Less than half a year after the legendary and epic wet edition, it is already time for a new edition of the Hell of the North on Sunday, April 17, 2022. The most heroic and evocative cycling race there is. Boxing over nearly fifty kilometers of cobblestone lanes, the deserted farm roads in the North of France. Dust bites, punctures and suffering. Paris-Roubaix 2022 will also be a classic to lick your fingers and thumbs. Cycling-Classics.com is presenting the preview Paris-Roubaix 2022! Read more about the 119th edition of Paris Roubaix. Want to read it in Dutch? Go then to the voorbeschouwing Parijs-Roubaix 2022 on Voorjaarsklassiekers.be!
Preview Paris-Roubaix 2022
Say you say Milan San Remo, then you say the Cipressa and Poggio. The Tour of Flanders has the Muur, but also the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. But in Paris-Roubaix, sharpshooters come in handy, where the cobblestones are skewed every year. The Forest of Wallers. Mons-en-Pévèle. And the Carrefour de l’Arbre. Just saying these names makes us lick our lips.
For many, the most beautiful because of its heroism, the many cobbled lanes, the centuries-old farmland roads through the northern French countryside and the arrival on the track in Roubaix. For others, a horror. A course that is denounced, by the pain along the way. And by the bad luck that always lurks.
“I will never deny what I have said before about Paris-Roubaix. It remains a rotten race”. – Bernard Hinault after his win in Paris-Roubaix in 1981.
When is “the Hell of the North” 2022?
After two years of being absent in the spring, Paris-Roubaix 2022 will again be raced in the spring. However, for the third year in a row not on the Sunday after the Tour of Flanders – in 2020 the race was cancelled due to corona, in 2021 moved to October and this year due to the French elections the race had to move again to a new date, but due to a switch with the Amstel Gold Race, the cobbled race will now be held not one but two weeks after the Tour of Flanders.
History of Paris-Roubaix
No race has as much history as Paris Roubaix. Of course, of the row of spring classics that are on the program between The Opening Weekend in late February and the closing classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the latter is the oldest. No course older than La Doyenne. But the history of Paris-Roubaix goes back to 1896.
Belgians Roger de Vlaeminck (1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977) and Tom Boonen (2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012) are record holders in Paris-Roubaix with four wins each.
Behind these greats are seven riders who have won the Hellenklassieker three times. Among them Rik van Looy (1961, ’62 and ’65), Eddy Merckx (1968, ’70 and ’73), Francesco Moser (1978-’80), Johan Museeuw (1996, ’00 and ’02) and Fabian Cancellara (2006, ’10 and ’13).
Museeuw’s first victory, in 1996, was a legendary one. Patrick Lefevre’s outstanding Mapei team went 1-2-3 that day, taking the entire podium. Alongside leader Johan Museeuw were Gianluca Bartolami and Andrea Tafi. In addition, the late Franco Ballerini finished fifth. An exceptional performance in the history of Paris-Roubaix.
Cancellara’s 2010 victory is one he can frame. Besides the fact that Spartacus arrived solo at the Velodrome in Roubaix, he also managed to take the Double Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix with this victory. Something he would repeat in 2013….
As in the Tour of Flanders, Belgium tops the list of victories by country in Paris Roubaix. No less than 57 times a Belgian was able to celebrate victory in La Reine des Classiques. In second place is, not surprisingly, host country France – with 28 victories. Italy, thanks in part to greats Francesco Moser and Franco Ballerini, is third with 14 victories. The Netherlands comes in at spot four, with 6 wins.
Dutch cycling fans saw Peter Post (1964), Jan Janssen (1967), Jan Raas (1982) and Hennie Kuiper (1983) win in the favourites’ role and in 2001 a very special rider walked away with the victory.
In extremely hard and wet conditions it was Servais Knaven who surprised friend and foe. The Domo Farm Frites servant was in the early breakaway and was very grateful to his team leader Johan Museeuw for his fine stopping skills. Thirteen years later, in 2014, it was Niki Terpstra who could strike solo in the shadow of leader Tom Boonen and thus brought the Dutch victories to six.
Paris Roubaix the waste race where being in the early breakaway is essential
Unlike those other monuments, Milan San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Liege Bastogne Liege and the Tour of Lombardy, Paris Roubaix is a real waste race.
Whereas in those other big races often one or more judges decide the outcome, De Hel van het Noorden is a race where the strongest – or in many cases the luckiest – rider will prevail. Being along in the early breakaway is often an essential ingredient, especially if you want to win from the second line as a shadow leader or as an outsider.
Go to. If you are in the early breakaway and are spared any bad luck, you can make it to the finale. Or you could even join the illustrious list of Paris Roubaix laureates. Because think about it, would you give Magnus Backstedt (2004), Stuart O’Grady (2007), Johan Vansummeren (2011) or Mathew Hayman (2016) a chance?
And could they have done well at all without being in the early breakaway? No, they couldn’t. Let’s face it. Paris Roubaix is the course where being in the early breakaway is the key to a surprise. Which smart riders will be in Paris Roubaix 2022 and can make a bid for eternal glory?
The autumn edition of Paris Roubaix last year was finger-licking good. The images went around the world. It was historic! It was grueling, dirty, muddy, blubberish and slippery. Emaciated riders who crossed the finish line dressed as miners. It was cyclocross deluxe in the Forest of Wallers. With bike and all into the ditch. Hardship. Cold and wet. But also the acrobatic Mathieu van der Poel. And the tears of Sonny Colbrelli. The Italian, who previously won the European Championships, had a dream post-season. Enjoy the following photo reportage, because what is part of the fun of previewing an upcoming race is reminiscing and looking back on that previous one….
Parcours Paris-Roubaix 2022
When the docile gentlemen, and women too thankfully since the first Paris Roubaix Femmes in 2021, are the protagonists. True heroes. Protagonists who take on the hurdles of the cobbled streets while clattering and bouncing. But if these riders are the main protagonists, then we can justifiably say that the volunteers of “Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix” are their support and anchor. The stage builders. Every year they are the ones who, with combined efforts, tackle the worst spots of the Paris-Roubaix course. This group of volunteers are the protectors of what they themselves call “le pave du Nord. And they have quite a bit to protect…
The Paris Roubaix 2022 course is also once again full of cobblestone lanes. In fact, of the 257.5 kilometers, 55 kilometers are on cobblestone roads – spread over 30 cobblestone lanes. Unlike the name of this French cycling monument suggests, L’Enfer du Nord has not started in the capital for years. At first the race was moved to Chantilly, but since 1977 Compiègne is the starting point of the race. Eighty kilometers northeast of Paris the start signal will be given for the 119th edition of Paris-Roubaix!
Also in Paris Roubaix 2022 the first, say, 100 kilometers will mainly be about getting away from the peloton. In those first hours in De Hel it’s always full speed ahead, because everyone wants to be in the early breakaway, since that will be very decisive.
Contenders Paris-Roubaix 2022
A few days before Paris Roubaix 2022, we present you here a list of contenders for Paris Roubaix 2022! Who will become the Vainqueur de Paris Roubaix vingt-deux?