Paris-Roubaix Preview

It’s back and it’s bone dry. The cobbles of Paris-Roubaix this weekend will be dusty and the roadside verge baked hard, making it the first ever dry edition for the women… and for the men a return to almost normal with sunny conditions again, seemingly like every time each spring.

The Route: 257km from Compiègne to Roubaix. Social science academics joke about graduates sitting exams where the questions are the same every year, the difference is that it’s the answers that change every year and Paris-Roubaix evokes this, the route is almost set in stone and instead it’s the approach that changes given the weather conditions and the state of the pavé.

To get to the cobbles there’s almost 100km on regular roads, including a few gentle climbs. It’s always worth remembering that in this 257km race, 92% ranges between tarmac and 3-star cobble sections, only 8% is the dream-destroying four or five star sections.

Sectors are rated by difficulty and length is a key determinant for the organisers, so a short sector with stones jagged enough to puncture tires and hopes alike may not merit a fearsome rating, think the second section near Templeuve, it’s a brute but short so only two stars.

The Arenberg Forest is one of those self-fulfilling strategic areas as riders rush to be at the front in case of a crash… which heightens the crash risk. Riders will know from here on if they’re on a good day or not. Now the sectors come thick and fast as the route twists and turns across Le Nord. With 20km to go the crucial sectors of Camphin and then the Carrefour de l’Arbre arrive.

The Finish: Held in the old velodrome, riders enter the 500m concrete track for one and half laps. The banking can be exploited by a rider lucid enough to remember how to sprint on a track, harder than it sounds after 250km.

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The Contenders: Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) is a safe pick but comes with questions. He didn’t look full of fizz in the Amstel last weekend although he still salvaged third place and this is why he’s an easy pick, he can win the sprint from a group. He’s also on harder terrain this weekend, the dry weather means his cyclo-cross agility counts for less, he can’t turn on the power and force others to slip and slide. Plus his team won’t have strength in numbers later on, they’re strong but it’s down to ten riders, unlikely to have three in the mix. So if another team fires riders up the road, he’ll have to share in any chase.

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Which brings us to Ineos which bring a fleet of diesels. Dylan van Baarle, Magnus Sheffield and Ben Turner are outsiders, the latter two in their debut Roubaix but both have a cross-background and the team is bound to function best if they have riders who can take turns to attack. Michał Kwiatkowski is back to ride Roubaix after trying it for the first time last autumn but can count on plenty of experience. Magnus Sheffield’s impressed this spring, he’s taken two wins as a teenager and each time with power in the tank when others have faded away. Filippo Ganna is the big interest because he’s looked like a candidate since his Lampre team days, now add on his TT skills. Then remember he had a good debut showing in 2016, normal given his U23 win here too. The weather’s on his side, the dry conditions help and if anyone gives him a ten second gap, they might as well give him a stand or cabinet to place the cobbled trophy in. But it’s all or nothing, to get to the front and then to leave the rest for dust.

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Are Jumbo-Visma more a strength in numbers story now? The paradox is collective force ought to appeal, but here it’s because Wout van Aert might not be their clear leader and therefore Mike Teunissen, Christophe Laporte and Nathan van Hooydonck aren’t all riding in service of their Belgian champ. Van Aert’s been ill and missed Flanders and while there’s an air of “they would say that, wouldn’t they” in downplaying his chances but he will miss time off and lack of racing. Laporte is a good double, you might remember the sight of him having to brake with his shoe on the back wheel last year; he actually finished sixth as well.

Now for all the others. You’d imagine every other preview cites van der Poel, Ineos and Jumbo-Visma first, and then it’s a matter of examining the rest…

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It’s almost now or never for Mads Pedersen. He’s had a strong start to the year but has got more results in stage races than classics so far this spring – he’d have won the Circuit de la Sarthe overall were it not for being felled in crash on the last day – and that’s because of his long sprint and that’s exactly what’s needed to win here. He might prefer it a bit colder but otherwise has all the attributes to win, including a good Trek-Segafredo support team with Jasper Stuyven and Daan Hoole too.

