Preview: Who’s going to win the 2022 men’s Paris-Roubaix?

Here's what you need to know about the 119th edition of the men's 'Hell of the North'.

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This weekend, for the first time since 2019, Paris-Roubaix will be held in its traditional spot on the calendar. As we gear up for Sunday’s race, here’s what you should know about the 119th edition of the men’s Paris-Roubaix.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Abby Mickey’s preview of the 2022 women’s Paris-Roubaix.


CyclingTips star ratings

Let’s get right to it. You can read more about the favourites and other contenders below, but if you’re looking for a quick snapshot, here’s how we rate the chances of various riders:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Van der Poel
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Küng, Laporte, Pedersen
⭐️⭐️⭐️: Turgis, Asgreen, Lampaert
⭐️⭐️: Stybar, Vermeesch, Kristoff, Ganna, Van Baarle
⭐️: Trentin, Campenaerts, Politt

The route

The 2022 men’s Paris-Roubaix spans 257.5 km from Compiègne, just north-east of Paris, to Roubaix in the far north of France. As the riders make their way north, they’ll visit a total of 30 sectors of the region’s infamous cobblestones.

The pavé starts with 160.9 km to go – roughly 100 km into the race – with sector #30, and the sectors count down from there, with a new stretch of pavé arriving every few kilometres or so.

Each sector is given a rating out of five, with one-star sectors being the most placid, and five-star being the most gnarly. As usual there are three, five-star sectors on course: the infamously brutal Trouee d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle, and the Carrefour de l’Arbre. These three are highlighted in the table below.

Sector # Km to go Sector name Length (km) Stars
30 160.9 Troisvilles to Inchy 2.2 ***
29 154.4 Viesly to Quiévy 1.8 ***
28 151.8 Quiévy to Saint-Python 3.7 ****
27 147.1 Saint-Python 1.5 **
26 139.3 Vertain to Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon 2.3 ***
25 133.5 Haussy 0.8 **
24 126.6 Saulzoir to Verchain-Maugré 1.2 **
23 122.3 Verchain-Maugré to Quérénaing 1.6 ***
22 119.6 Quérénaing to Maing 2.5 ***
21 116.5 Maing to Monchaux-sur-Écaillon 1.6 ***
20 103.5 Haveluy to Wallers 2.5 ****
19 95.3 Trouée d’Arenberg 2.3 *****
18 89.3 Wallers to Hélesmes 1.6 ***
17 82.5 Hornaing to Wandignies 3.7 ****
16 75 Warlaing to Brillon 2.4 ***
15 71.6 Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières 2.4 ****
14 65.2 Beuvry-la-Forêt to Orchies 1.4 ***
13 60.2 Orchies 1.7 ***
12 54.1 Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersée 2.7 ****
11 48.6 Mons-en-Pévèle 3 *****
10 42.6 Mérignies to Avelin 0.7 **
9 39.2 Pont-Thibaut to Ennevelin 1.4 ***
8 33.8 Templeuve (L’Épinette) 0.2 *
8 33.3 Templeuve (Moulin-de-Vertain) 0.5 **
7 26.9 Cysoing to Bourghelles 1.3 **
6 24.4 Bourghelles to Wannehain 1.1 ***
5 19.9 Camphin-en-Pévèle 1.8 ****
4 17.2 Carrefour de l’Arbre 2.1 *****
3 14.9 Gruson 1.1 **
2 8.2 Willems to Hem 1.4 **
1 1.4 Roubaix (Espace Charles Crupelandt) 0.3 *

The race

Paris-Roubaix is a hard race to predict. It’s a race of so many variables; a race where success means both being phenomenally strong and avoiding any bad luck in the form of race-ending crashes or mechanical issues – no mean feat.

There’ll be an early breakaway that will lead through the cobble-free opening 100 km and into the early cobblestone sections. As the pavé sectors roll on, we can expect to see the lead group start to splinter, and for the strongest riders behind to start reaching out and eventually catching the frontrunners.

Unlike in most other races though, it wouldn’t be a shock to see a rider or two from the break make it deep into the final on Sunday. For whatever reason, the early break tends to have some success at Roubaix (stay posted to CyclingTips for a great breakdown of this phenomenon, coming soon).

All in all this is an unpredictable race where strange things can happen. Sure, the big names tend to be prominent, but you can bet there’ll also be at least one surprise in the top 10 on Sunday.

The contenders

Here are some of the riders we’d be keeping an eye on.

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) seems likely to start on Sunday as the favourite. In recent weeks he’s taken wins at Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders, and he seems to be in typically imperious form.

Van der Poel was third on debut in last year’s mud-fest, and was beaten in the sprint by both Sonny Colbrellli and Florian Vermeersch. That one stung for Van der Poel and you can bet he’s desperate to win this one. He can take victory with a late attack, or he can win it from a small-group sprint – whatever is required. However this race is decided, Van der Poel should be in the mix.

Van der Poel after last year’s race.

While Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) will start Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, he’ll do so in a support role, having only just recovered from COVID-19. That means Christophe Laporte will get a terrific opportunity to lead Jumbo-Visma at the Queen of the Classics.

In his first season with Jumbo-Visma, the Frenchman has been magnifique, with second at Gent-Wevelgem and E3 Saxo Bank Classic. He was sixth here last year with Cofidis too, so an even better result is a real possibility now that he’s with a much stronger squad. Note that Laporte will also have the support of Nathan Van Hooydonck who’s also had a great spring courtesy of a bunch of aggressive rides.

