Dylan van Baarle rode into the history books on Sunday when he won the fastest edition of Paris-Roubaix by completing the 257.2-kilometre cobbled classic at an average speed of 45.8km/h.
It was the nature of Van Baarle’s win, though, that impressed more than the speed of the flying Dutchman who secured the biggest one-day race in British team Ineos Grenadiers’s history.
Despite having won 11 grand tours since forming as Team Sky in 2010 – six Tours de France, three Giro d’Italia and two Vuelta a España titles – Ineos Grenadiers had failed to crack the code needed to win cobbled monuments Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Following a stellar classics campaign in which they had won Amstel Gold Race (Michal Kwiatkowski) and De Brabantse Pijl (Magnus Sheffield), as well as a runners-up spot at the Tour of Flanders (Van Baarle), Ineos Grenadiers arrived on Sunday brimming with confidence.
Over 200km from the finishing line and with 54.8km of bone-rattling cobblestones ahead of them, Ineos Grenadiers blew the race apart with an opportunistic move that caused a huge split in the peloton. Assisted by crosswinds and with pre-race favourites Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert having missed the move, Ineos Grenadiers’s entire squad of seven riders set about doing serious damage to their rivals.
Winning at Paris-Roubaix, though, can be as much about luck as judgment and when there was a huge pile-up 145km from the finish, Ineos Grenadiers’s day appeared scuppered. Despite losing momentum, though, Van Baarle and team-mates Filippo Ganna, and Briton Ben Turner regrouped before the Dutchman later bridged over to a leading trio of Matej Mohoric, Yves Lampaert and Tom Devriendt with 25km to go.
A flurry of digs followed, but the decisive blow came from Van Baarle who rode away from the small group 19km from the line on the approach to the fearsome section of cobbles on Carrefour de l’Arbre.
While behind him chaos ensued with riders crashing, puncturing and losing contact with their rivals, Van Baarle appeared a picture of calmness and ticked off each sector of cobbles, edging ever nearer to the Velodrome Andre-Petrieux where, with his face caked in dust, he fell into the arms of team boss Sir Dave Brailsford.
“It’s unbelievable,” Van Baarle said. “I looked on the other side to see if there were other guys but it was just me. I had never experienced being the first guy on the velodrome. Last year I was out of the time limit but this year it was different.”
Dylan van Baarle wins Paris-Roubaix: As it happened . . .
Emotional scenes in Roubaix
Kurt Bogaerts, the sporting director at Ineos Grenadiers, gives a brief, but very emotional, interview to Eurosport following Dylan van Baarle’s win. “I can’t say much,” said Bogaerts, before adding “it’s too much” and breaking down in tears.
Van Aert takes second; Küng is third
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) sprints to take second place ahead of Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), while Tom Devriendt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) misses out on a podium finishing in fourth.
Van Baarle wins Paris-Rouabix!
What a thoroughly deserved win fro the Dutchman. Sir Dave Brailsford is stood track centre ready to welcome Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), embracing the victor who is caked in dust and sweat but has a huge look of relief, pain and elation etched across his face.
Section 1: Roubaix (Espace Crupelandt) – 1.4km to go
Dylan van Baarle rides down the final section of cobbles towards certain victory. This will be the fastest ever race in the race’s 119 editions. But for Ineos Grenadiers and the Dutchman that will matter little.
5km to go
Back at the front of the race, Dylan van Baarle’s lead has grown to over a minute.
Oh no. That is just awful. Yves Lampaert has crashed after a roadside spectator takes him out, leaning forward into the riders’ line while, I think, clipping the Belgian’s handlebars.
Section 2: Willems to Hem – 8.2km to go
Dylan van Baarle leads by 58sec as he hits the penultimate section of cobbles – the last one is ridiculously easy so doesn’t really count. Barring a mechanical disaster or crash the Dutchman should be taking he win today.
9.5km to go
Yves Lampaert and Matej Mohoric are chatting with each other, but the pair have lost time on race leader Dylan van Baarle who must, surely, be minutes away from winning Paris-Roubaix.
Section 3: Gruson – 14.9km to go
Dylan van Baarle is onto the third from last section of cobbles and he is looking good here today. Wout van Aert and Stefan Küng are in pursuit and have just picked up Tom Devriendt, but the trio trail by over 50sec. Yves Lampaert and Matej Mohoric, meanwhile, are the second group on the road at 20sec.