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Stefan Küng is having a strong classics campaign with repeat top-10s. He’s been floating up the hills but his thing is raw power and he’ll like the dry conditions here although some of his best wins have been in the rain. His problem is one of alchemy, we know he can place but how to turn bronze into gold as his sprint isn’t so searing? Groupama-FDJ team mate Valentin Madouas is one to watch because it’s his debut on the pavé. He won’t want for advice given the team management’s affection for this race (past winners Madiot and Guesdon, plus the soon to retire Gayant is almost a local and finished fourth).

Quick-Step are arguably Belgium’s fourth strongest classics squad in terms of results behind Intermarché, Alpecin and Lotto this year. It’s possible too, as Roubaix often smiles on some longer shots. Kasper Asgreen is their obvious leader, Florian Sénéchal is the local who dreams of this race, Zdeněk Štybar is past his prime but Roubaix can suit older riders and Yves Lampaert can have his moment but because he’s not a fast finisher it’s hard to imagine him going clear by himself to take the win. A lot of their results are contingent on the “wolfpack” racing of having several riders in the kopgroep and that’s been the problem this year.

Alexander Kristoff and Roubaix have never hit it off. The Norwegian excels in tough races so he ought to have done better but his forceful style seems to have been his undoing at times, he’s tried to smash the cobbles only they smashed his wheels back. The move to Intermarché’s paid off and his Scheldeprijs win showed he can go solo rather than lurk for the sprint although he’s won Flanders by going in the moves too.

TotalEnergie’s team looks good on paper that every single rider could win, or should have won this race, if the stars aligned. Anthony Turgis has had rotten luck with crashes but is still a strong rider, Dries Van Gestel is one of the younger revelations and Edvald Boasson Hagen comes off a strong Paris-Camembert.

Bahrain’s best bet could be Matej Mohorič because if he’s not thrived in this race if he can get a gap he’s hard to bring back. Fred Wright had a solid Ronde and Johan Price-Pejtersen’s got the build for a race like this.

Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) has all the qualities for a Paris-Roubaix winner too but will he win a cobble trophy in his career? Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal) was second last year, what chance now? Before you could ex post see a pattern in his results showing form and power, less so now. Victor Campenaerts might be Lotto-Soudal’s best bet but probably for a solid result rather than the win.

Alas EF Education are like Astana, they’ve been almost invisible this spring although don’t dunk on them, it’s partly down to viral bad luck. But the pink team’s ahead of the baby blue lot today thanks to veteran Sebastian Langeveld who knows this race well, Stefan Bissegger who ought to be able to do anything Ganna does, only with a faster sprint at the end and the towering Jonas Rutsch.

As Philippe Gilbert remarked this week to L’Equipe the race is flat and actually not that hard physically. Riders who would be out of the picture in almost any other spring classic can pop up here and this helps explain some long shot wins. Wilder picks are Stanisław Aniołkowski (Bingoals-Pauwels) as he’s a tough rider with a good kick, Conor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic) has won the Tro Bro Leon so a longer shot but not so wild. The iron man of Ishigaki Yukiya Arashiro (Bahrain) who is often deployed to ride on the front but could try a long move and Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel) as he’s a tenacious rider and won this as a junior too. Lastly a nod to Imano Erviti (Movistar) who starts his 16th Roubaix and the last rider who lined up for their 16th was an Aussie called Hayman.

Mathieu van der Poel
Wout van Aert, Kasper Asgreen, Filippo Ganna
Pedersen, Küng, Kristoff, Laporte, Kwiatkowski, Štybar
Swift, Politt, Turgis, van Baarle, Sénéchal, Sheffield, Lampaert

Weather: sunny, a top temperature of 20°C and a 15km/h breeze from the NE which is gentle but enough to count as a factor as the course zags and zigs. The ordinary weather matters because it makes the race less of a lottery, less rather than not of course. It’ll come to brute force and who has something left for the final 20km.

TV: live from start at 11.00am CEST to finish at 5.20pm CEST. Normally it’s on the same channel you watch the Tour de France on so France Télévisions for locals and VPN and Eurosport/GCN in most other countries.

Paris-Roubaix Femmes: it’s this Saturday and the first ever dry edition of course. This blog’s picks are Lotte Kopecky (SD-Worx), Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) and Grace Brown (FDJ-Futuroscope) but you’ll find a better informed and proper preview over at It’s on from 12.25pm-4.00pm CEST.

