Who would have thought that the team of the spring classics would be Ineos Grenadiers? But they’ve been burning up the parcours over the past few weeks and they bagged the biggest Classic of them all, Paris-Roubaix. In a race that didn’t follow any of the usual playbooks, Dylan van Baarle kept the faith and arrived at the velodrome alone to take a solo win, posting up the race’s fastest time ever. Second place went to Wout van Aert and third to Stefan Kung. I’ve tried to piece it together for you although I found it impossible to describe just how chaotic the whole day was.
First the highlights
Let’s bust this race apart
Over the past 10 years, Sky/Ineos have always said they took the Classics seriously, but to be honest, it never looked like they did until this season. A win here or there perhaps – almost a fluke considering that, certainly in Sky’s heydey, it was all about the Tour. But this year has seen quite a change in the team and they were coming into the Hell of the North hot from victories in Amstel Gold with Michal Kwiatkowski and Brabantse Pijl with Magnus Sheffield and a second place in Tour of Flanders with Dylan van Baarle.
And they torched the race early on – well before any cobbled sectors – with Kwiatkowski (surely one of the sport’s great road captains) feeling the crosswinds and sensing an opportunity. The whole of the team went to the front and forced a split in the peloton, racking up the seconds very quickly on the race favourites, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, amongst others, who were caught off guard and quickly found themselves on the wrong end of nearly a minute and a half deficit.
Kwiat knew exactly what he was gonna do LMFAOOO pic.twitter.com/S9i9S63jxw
— Nairo Quintana Fanclub (@NairoInGreen) April 17, 2022
In case you haven’t been watching Paris Roubaix hommes. Race summary so far. pic.twitter.com/5b7hvchcPx
— Orla Chennaoui (@SportsOrla) April 17, 2022
That was 35km into the 258km race and from then on, all bets were off. All the traditional wisdom of the race, such as ‘the race really begins at Arenberg’, were well and truly forgotten. Not only did Ineos force echelons to form, but the break with Milan-SanRemo demon descender Matej Mohoric went clear well before that first 5-star sector and were out front for much of the day. With 113km to go, Mohoric made a break for it and by the time they got out of Arenberg, he had Laurent Pichon (Arkea) and Tom Devriendt of the mighty Intermarche-Wanty along for company, and nearly 2min on the main chasing group.
Matej Mohoric is like the least catchable rider of all time, why would you ever give him 2'25"#ParisRoubaix
— Nairo Quintana Fanclub (@NairoInGreen) April 17, 2022
Mohoric really isn’t the kind of rider you want to let go into a break, particularly with the form he’s shown this spring, and for awhile it looked like Ineos had shot themselves in the foot by doing a lot of work early on, leaving riders like Mohoric in the group getting a free ride and then those fresher riders having a go. Mohoric’s break stuck for much of the afternoon and there was a point where a fair number in the Twitterverse threw in the towel and decided that the Bahrain rider would be holding the cobble aloft by the end of the race.
Ah, but Roubaix
The racing was not over though. It was still as chaotic as ever with van Aert and van der Poel picking up their pace and a strong group which included van Baarle, Yves Lampaert, Jasper Stuyven, Stefan Kung, Matteo Trentin and Taco van der Hoorn went on the rampage, chasing the break. From here, van Baarle kept yo-yoing off the front, getting caught, biding his time, having another go, finally riding away on the final five-star sector, Carrefour de l’Arbres, showing that Flanders was no fluke and they never saw him again.
Incredible if INEOS takes the win after having created the split 200 kilometres ago!
— Rasmus Nowak Franklin (@NowakFranklin_) April 17, 2022
Behind the Ineos rider, van der Poel got dropped by van Aert, who had Kung, Devriendt, and Mohoric with him. Once they were in the Velodrome, it was all quite tracky until Kung made the jump, which brought WvA to life who scorched past him taking second, with Kung just getting past Devriendt for the third step of the podium.
— Peter. ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿🚴♂️ (@PBXscribes) April 17, 2022
— Science in Sport (@ScienceinSport) April 17, 2022
Punctures and crashes
Because, punctures. All day long, riders were getting new wheels, new bikes, neutral service bikes, teammates’ bikes, because of flats. Filippo Ganna was in the front group with his teammates yet seemed to puncture every few kilometres and have to go like the clappers over the cobbles to hitch back onto the group. The displays of power make us wonder how long it’ll take him to truly be one of the favourites for this race.
🇮🇹 @GannaFilippo is giving his all to stick with the main group, he’s managing it!
— Paris-Roubaix (@Paris_Roubaix) April 17, 2022
Two very important punctures happened with under 40km to go. First, van Aert was the first and he had to make a swift bike change, riding hard to catch back onto the lead chasing group of riders. Just after that, Mohoric (who the group was chasing) punctured and by the time he had a new bike, he had to ride to catch up with the WvA group. Before he punctured, it looked like Mohoric was going to go the whole way, but … it’s Roubaix. You need luck as well as speed and power.
Van Aert puncture! Mohoric puncture! Ohmygooood the chaos 😮💥 #ParisRoubaix
— Katy M (@writebikerepeat) April 17, 2022
Have two punctures had significant impact on outcome of #ParisRoubaix? Looking that way at the moment.
— Paul Treloar (@PaulieTandoori) April 17, 2022
Yves Lampaert‘s ride was scuppered when a spectator leaning out to clap snagged his handbars, which set him off into flips across the cobbles to land hard on his back (but jumped right back up) and put paid to any hopes he had of a podium finish. He had to take a neutral service bike (which looked like it was made for a 12-year-old) but he did finish 10th in the end.
— Alex Rasmussen (@alexfalkeman) April 17, 2022
Look out for Tuesday’s Tweets of the Week – that’s where the chaos will come to life!
1 Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) 5:37:00
2 Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +1.47
3 Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) same time
4 Tom Devriendt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) s/t
5 Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) s/t
6 Adrien Petit (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +2.27
7 Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo) same time
8 Laurent Pichon (Arkea-Samsic) s/t
9 Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin Fenix) +2.34
10 Yves Lampaert (QuickStep Alpha Vinyl) +2.59
For full stage review, go to cyclingnews.