14.5km to go
Mathieu van der Poel is hammering it on his lonesome on Carrefour de l’Arbre, but he trails compatriot Dylan van Baarle by over a minute.
Section 4: Carrefour de l’Arbre – 17.2km to go
Dylan van Baarle the Dutchman is flying, can he go all the way and do what Ineos Grenadiers (and Team Sky) have never done and win a cobbled monument? A huge opportunity this and, one suspects, the mechanics in the team car will be hoping there is no repeat of last year’s finale when Gianni Moscon punctured.
18km to go
Dylan van Baarle is the lone leader. Further back his team-mate Ben Turner hits the deck on a right hander.
19km to go
Dylan van Baarle, again, presses hard down on the pedals, the injection in pace enough to see a split in the group. Tom Devriendt is struggling and looks to be paying the price for a big day in the saddle.
20km to go
Dylan van Baarle, Yves Lampaert, Matej Mohoric and Tom Devriendt are working together, holding onto their advantage of around 30sec on Wout van Aert and Stefan Küng after Jasper Stuyven lost contact following yet another puncture.
23km to go – Van der Poel is dropped
Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) attacks off the front of the chasing group, before Wout van Aert responds and only Stefan Küng is able to respond. It very much looks like Mathieu van der Poel is cooked, his day is over after he was unable to respond to Van Aert’s acceleration.
Section 6: Bourghelles to Wannehain – 24.4km to go
Dylan van Baarle drifts, not for the first time today, off the front of the group gaining a bike length or two on the trio of Yves Lampaert, Matej Mohoric and Tom Devriendt. One suspects, however, that they will be doing whatever they can to rein in the Dutchman.
25.5km to go
Dylan van Baarle has managed to bridge over to the race leaders. This quartet including Yves Lampaert, Matej Mohoric and Tom Devriendt will have to work together now if they are going to hold off the chasing group.
Section 7: Cysoing to Bourghelles – 26.9km to go
Doncaster’s Ben Turner is sat near the back of the group of hitters alongside Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel. The 22-year-old will not have to do any of the chasing thanks to his team-mate Dylan van Baarle being up the road.
27km to go
Yves Lampaert and Matej Mohoric bridge over to Tom Devriendt at the head of the race, the trio leading Dylan van Baarle by around 9sec, while Wout van Aert’s group is another 15sec down the road.
29km to go
Yves Lampaert puts in an attack, taking with him Matej Mohoric. Dylan van Baarle follows, but there is a slight gap between the Dutchman and that counter-attacking pair.
30km to go
Seven more sections of cobbles remain, including the dreaded Carrefour de l’Arbre that ends just over 15km from the finishing line.
31.5km to go
All change on the front of the chasing group, with Wout van Aert taking over at the pointy end for a minute or so before Dylan van Baarle takes a turn.
Section 8: Templeuve – 33.8km to go
Mathieu van der Poel is looking lively, the Dutchman taking over on the front of the chasing group who trail race leader Tom Devriendt by 25sec.
35km to go
Stefan Küng puts in an acceleration, taking with him Matej Mohoric. But Wout van Aert does not give an inch and chases the pair down and is followed by the 22-year-old Yorkshireman Ben Turner who is racing his first year as a professional.
36.5km to go
Matej Mohoric is caught by Mathieu van der Poel and the rest of the hitters, minus Wout van Aert who is working his way through the cars and not too far away from getting back on. Tom Devriendt, meanwhile, who has just two wins on his palmarès – a stage at Int. Österreich-Rundfahrt-Tour of Austria and Omloop van het Houtland Lichtervelde – leads Paris-Roubaix by 35sec.
37.5km to go – Devriendt leads the race
Tom Devriendt is the lone leader after Matej Mohoric is forced into stopping after puncturing.
38km to go
Wout van Aert is around 10sec down on Mathieu van der Poel, Stefan Küng and another seven riders.
Section 9: Pont-Thibaut to Ennevelin – 39.2km to go
Disaster for Wout van Aert. The Belgian champion has had another mechanical, a rear puncture I think, and is forced to stop and take a bike change. Further up the road Matej Mohoric and Tom Devriendt are on to the latest section of cobbles and the pair are holding on to a lead of around 40sec.