85 thoughts on “Paris-Roubaix Preview”

  1. Standard time, daylight time, east coast time, west coast time…I’m losing track…hoping the Rapha clubhouse opens early enough here in San Francisco (my temporary site while working on the rental place).
    I saved the podium photo of Vermeersch looking at Colbrelli hoisting the cobblestone…there’s a lot going on in that young man’s gaze. Hoping for him, expecting Van der Poel (and also eager to see Ganna make it into town in the lead group, just to see how he’d cope.)

  2. Thanks for a great preview though with so many contenders out for various reasons I’m hoping the race turns out more interesting than I’m thinking it will on this Saturday morning. Maybe “Top Ganna” will manage a Moser 1979 or does MVdP have the form to do the same? OTOH I hope the women will make more a race of it than they did last year with that way-too-late chase of the eventual winner. Best wishes to Sonny Colbrelli, if his racing career’s over at least he’s got some good results to look back on.

    • Glad you mentioned women – I love these wkend when the women and mens races at a day apart or at the same time. Also womens are often better than mens I find, last years PR an exception.

      I understand the arguments against but I wish the womens tour was at the same time as the mens similar to Wimbledon. I think the same about womens football World Cup.

      • (also I love INRNG and realise this is a one person show run for free for all our benefit and I’m extremely grateful for this (!!!) but I do wish their were women’s previews/analysis as well – there must be a female journalist willing to become Ms INRNG and take up the baton!)

        • I’ll gladly share to others doing previews of the women’s race. I wish I could do women’s previews but it’d show in places, I might be able to know the roads, terrain etc but I just don’t know as much about the riders. I will still lap up women’s Paris-Roubaix this afternoon largely for entertainment but some education along the way too.

          • “Bike Racing 101” on display today by the women of Trek. The chase had Longo-Borghini down to just 10 seconds at one point so yours truly said “Nice try” and almost got up off the couch to deal with the post-lunch dishes. But her teammates worked well to thwart the move of SDWorx who had just 2 vs Trek’s 3, so my fat ass stayed on the couch until the anthem was played 🙂
            Meanwhile, we saw the finale of the Giro di Sicilia live, in-person yesterday.
            W Italia!

          • The women’s race certainly provided a possible template for a strong team to ride to victory with a mid-range (circa 33 km) final winning move marked by team mates in the rapidly reducing pack following.

      • “The three-week version of the Tour de France féminin lasted only two years, due to a largely uninterested media and public.”
        I was there in 1988 and remember the thing being treated as a sideshow at best. There was something about seeing the women, even the top ones seeming to barely make it up the climbs vs hours later the men racing up so much faster that put the women’s event in a bad light.
        I wonder if watching men’s and women’s tennis or football in a similar fashion would be the same?

        • It doesn’t seem to be an issue for the tennis players – they play alongside the men at all the Grand Slams – or during the Olympics. It may well be that when men and women are at a similar level of professionalism, people can appreciate each set of athletes to a similar level. During the 80s there may have been more of a gap in professionalism than there is now, not that the current day is perfect.

          • Or maybe whacking a tennis ball with a racket is different than climbing in the Alps on a bicycle? Can’t say that I know since I don’t watch tennis at all, I just used it as an example where men and women play in a way that some comparisons could be made?

    • Exactly the same went through my head.

      Ineos are coming in with a very strong team there’s only one rider in their team who you’d be surprised to see in a leading group in last 50:

      Pidcock, Ganna, Kwiato, Van Baarle, Turner, Sheffield, Rowe, Wurf.

      Their strongest team since Geraint and Wiggins rode.
      But LJ, FDJ also have strong teams with possible winners. Glad you put WVA high up faves lost, I’m not buying the ‘support’ role at all.

      • I also think Michael Matthews is a decent no-chain ring bet… outsider for sure but I’ve long felt he doesn’t have the big win his talent deserves, maybe he’ll do a Geraint and put everything together once for a dream result?

        Although is there another rider in the peloton you see more often at the front of a second group after the race winning move has gone? It happens so often it can’t all be luck/legs he must have some tactical weaknesses, even if his fast finish stops him joining some breaks. I’d like him to get a big win, maybe if he gets ahead of the moves tomorrow it might come.

