swift of Arkéa–Samsic sought to bridge the gap.
The race speed remained high with an incredible 47kmh average after 150km in the legs. Entering the iconic d’Arenberg pavé, 5 riders maintained a 2 minute lead over the peloton with Politt and Swift still trying to close the gap but remaining a minute down. From the peloton five riders including Michal Kwiatkowski, Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Jasper Stuyven (Groupama-FDJ) sought to break away in d’Arenberg and could catch Politt while Pedersen falls back to the peloton and Bellerini who was at the front fell back to join Swift. Just three riders, Mohorič, Devriendt and Pichon remain in the lead as the main peloton continues to loose riders leaving about 50 riders still on the attack.
From the pavé d’Orchies with around 60km to the finish, 12 riders including favourites Wout van Aert, van der Poel, Stefan Küng, Dylan van Baarle and Jasper Stuyven opened up a gap ahead of the peloton. A counter-attract from Van Baarle saw him solo ahead to chase down the three race leaders which was soon reduced to two as Pichon struggled on the cobbles. The chase group split on the section 11 cobbles Mons-en-Pévèle leaving Küng, van Aert and van der Poel together to bridge across to van Baarle. The four riders slowed and were joined by four chasers, Ben Turner (Ineos Grenadiers), Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) Adrien Petit (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) and Jasper Stuyven before van Aert got a puncture though was able to quickly change bikes with 39km.
The dust kept the cobbles slippery and the support and team cars kicked-up clouds of dust for riders following. In the lead, Mohorič suffered a puncture leaving just Tom Devriendt with 35″ ahead of the chase riders of 10 riders, including Wout van Aert who was able to join again after his puncture. Adrien Petit tries to keep the pace down to protect his team mate in front though a series of counter-attacks prevents him from slowing the group too much, though the overall average race speed has dipped to 46kmh.
Mohorič crosses the gap again back to Devriendt, bringing Lampaert as the race favourites regroup after the section 7 pavé de Cysoing à Bourghelles and pick up their cat and mouse games, vying for position and a clean break. Van Baarle is allowed to surge ahead again with 25km and joins the front of the race who now total four riders with 35″ lead on the seven chasers.
With just over 20km, van Aert drew forward with Küng and Stuyven, but a puncture puts Stuyven behind again into the section 5 Camphin-en-Pévèle pavé. Ineos Grenadier rider van Baarle makes a decisive attack and opening up a 45″ gap as the chase group start to drop off and he is trailed by Mohorič and Lampaert who have a fairly short lead over van Aert, Küng and Devriendt. With 7km to the finish, a spectator knocks Lampaert who then suffers a nasty crash and falls behind and out of contention.
Just 4km from the finish, van Baarle is d almost 1’30” ahead of the chasers and a Dutch victory for Ineos Grenadier seems certain. The pace behind surges though van der Poel is further back and too far behind for a podium, the second and third places will be challenged by van Aert, Küng, Mohorič and Devriendt.
Van Baarle enters the Roubaix Velodrom alone for a solo victory after 5h37’00” and also marks the fastest ever Paris-Roubaix with an average speed of 45.7kmh. Following are the four chasers who enter a minute after van Baarle wins for the lap-and-a-half. Küng is the first to sprint but is caught by van Aert on the line who takes second place, leaving 3rd to Küng. A very and honorable mention should be give to Devriendt in 4th and Mohorič in 5th who spent a lot of time leading the race.
The Paris-Roubaix, let alone pro cycling racing is back on schedule after the disruptions from Covid and the most iconic one day race was a success for the women in cycling who have welcome growing coverage and for the men who can settle back into a race schedule with fewer interruptions. The crowds were not as chaotic as in previous years and it was a fairly well behaved race from the spectators side, excepting the elderly gentleman who knocked Lampaert in the closing kilometers.
2022 Paris-Roubaix Rankings
- Dylan Van Baarle INEOS GRENADIERS 05h 37′ 00″
- Wout Van Aert JUMBO – VISMA + 01′ 47″
- Stefan Küng GROUPAMA – FDJ + 01′ 47″
- Tom Devriendt INTERMARCHE – WANTY – GOBERT MATERIAUX + 01′ 47″
- Matej Mohoric BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS + 01′ 47″
- Adrien Petit INTERMARCHE – WANTY – GOBERT MATERIAUX + 02′ 27″
- Jasper Stuyven TREK – SEGAFREDO + 02′ 27″
- Laurent Pichon TEAM ARKEA – SAMSIC + 02′ 27″
- Mathieu Van Der Poel ALPECIN – FENIX + 02′ 34″
- Yves Lampaert QUICK-STEP ALPHA VINYL TEAM + 02′ 59″
Title Photos + 1,2, 3 © A.S.O./Pauline Ballet
Photos 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 © bicycles.net.au