Section 10: Mérignies to Avelin – 42.6km to go
Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Stefan Küng bridge over to Laurent Pichon and Dylan van Baarle, the quintet now 38sec off the pace of race leaders Matej Mohoric and Tom Devriendt.
45.5km to go
Wout van Aert has clipped off the front of his group. After appearing to have dropped his old rival Mathieu van der Poel, the Dutchman bridged over to the Jumbo-Visma rider along with a very strong-looking Stefan Küng. The trio have taken a handful of seconds out of the race leaders, trailling now by 38sec.
46km to go
Laurent Pichon is dropped by Matej Mohoric and Tom Devriendt. Dylan van Baarle, who finished second at the Tour of Flanders a fortnight ago, is chasing at 33sec.
Section 11: Mons-en-Pévèle – 48.6km to go
Matej Mohoric’s trio lead Dylan van Baarle by 40sec as they hit the gnarly five-star section of cobbles. A 10-man group comprising Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Florian Sénéchal (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Yves Lampaert (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Ben Turner (Ineos Grenadiers), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Adrien Petit (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Alpecin-Fenix) follow at 55sec.
50km to go
Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) rolls off the front of the chasing group, the Dutchman off in pursuit of race leaders whose advantage has dropped to below a minute now.
Section 12: Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersée – 54.1km to go
Matej Mohoric leads the way over the four-star section. The advantage held by the trio of Mohoric, Laurent Pichon and Tom Devriendt has dropped further still to 1min 12sec.
55km to go
Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) now leads the chasing group, just ahead of young Briton Ben Turner. Mathieu van der Poel is in this group of classics specialists
56.9km to go
Nathan Van Hooydonck peels off the front of the chasing group, replaced by Wout van Aert. Dylan van Baarle is tucked in behind the Belgian champion. Another five or six seconds are taken out of the race leaders.
57.5km to go
The Nathan Van Hooydonck-powered group has taken 30sec out of the leading trio of Matej Mohoric, Laurent Pichon and Tom Devriendt.
Van Aert looking poised
Wout van Aert is second wheel as the chasing group hits Orchies, the Belgian is sat on the wheel of team-mate Nathan Van Hooydonck. No sign of Mathieu van der Poel.
Section 13: Orchies – 60.2km to go
A wide exposed section that runs parallel with a motorway. The three-star section is where Tom Boonen attacked a decade ago, but I’m not sure we will be seeing a repeat of that spectacular feat here today.
62km to go
Alpecin-Fenix, Ineos Grenadiers and Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl all have riders up near the tip of the chasing group, while Wout van Aert looks comfortable at around 10th wheel, monitoring the situation and looking happy to allow his rivals’ teams to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. For now.
64km to go
Time for Ineos Grenadiers to take over on the front of the chasing group. Definitely getting the feeling that there are some nervous riders in the second group.
Section 14: Beuvry-la-Forêt to Orchies – 65.2km to go
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Florian Sénéchal (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) and Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) put is a little attack off the front of what is now the second group on the road, but the trio was quickly closed down. No change at the front with Matej Mohoric, Laurent Pichon and Tom Devriendt still leading by around 2min.
Section 15: Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières – 71.6km to go
Matej Mohoric, whose Bahrain Victorious team-mate Sonny Colbrelli won this race back in October, hits the latest section of cobbles on the front. Can the Slovenian win the second monument of his career here today? He’s a canny rider and is constantly talking to his fellow riders, no doubt issuing instruction and tactics while encouraging them to work together.
73km to go
Ineos Grenadiers have shifted towards the front of the third group, conscious that Matej Mohoric, who is in the leading trio on the road, is the kind of rider that if given too much leeway can ride all the way to the line. After all the hard work done earlier in the day, Ineos Grenadiers will not want to lose this today without a fight.
74km to go
Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) is spotted at the roadside, presumably the Swiss has suffered a mechanical issue of some kind. There have been reports that Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) has abandoned, but no confirmation from race organisers or his team.
78km to go
Nad then there were three: Matej Mohoric, Laurent Pichon and Tom Devriendt lead the race, the trio has an advantage of a shade over two minutes on the pre-race favourites. Connor Swift and Nils Pollit, meanwhile, have been caught by the second group on the road.