        • Mathews would be a long shot.
          But really he needs a stronger team because he doesn’t have the endurance to keep himself at the front or following every move.

          • I wondered about Jack Bauer as well as he’s a tough rider but he’s not shown much form so far. Durbridge isn’t having the season he wanted either but all the more reason to try the early break perhaps.

        • I was thinking about Matthews the other day, possibly while he was refusing to take a turn in that chasing group at Amstel. He’s always at or near the front of the big one day races but I was thinking I don’t think I have ever seen him attack, be that on his own or in one of the little groups of 3 or 4 that often sneak off to win one day races. He’s the Haimar Zubeldia/Jurgen Vandenbroeck of one day racing.

        • In big one day races, Mathews is always hoping to get dragged to the finish in a group with no other sprinters and it rarely/never works for him. If he’s lucky he will win a garbage sprint for a minor placing out of one of the chase groups.

      • I’ve liked the look of the Ineos teams at all the big Spring one day’ers so far this season and today’s line-up is no exception. Though it is exceptional, if you take my meaning 😅
        If only they’d race more aggressively in these races, a la Quickstep dare I say it, even if they did a decent enough impression at Amstel.
        Otherwise everyone is surely playing into the hands of van Aert and van der Poel.

  3. Watching Turner so at ease on the short climbs in the last few races and his natural lean build, he seems almost more suited to La Flèche and LBL than Paris-Roubaix. Whatever, INEOS seem to have unearthed an unsung and – for the moment – modestly salaried pearl in him.

    Unfortunate too to see multiple teams unable to make up the seven riders for one of the years biggest races. BikeExchange down to five and probably other teams making up the seven with half-fit or unsuited riders. In many years of following the support I can’t recall a season so impacted by illness.

      • oldDave – do you hate Quinn Simmons too? How ’bout Chloe Dygart? How many people-of-color are on your favorite teams? Just wondering where you stand when you call out someone as being a racist, especially someone you don’t know and whose mother-tongue you (probably) don’t understand, all based on what I assume is English-language reporting?
        Reminds of me BigMig…we were watching an interview with him on TV with a guy from Spain. I understand pretty much no Spanish, but Mig’s responses were translated into English – but according to the Spanish guy what Mig said vs what we heard in English were two very different things. The BigMig “gentle-giant” nice-guy image was forever shattered and a big lesson was learned by yours truly – don’t believe what people write or say, just because it’s in your native language. They have agendas just like everyone else.

        • Larry, are you saying that none of the above have been overtly racist, that they’ve just been misunderstood/lost in translation?
          Re. the Indurain interview, did the translation make him sound better or worse than the original Spanish?

          • Moscon’s comments were pretty clear in any language and that was the point, plus there’s no debating anything lost in translation: he apologised and his team banned him (briefly) for it.

            But he does carry this reputation when others have said/done things that raise eyebrows, take last year’s Roubaix winner Sonny Colbrelli who’s taken to social media in the past to give us his thoughts on migrants and Mussolini but this “wisdom” didn’t break out much beyond Italian media.

            Back to the racing please.

          • D Evans – Sorry, I thought it was pretty clear that the translation of what BigMig was saying made him look like a gentle-giant/nice guy (which was the Anglo-Saxon image) while what the Spanish guy actually heard come out of his mouth made him look like a d__k-head.
            That’s why I pointed it out in regards to Moscon – articles in Italian with quotes from the man don’t paint this big racist picture so I wondered how much of it was real vs spin from Anglo-Saxon viewpoints? What might non-English speakers think about Quinn and Dygart? Maybe what whoever translates the news about them wants them to think?
            Apologies to Mr. Inrng, but you did let oldDave’s comment sit there unanswered, not adding “Back to the racing please” until my comment called it out followed by D Evans response.

          • Moscon called someone a n_____. That’s who you’re defending. And he brushed off questions about it afterwards rather than saying I was wrong. Did the others you mention do something as obviously bigoted? Would you be defending a non-Italian rider who had done this? Zero tolerance. He’s lucky to still have a career.

    • Not riding, he’s said his spring campaign has passed him by. Astana have been one of the quieter teams this season in terms of results, visibility and UCI points too although traditionally they get going for the summer stage races.