Laporte (right) finishing second behind teammate Wout van Aert at E3 earlier this spring.

In recent seasons Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) has turned himself into one of the peloton’s most consistent Classics riders. Just this season he’s been fifth at the Tour of Flanders, sixth at Dwars door Vlaanderen, third at E3, and eighth at Amstel Gold Race. Roubaix arguably suits the Swiss powerhouse even more than any of those races.

Küng’s best at Roubaix is 11th (2019) but with the way he’s riding, expect him to go deep into the final on Sunday.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl hasn’t had its best Classics season ever so a good result at Roubaix will be high on the priority list. Kasper Asgreen is perhaps the Belgian’s squad’s biggest hope. The Dane’s been sixth at Amstel and third at Strade Bianche this season and has generally been around the mark, without being exceptional.

Zdenêk Štybar has the best record of anyone on the team with six top-10s and two runner-up finishes. But the Czech rider has had a middling season so far so he’s perhaps not the team’s #1 option. Still, don’t discount the three-time cyclocross world champ’s experience on the pavé.

And Yves Lampaert also deserves a mention. With seventh, third, and fifth at Roubaix he’s got the strength and racecraft to post another good result, if everything lines up for him.

Could Štybar wind back the clock on Sunday?

Former world champ Mads Pedersen headlines a Trek-Segafredo outfit that also includes Jasper Stuyven (fourth at Gent-Wevelgem and ninth in Brugge-De Panne). Pedersen comes to the race after two stage wins at Pays de la Loire (where he would have won the overall were it not for a crash with 4 km to go on the final stage), plus top-eight finishes at Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, and Milan-San Remo. Pedersen has all the tools at his disposal to snag a very good result on Sunday, either solo or in a small-group sprint.

The Ineos Grenadiers have had a very impressive run-in to Roubaix, with Michał Kwiatkowski winning Amstel Gold Race last weekend and Magnus Sheffield taking Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday (after Ineos dominated the front group). Both of those winners are due to race Roubaix on Sunday, so too one of the revelations of the spring, Ben Turner.

But the quality doesn’t stop there. Dylan van Baarle comes into Sunday having finished second at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, eighth at E3, and after a bunch of top-20 finishes. And then there’s the Italian powerhouse Filippo Ganna. While Ganna is yet to finish a Roubaix in two attempts, it would be little surprise to see him go deep on Sunday.

In short, Ineos has perhaps the strongest overall line-up at the race, with multiple options for a great result. Expect to see the British squad well represented in the most important moments, and likely on the podium in some capacity.

At just 22, Ben Turner has had a wonderful spring for Ineos. Big things lie ahead for the Brit … perhaps even on Sunday?

Speaking of strong line-ups, it’s worth keeping an eye on Total Energies. Peter Sagan, Niki Terpstra, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Daniel Oss, Anthony Turgis – that’s quite a collection of names. Granted, most of those riders are past their prime, but there’s a lot of Roubaix experience there; important in a race as difficult and unpredictable as Roubaix. Turgis is perhaps the team’s best option of a strong result, having taken 18th and 13th in his past two editions.

Alexander Kristoff is Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux’s best shot of a top finish, and comes in with promising form. The Stavanger Stallion was 10th at Flanders, 11th at Gent-Wevelgem, and won Scheldeprijs solo. This will be Kristoff’s 12th Paris-Roubaix – he’s one of the most experienced in the field – and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him add another great finish to his two top-10s.

For other riders capable of a strong result, consider the likes of: Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal), who’s posted a handful of top 10s this Classics season; Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) who’s again been around the mark this spring with several top 10s as well; and Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) who’s been seventh and second in the past, and comes in with a fifth in Dwars door Vlaanderen to his name.

And finally, just keep an eye on the early breakaway on Sunday. As noted, it’s via this early move that we’re likely to see several smaller-name riders reach the top 10 come Sunday afternoon.

Weather

After last year’s wet edition, the 2022 men’s Paris-Roubaix looks set to be a considerably drier and more pleasant day for the riders. The weather forecast suggests a sunny day of around 20 ºC (68 ºF) with only a little bit of breeze around. Perfect conditions for bike racing.

We won’t be seeing slop like this in the 2022 edition.

When to watch

The race is set to roll out from Compiègne at 11:00 am local time on Sunday (2 am PDT / 5 am EDT / 7 pm AEST), with the neutral zone ending 15 minutes later.

To catch every single cobblestone sector, you’ll want to tune in around 1:25 pm local time (4:25 am PDT / 7:25 am EDT / 9:25 pm AEST) – that’s when the peloton is expected to reach sector #30. There’s still 160 km to go at that point, but really, if there’s one race all season that you should watch a good chunk of, this is it.

If you’re a little more time-poor, you can probably leave it until the Trouée d’Arenberg to tune in. The riders should get there somewhere around 2:55 pm local time (5:55 am PDT / 8:55 am EDT / 10:55 pm AEST) but tune in a few minutes early to see the mad scramble for position ahead of that sector. There’s 95 km to go at that point.

If that’s still too far out from the finish for your liking, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re watching by the time the riders hit the second five-star sector: the Mons-en-Pévèle with just under 50 km to go. That’ll happen around 3:55 pm local time (6:55am PDT / 9:55am EDT / 11:55pm AEST), and it’s all action from there on out.

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