Section 17: Hornaing to Wandignies – 82.5km to go
At 3.7km this four-star section of cobbles is the longest in the race. Matej Mohoric is looking relatively relaxed, and why not: the Slovenian is leading pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel by 1min 55sec.
83km to go – Van Aert closes the gap
Wout van Aert has managed to bridge over to the large chasing group containing his old rival Mathieu van der Poel.
85km to go
A brief easing of hostilities in the Mathieu van der Poel group is playing into the hands of Wout van Aert who should be able to bridge over to the group of pre-race favourites. There are a few Jumbo-Visma riders at the head of Van der Poel’s group and so they were able to disrupt its rhythm.
87km to go
Ineos Grenadiers have Filippo Ganna, Michal Kwiatkowski, Ben Turner and Dylan van Baarle in the third group on the road alongside Mathieu van der Poel. Wout van Aert is further down the road following that bike change a few minutes ago.
Section 18: Wallers to Hélesmes – 89.3km to go
Wout van Aert pulls over to take a bike change, but his team-mate Christophe Laporte does not stop to help him chase back on. Interesting.
90km to go
The race leaders, chasers and third group ion the road have navigated the Trouée d’Arenberg. Matej Mohoric’s quartet now leads by 1min 11sec. Davide Ballerini and Connor Swift are the second pair on the road, while further back it is carnage. Riders are splintered all over the place.
93.5km to go
Wout van Aert is spotted at the rear of the third group on the road,a round 2min off the front of the race, and the Belgian national champion looks to be labouring. Van Aert, as you probably know, has not raced for a few weeks after testing positive for Covid and arrived today with question marks over his form.
94km to go
Davide Ballerini has flatted, the Italian’s rear tyre has gone. They say you cannot win Paris-Roubaix on this 2.3km-long stretch of hellish road, but you can lose it.
Section 19: Trouée d’Arenberg – 95.3km to go
Down the slight downhill road of smooth asphalt go the leading quintet of riders, over the train track at high speed they go before hitting the first five-star cobbles of today’s race. They will have hit those horrible stones at around 60kmh and will feel every vibration of each and every cobble through their wrists, feet, shoulders and back. Huge crowds line the right-hand side of the stretch that is affectionately known as ‘the trench’.
97.5km to go
Not too far from the dreaded section of cobbles, the fabled and feared Trouée d’Arenberg.
100km to go
Section 20 is completed and the quintet containing Matej Mohoric leads Nils Politt and Connor Swift by 35sec.
Section 20: Haveluy to Wallers – 103.5km to go
Former British national champion Connor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic) and Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) clip off the second group on the road, off in pursuit of race leaders as they head towards the next section of cobbles, the four-star road to Wallers. Politt, of course, was runner-up here in 2019.
106km to go
Dylan van Baarle punctures and requires a bike change. The Ineos Grenadiers taem car wastes little time in getting the Dutchman back on the road, but it looks like he may be getting caught soon by the third group on the road that features Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert.
110km to go
Hello, what’s this? A small five-man group containing Matej Mohoric has drifted off the front of the race. Laurent Pichon (Arkéa-Samsic), who was in the first breakaway of the day, is also there alongside the Slovenian, as is Davide Ballerini (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Tom Devriendt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Casper Pedersen (DSM).
114km to go
Just over 10km to the next four-star section of cobbles (Haveluy to Wallers) which will be follwed by the Trouée d’Arenberg. The leading group has started to string out a little, while Filippo Ganna has managed to latch onto the back of the group.
117.7km to go
Oh no, heartbreak for Jens Reynders who has had a puncture. Neutral service jump off the motorbike to help him with a new wheel, but the monument debutant remained rooted to the floor dead centre of a narrow stretch of cobbles. Thankfully, once the speeding pack caught him they swerved around him to avoid a nasty crash.
118km to go
Jens Reynders, the 23-year-old who is making his Paris-Roubaix debut today, has gained 30sec on the chasing group. One suspects the Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise rider will be getting caught, but who knows?
120km to go
Filippo Ganna is forced to stop, looks like his chain slipped. The Italian was fortunately alongside the neutral service car out of which a mechanic jumped out to assist and get him back on the road. With each setback, though, Ganna is burning more and more matches.