  4. WVA for me. I don’t believe this riding in support talk for one second. He’ll be nice and fresh, one week off after doing cx and a full early season won’t do him any harm. I’m saying a solo attack with about 50km to go, maybe catching and dropping a couple from the early break along the way.
    Failing that I’d like to see an ageing career domestique have their day, maybe Oss if he’s riding. If not what price Declerque to save Quick Steps spring?!

  5. Great preview as always.

    One little typo: “lucid enough to remember how to sprint on a track, easier than it sounds after 250km” – should be “harder than it sounds”.

  6. Interesting how Ineos have pulled off “Wolfpack” tactics over the past few races. That looks like a mighty strong team, a case can be made for 6 out of the 7 riders winning. For years Quickstep have used that strategy (in some ways because of the necessity of keeping down rider’s salaries) and it has paid off more often than not. It gives much more resilience than supporting one “star” rider such as MvdP.

    • The “Wolfpack” is nothing new, it is TI Raleigh for our era! (In 1982 they won Amstel, Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Brussels and Henninger Turm – five classics – with four different riders. They repeated the following year: Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, Henninger Turm, Paris -Tours and the Championship of Zurich, again five classics with four different riders).

  7. Wolfpack? The story of the race was the supermarket sweep by Intermarche WG – six riders in the top 23. They not have made it on the podium but surely the team of the day?

      • I wonder if there’s an argument to be made for the points system providing some teams with additional focus and achievable goals each race?
        I think that there is, personally, and Wanty are definitely one of those teams that look freshly energised.

        • Sure, there’s an argument to be made, but more people than just yours truly dismiss it as BS. Intermarche’s improvements are from bringing in Valerio Piva more than anything else IMHO, but he may have come along with a larger budget when Intermarche came in?

          • Piva’s an experienced DS but they’ve had several of those already. I’d also add Aike Visbeek, he was a well-regarded coach at DSM. Have said it before here that their move to the World Tour looked like gamble, I thought they’d be squashed, but then saw Visbeek was there too. Now he’s not a magician, let’s not exaggerate the role of one person, but it was a sign the team wanted to have some more training and planning. Signing has helped too, picking up Girmay and Kristoff has paid off.

  8. Good race – got a feeling it won’t be the most riveting write up as it wasn’t a classic edition but sure INRNG will find a way to spice it up!! Seems like Van Baarle was the strongest rider along with Van Aert and Mohoric and deservedly won with strong riding and good tactics, plus impressive early Ineos pressure.

    I pos would have preferred Mohoric or Van Aert winning, as I like Mohoric coming good this & last year, turning his slightly mindless attacks previously into decisive moves, and Van Aert seems to not be building up the Classics palmares he deserves as it stands so would like him to start winning these races.

    My only question was the way Van Baarle was allowed to bridge up to the Mohoric move (which was pretty impressive) as you would have thought given a move had just gone the other riders would have been more alert to further competition joining, but I guess I’m not on the road to know how people were feeling.

    Just nice Ineos’ first winner is a nice Dutch guy this year rather than a racist last year. Excited to see what Girmay does next year.

  9. Re: your last paragraph
    Oh, sod off! Concentrate on watching the race, thinking about what you’ve seen and commenting on the race. How do you know Van Baarle didn’t vote for some plain dumb anti-immigration party or that he isn’t an ardent supporter of some right wing idiot with a rabid anti-islamic platform who views Dutch nazists as heroes to be emulated?
    Or – if your memory played a trick on you – how do you know that Van Baarle doesn’t harbour genuine racist thoughts and attitudes, but is shrewd and cool enough to keep them to himseld and sto reveal them only in private company to like-minded countrymen?
    PS I hope you weren’t the anonymous moron who wrote as if he’d been there and heard what Moscon said (and as if he could know for sure what saying whatever it actually was in whichever language unequivocally told us about Mioscon).
    PPS Sheer bad luck is an integral part of Paris-Roubaix. Sometimes when a rider crashes or punctures he could or should at least partially blame himself for being poorly positioned or being where he shouldn’t have been, but yesterday there were plenty of times when it was 100% bad luck. Bu were there more punctures than usual – or did we just see more of them or did they just happen where and when they mattered?