Section 23: Verchain-Maugré to Quérénaing – 124.4km to go
The leading group on the road has swollen to around 50 riders after Matej Mohoric’s group bridged over a few minutes ago. Further back and Silvan Dillier has taken over on the front riding ahead of three or four Alpecin-Fenix team-mates.
122.5km to go
Michal Kwiatkowski has crashed, moments later Mads Pedersen is spotted off the back of his group. As mentioned earlier, Trek-Segafredo are not having a great day so far. But will Pedersen or team-mate Jasper Stuyven get the opportunity to make amends?
Section 24: Saulzoir to Verchain-Maugré
Jens Reynders (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) clips off the front as the Belgian stomps his way over the short two-star section of cobbles. Reynder’s pedalling style is not pretty, but at the moment is is effective and he’s gained a handful of seconds on the leading group ahead of the bigger, and tougher, sections of cobbles.
128km to go
Florian Sénéchal, winner of Le Samyn back in 2019, gestures to his co-riders in the leading group. The Frenchman does not appear too impressed by the lack of collaboration and it looks like they may be caught pretty soon by Matej Mohoric et al.
Section 25: Haussy
Niki Terpstra has been consumed by the leading group on the road which contains around 17 riders. A sizeable group containing Matej Mohoric is around 15sec down the road, while the third group on the road with Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel is 1min 35sec off the pace of the race leaders.
Section 26: Vertain à Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon
Ineos Grenadiers has Filippo Ganna, Ben Turner and Dylan van Baarle in the second group, while there are four riders from Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl (Davide Ballerini, Yves Lampaert, Florian Sénéchal and Jannik Steimle), while Jumbo-Visma have two in Timo Roosen and Mike Teunissen. Former winner Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) is also in there along with Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), who last month won Milan-Sanremo and is a bit of a dark horse for the win today.
142.5km to go
Niki Terpstra (TotalEnergies), who won in 2014 with a solo attack, leads by 25sec, while the third group on the road is another minute down the road. Not 100 per cent sure who is in the second group so bear with me, and I think the third group on the road is that of Wout van Aert etc.
145km to go
Massive pile-up in the leading group, resulting in former winner Niki Terpstra clipping off the front. The Dutchman, as it stands, is the lone leader while further back riders unpick themselves and their bikes from the tangled mess of bodies and expensive carbon. That could be Ineos Grenadiers’ day done, though difficult to work out exactly what is happening and where the riders are right now.
147km to go
Wout van Aert is spotted up near the front of the chasing group.
149km to go
Filippo Ganna has reacquainted himself with the leading group who’s advantage over the chasers has dropped down to 40sec, perhaps a result of Ineos Grenadiers easing up slightly.
Sector 28: Quiévy to Saint-Python
Luke ‘Durbo’ Durbridge (BikeExchange-Jayco) rolls off the front of the leading group, while Filippo Ganna chases back on after taking either a bike change or new wheel on the four-star section of cobbles to to Saint-Python. Ganna is having to put in a huge effort to get back on.
Filippo Ganna has punctured. The time trial specialist is one of the favourites today, particularly given the fact he had, or had, six Ineos Grenadiers team-mates nearby, so this is not good news for the Italian.
Sector 29: Viesly to Quiévy
Seven Ineos Grenadiers riders are being towed along by the diesel that is Cameron Wurf. Dust clouds kick up as they power over the 1.8km stretch of cobbles. Further back and another pair of Trek-Segafredo riders have crashed. A day after winning the women’s race, the men’s team are having a nightmare.
155km to go
The leading group is flying along a lovely looking smooth section of road at 58kmh, their lead over the chasing group is holding steadily at 1min 20sec. With each section of cobbles, closing that gap will become harder and harder. What an intriguing race this is turning into.
A handful of riders in the second group have gone down on a left-hand turn on the approach to the Troisvilles section of cobbles. Former world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) and, possibly, Kasper Asgreen, have hit the deck.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) April 17, 2022
A few minutes later Silvan Dillier (Alpecin-Fenix), runner-up to Peter Sagan in 2018, also went down. Some very nervous riders out on the road today.
Onto sector 30: Troisvilles to Inchy
Geoffrey Soupe of TotalEnergies sits dead centre of the leading group going into the first sector of the day. Let’s go, welcome to hell.
163.5km to go
Trek-Segafredo, Alpecin-Fenix and Groupama-FDJ appear to be sharing the workload on the front of the chasing group as the race nears the first cobbled section of the day, both in an effort to keep their leaders out of harm’s way while also attempting to chip away at the 1min 20sec advantage held by the Ineos Grenadiers group.
And here’s a reminder of where those crucial cobbled sections are:
168.5km to go
Just hearing that TotalEnergies have six – yes, six – riders in the front group. There may be no Peter Sagan today, but in Edvald Boasson Hagen, Maciej Bodnar, Daniel Oss, Geoffrey Soupe, Anthony Turgis and Dries Van Gestel, the French squad has some serious firepower at the head of the race which features 73 riders.
172.5km to go
Arriving under pressure having failed to win a single race in the spring classics, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl have managed to get five of their riders – Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert, Florian Sénéchal and Jannik Steimle – into the front group which leads the chasers by 1min 15sec. Their main man Kasper Asgreen is in the second group, but with Lampaert and Sénéchal at the front, this could be good news for the Belgian super-team who, let’s face it, have not been too super this season.
As it stands . . .
Following a flurry of attacks from the flag the first breakaway of the day comprising Owain Doull (EF Education-EasyPost), Laurent Pichon (Arkéa-Samsic) and Alexandr Riabushenko (Astana Qazaqstan) took some time to form. The trio gained around 30sec on the bunch, before an opportunistic move from Ineos Grenadiers 210km out from the finishing line resulted in a big split in the bunch. Doull, Pichon and Riabushenko were soon caught.
Having arrived at Paris-Roubaix as the in-form team off the back of wins at Amstel Gold Race (Michal Kwiatkowski) and De Brabantse Pijl (Magnus Sheffield), many observers have commented that this seven-man team may be the strongest classics line-up assembled by Ineos Grenadiers. Either way, the British squad managed to get its entire team of riders into the front group, while the vast majority of the pre-race favourites – Kasper Asgreen (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) – were caught out.
Incidentally, it is a lovely day out in northern France with clear blue skies overhead. However, the wind is blowing which may mean this is a fast race and crosswinds are making it difficult for the chasing group to close the gap on Ineos Grenadiers et al. It has been a very exciting start, and the riders have not even reached the first cobbled section yet! Could today be the day when Ineos Grenadiers finally win a cobbled monument?
Hello, and welcome to our live rolling blog from the 119th edition of Paris-Roubaix, one of the toughest, most brutal and unforgiving one-day race on the calendar.
When Telegraph Sport caught up with Fabian Cancellara in the countdown to today’s monument, the retired Swiss cobbled classics specialist described Paris-Roubaix a ‘unique’ event, while adding that despite winning three editions of the race during his career, he initially ‘hated’ the cobbles of northern France.
“It’s unique, it’s different – you will not find any other bike race like it in the world,” Cancellara said. “Paris-Roubaix is the most watched one-day race in the world. It probably gets more attention than even the world championships.” And he’s not wrong. The eyes of the cycling – and sporting – world today will be focused on the peloton as it weaves its way north from Compiègne, the town the race has departed from since 1968, towards the down-at-heel post-industrial town of Roubaix. But it is not the towns that make this race, it is the unique nature of the course that features 54.8 kilometres of bone-rattling pavé, or cobblestones, that pepper the 257.2km route.
“At first I hated racing on the cobbles – I was not mentally prepared for my first Paris-Roubaix in 2003 and I failed,” added Cancellara. “I had no experience and thought it would be easy, but I was very wrong and was unable to finish the race. I returned the next year and finished fourth.”
Whether or not Paris-Roubaix is the toughest one-day race in cycling is debatable, but is is certainly one of the most evocative in the men’s – and now women’s – calendar. Nicknamed ‘The Hell of the North’, the race can be decided as much by luck and bravery as tactical acumen, though according to Cancellara mental resilience is key to winning. “Of course you need other skills, physical strength, good bike handling and so on, but being mentally strong is very important,” he says.
“If you are not good enough, then riding the Roubaix cobbles can be painful, but the better you are the more you will enjoy riding over the cobbles. If you have energy you can push; if you have the right equipment, the right tyre size, the right positioning the right day, the form, the mental strength then you are able to – I’m not going to say easy – compete on the cobbles in a different way.”