    • “Bu were there more punctures than usual – or did we just see more of them or did they just happen where and when they mattered?”
      I wondered the same but contrary to the hype it certainly didn’t seem like LESS! So I give Paris-Roubaix Tech Hype 2022 a 0. The guy who won rode what looked like the same bike he uses in all the races with 50 mm wheels and 30 mm road tubeless tires. I think he had a flat as did teammate Ganna, which certainly changed the race when they slowed up to wait for him so none of the gimmickry seemed to help anyone do anything, except move some product?

    • Hear, hear! @oldDAVE, no one needs you (or anyone else commenting on this genuinely cycling blog) telling them who is or isn’t a racist, or whose political views you don’t like – or what they should write about, for that matter.

    • Eskerrik Asko, so you’re suggesting people shouldn’t call out racists because others might be racist too. Makes sense. Also, if Moscon hadn’t said what others claimed he said, why didn’t he deny it, as anyone would?

      • The classic answer to these kind of questions would be “I won’t dignify this crap by answering”.But quoting it would still be an answr…damned if i do, damned if I don’t.

  10. Van Aert is in slight risk of becoming a sort of modern Freddy Maertens. He seems quite regularly to absolutely dominate minor classics and stage races but barring the Sanremo he won seems to always have stuff go wrong in the big ones. He’s still got a few prime years to turn it round.
    Interesting that Backstedt said on commentary he’d never seen so many punctures during Paris-Roubaix after all the fuss about nee tyre technology.

    • One positive thing that CAN be said about the tires – fat, low pressure isn’t slower as this was the fastest average speed on record. Always nice to see something you’ve advocated prove itself…though I’m far from the only one. Silca’s Josh Poertner might be modern advocate #1 in this?

    • Yes – or the new Sagan, I always felt one Flanders and one Roubaix was a less than his talent deserved although maybe it just highlights more Boonen and Cancellara’s skill – it’s incredible currently to think there was a time when a single rider could win three Paris Roubaix’s. I’m sure it will come again, MVDP will likely take three Flanders soon, but Roubaix often feels like a you get one chance with form/luck/teammates and you have to take it.

      WantyGroubert we’re amazing yesterday. What has changed with them this year and a bit last? Budget, management? It felt like their entire team was top 30.

      FDJ also strong, actually felt sorry for them to not win anything this classics season.

    • That comment re. Freddy Maertens is unjustified – have you looked at his palmares? I just hope van Aert does nearly as well in his career.

      • +1 D Evans! Hard to imagine someone who wouldn’t trade theirs for Maertens’ palmares except maybe Merckx. Who would you suggest is the Merckx of this period to rival WVA, Richard S?

        • My point wasn’t about Eddy Merckx. It was that Van Aert is a fantastic cyclist who starts as a favourite in pretty much any bike race that doesn’t include high mountain passes. Freddy Maertens was much the same in that regard. Both win/won loads of races. Van Aert has yet to translate that win rate in other races to the monuments. Freddy Maertens never won any monuments despite being a very great cyclist. It’s an anomaly. That was my point.

          • “… won seems to always have stuff go wrong in the big ones. ” and “He’s still got a few prime years to turn it round” pretty much indicates having Maertens’ palmares isn’t very good compared to what you think WVA could/should win.
            I’m saying (and I think D Evans is as well) is that when WVA hangs up his wheels he’d be pretty happy to have equaled Maertens, whether it pleases you or not.
            I’d say the same for any current pro, especially if they could avoid Freddy’s post-racing career issues, but I have no doubt that Maertens would have liked to win more Monuments…who wouldn’t?

  11. Back to the racing.
    I have a suggestion for anyone riding tubeless in any situation where bumps and lumps could cause the tyre bead to flex and lift: Sure tubeless is good, but just to be sure it won’t burp, why not contain the pressure and sealant in a stretchy bag all the way around the inside of the rim? Just don’t call it an inner tube.
    Oh and I know you run an electronic shifting system for, er, reliability, but let’s just put a little chain-catcher next to it on the downtube.