“Of course you also have to ride at the proper speed – not too fast, not too slow – have the right cadence. You need to perfect the right balance. There are many, many small things that all need to be right on the day to succeed on the Roubaix cobbles.”
Today’s race is scheduled to get under way at 10.15am (BST) and will finish between 4.05pm and 4.40pm. The leading rider, or riders, should arrive at the first section of cobbles – the 2.2km-long three-star section from Troisvilles to Inchy – at around 12.30pm. Our live coverage will start at 11.40am to ensure all of the thrills and spills are covered.
For those who like these things, here’s a map of the route . . .
. . . and a look at where the cobbles are, how long each section is and their respective difficulty rating (one star the easiest, five the cruellest).
Longo Borghini goes big to land women’s race
Elisa Longo Borghini won the second edition of the women’s Paris-Roubaix on Saturday following a solo raid of more than 30 kilometres.
Longo Borghini attacked in a cobbled sector after catching a breakaway group of three and never looked back as her Trek-Segafredo team-mate Elisa Balsamo was disqualified for taking an illegal tow from her team car while chasing back after a puncture.
Looking barely troubled by the cobblestones, Longo Borghini, twice a bronze medallist at the Olympics and also in the world championships road race, had victory virtually in the bag after the Carrefour de l’Arbre – the last demanding cobbled section.
The 30-year-old crossed the line on the Vélodrome André-Pétrieux 23 seconds ahead of Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), who had blown the race open with a brutal acceleration with 52km to go.
Kopecky, winner of the Tour of Flanders two weeks ago, headed a six-woman sprint behind Longo Borghini to finish second ahead of the Italian’s team-mate Lucinda Brand.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Longo Borghini. “I had been feeling unwell for a month and could not perform the way I wanted. But the team trusted me and told me I could do it.”
Marianne Vos, cycling’s most decorated woman, did not start the 124.7km classic after testing positive for Covid. Last year’s winner Lizzie Deignan, also a Trek-Segafredo rider, was not competing as she is expecting her second child. Reuters
What does the startlist look like?
As with all WorldTour races, each of the 18 teams that make up the top-flight of cycling receive an invite and in the case of Paris-Roubaix all of them are contracted to race in northern France. In addition to the WorldTeams, Pro-Continental teams Alpecin-Fenix and Arkéa-Samsic also qualified to race courtesy of last year’s rankings, while race organisers ASO handed wildcard spots to B&B Hotels p/b KTM, Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces WB, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, TotalEnergies and Uno-X.
In total 25 teams of seven will compete in a field of a maximum of 175 riders, however due to illnesses a few squads are starting with smaller teams and so just 170 will line-up outside Château de Compiègne to start today’s race later on this morning.
Stan Dewulf (Bel), Oliver Naesen (Bel), Antoine Raugel (Fra, neo-pro), Michael Schär (Swi), Damien Touzé (Fra), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel).
Astana Qazaqstan (Kaz)
Leonardo Basso (Ita), Manuele Boaro (Ita), Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz, neo-pro), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz), Davide Martinelli (Ita), Antonio Nibali (Ita), Alexandr Riabushenko (Blr).
Bahrain Victorious (Brn)
Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn), Feng Chun-kai (Twn), Matej Mohoric (Slo), Johan Price-Pejtersen (Den, neo-pro), Jasha Sütterlin (Ger), Dylan Teuns (Bel), Fred Wright (GB).
Alexandre Balmer (Swi, neo-pro), Jack Bauer (NZ), Luke Durbridge (Aus), Jan Maas (Ned), Luka Mezgec (Slo).
Marco Haller (Aut), Jonas Koch (Ger), Martin Laas (Est), Jordi Meeus (Bel, neo-pro), Nils Politt (Ger), Ide Schelling (Ned).
Piet Allegaert (Bel), Davide Cimolai (Ita), Alexandre Delettre (Fra, neo-pro), Eddy Finé (Fra), Alexis Renard (Fra), Szymon Sajnok (Pol), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel).
Nikias Arndt (Ger), John Degenkolb (Ger), Nico Denz (Ger), Marius Mayrhofer (Ger, neo-pro), Tim Naberman (Ned, neo-pro), Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned), Casper Pedersen (Den).
EF Education-EasyPost (US)
Stefan Bissegger (Swi, neo-pro), Owain Doull (GB), Jens Keukeleire (Bel), Sebastian Langeveld (Ned), Jonas Rutsch (Ger), Tom Scully (NZ), Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol).
Lewis Askey (GB, neo-pro), Clément Davy (Fra, neo-pro), Stefan Küng (Swi), Olivier Le Gac (Fra), Fabian Lienhard (Swi), Valentin Madouas (Fra), Bram Welten (Ned).
Ineos Grenadiers (GB)
Filippo Ganna (Ita), Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol), Luke Rowe (GB), Magnus Sheffield (US, neo-pro), Ben Turner (GB, neo-pro), Dylan van Baarle (Ned), Cameron Wurf (Aus).
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux (Bel)
Tom Devriendt (Bel), Alexander Kristoff (Nor), Andrea Pasqualon (Ita), Adrien Petit (Fra), Baptiste Planckaert (Bel), Taco van der Hoorn (Ned), Kevin Van Melsen (Bel).
Israel-Premier Tech (Isr)
Rudy Barbier (Fra), Jenthe Biermans (Bel), Guillaume Boivin (Can), Reto Hollenstein (Swi), Taj Jones (Aus, neo-pro), Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Den).
Edoardo Affini (Ita), Christophe Laporte (Fra), Timo Roosen (Ned), Mike Teunissen (Ned), Wout van Aert (Bel), Mick van Dijke (Ned, neo-pro), Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel).
Cedric Beullens (Bel), Victor Campenaerts (Bel), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Sébastien Grignard (Bel, neo-pro), Roger Kluge (Ger), Brent Van Moer (Bel), Florian Vermeersch (Bel).
Iñigo Elosegui (Spa), Imanol Erviti (Spa), Iván García Cortina (Spa), Johan Jacobs (Swi), Oier Lazkano (Spa), Mathias Norsgaard (Den), Albert Torres (Spa).
Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl (Bel)
Kasper Asgreen (Den), Davide Ballerini (Ita), Tim Declercq (Bel), Yves Lampaert (Bel), Florian Sénéchal (Fra), Jannik Steimle (Ger, neo-pro), Zdenek Stybar (Cze).
Daan Hoole (Ned, neo-pro), Alex Kirsch (Lux), Mads Pedersen (Den), Toms Skujins (Lat), Jasper Stuyven (Bel), Edward Theuns (Bel), Otto Vergaerde (Bel).
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
Pascal Ackermann (Ger), Alexys Brunel (Fra), Felix Gross (Ger, neo-pro), Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor), Juan Sebastián Molano (Col), Matteo Trentin (Ita), Oliviero Troia (Ita).
Silvan Dillier (Swi), Senne Leysen (Bel), Tim Merlier (Bel), Mathieu van der Poel (Ned), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel), Gianni Vermeersch (Bel), Julien Vermote (Bel).
Amaury Capiot (Bel), Benjamin Declercq (Bel), Matis Louvel (Fra), Christophe Noppe (Bel), Laurent Pichon (Fra), Clément Russo (Fra), Connor Swift (GB).
B&B Hotels-KTM (Fra)
Pierre Barbier (Fra), Alexis Gougeard (Fra), Quentin Jauregui (Fra), Jérémy Lecroq (Fra), Cyril Lemoine (Fra), Julien Morice (Fra), Luca Mozzato (Fra).
Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces WB (Bel)
Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol), Timothy Dupont (Bel), Karl Patrick Lauk (Est), Arjen Livyns (Bel), Milan Menten (Bel), Ludovic Robeet (Bel), Bas Tietema (Ned).
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise (Bel)
Vito Braet (Bel), Sander De Pestel (Bel), Arne Marit (Bel), Jens Reynders (Bel), Aaron Van Poucke (Bel), Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel), Ward Vanhoof (Bel).
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Daniel Oss (Ita), Geoffrey Soupe (Fra), Niki Terpstra (Ned), Anthony Turgis (Fra), Dries Van Gestel (Bel).
Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor), Lasse Norman Hansen (Den), William Blume Levy (Den), Erik Resell (Nor), Anders Skaarseth (Nor), Rasmus Tiller (Nor), Soren Waeenskjold (Nor).