    • Yeah, sure. They’ve now won 3 Monuments and a couple of semi-classics in a decade. Patrick Lefevere ( the most successful cycling manager in history) must really be worried. But perhaps QS will put their name on the INEOS kit next year as rumors are that SOUDAL will be the new name/sponsor of the Wolf Pack? That’s the only way Brailsford’s squad could ever become “the new Quick-Step”

      • Larry, I think you are be a bit blinded by your dislike of Sky/Ineos. No doubt Patrick Lefevere has been extremely successful. He can be a bit abrasive and rather old fashioned in his views at times but no arguing with how he has run the team on a much smaller budget than others have. However this season has been a disappointment so far. Yes they have won races but for them as the preeminent Belgium team March & April has not delivered the wins where it matters, in Belgium. Remco Evenepoel continues to be a work in progress, overshadowed by Slovenians. Julian Alaphilippe might come good next week. The sprinters have done OK (no sign Cav will be adding to his Tour wins unfortunately). The rest nowhere. There must be thoughts that perhaps things have moved on just like Froome era Sky. Perhaps Patrick Lefevere can prove the doubters wrong again, we shall see.

        As for Ineos, I agree it will take more than two weeks of success to replace QS at the top of the tree but there are signs that they have moved on from the end of the Chris Froome era. Whilst Tadej Pogacer must be favourite every time he starts, Ineos might just be favourites to pull off three in a row (in fact 4 in 5 years, the rider who won the other is now at Ineos too) at your beloved Giro. Maybe Dylan van Baarle will be off to Jumbo Visma next year but Ineos now have a very formidable one day unit, youth aligned with serious experience.

        Yes the term “wolfpack” will always be associated with QS but, as pointed out above, the tactical approach is not new. Imitation is always the most sincere form of flattery.

        • No doubt – I truly hate Brailsford and Co. And hate it when their fanboys put them up as an example of what pro cycling should be. The entire “marginal gains” crap is just F1 with pedals. I’ll leave it there rather than go into a big rant.
          As to the mass of flat tires someone was trying to explain away by sand/gravel – unless they can point to some huge change from past years before tires became tubeless and full of goop, this year’s failures might more accurately connected to all the newest/latest versions the tire sponsors forced their teams to try out? How many photos did we see of “prototype” this or that or tires without any markings on them…but lots of wink-wink techno/sales/marketing babble? Seemed everywhere you looked it was “We’ve got a new version of ……” but way too many of them failed at their primary purpose – holding air. I’d love to be a fly-on-the-wall at the next meeting between teams and tire sponsor reps – my guess is it might be like the famous screaming session once heard outside a Q/S bus from that sprinter from the Isle of Man?

          • Even if they were to use the same tyres set-ups from the halcyon days before the UCI, modernity, etc. etc. they would get more punctures as they are riding faster.

          • d. nixon- “…more punctures as they are riding faster.” is a novel theory. Since racing speeds seem to increase pretty much every year one would think the #’s of punctures would keep increasing in all the races if your theory is correct. Impossible to prove/disprove but it’s not flying with me, sorry.

          • I think speed is more applicable to puncturing when you are hitting the hard edge of a cobble, not when rolling on a smooth road. I would have thought it obvious that you are more likely to get a pinch flat if you hit something with more force.

  12. I rode the sportive again this weekend and there was a lot more sand and gravel around than usual. I don’t know if that added to the risk of puncture as I rode the same tubeless setup and survived again. As an aside we did a few practice sessions on Friday on Arenburg with FDJ and Quickstep and that was very inspiring.

    • Just a passing thought that occurred to me when watching the riders make their way through the dense dust clouds. But the local air quality endured by the riders must have been pretty terrible.
      Fine PM10s and under that can get right down into the respiratory system.
      Paris-Roubaix in a dusty edition is probably akin to chin-smoking several duty-free cartons of the harshest cigarettes?

    • Thanks for the confirmation, Andy, of what could be the only viable explanation for the exceptional number of punctures we saw. Tubeless road tires don’t deal worse with gravel than special Paris-Roubaix tubulars, but both will never be immune against cuts from sharp edged rocks if you want them to also be very fast.
      It’s worth noting that Wout and his whole team rode 30 mm Dugast tubulars which were considered to be the best tires you could choose for P-R before tubeless road racing tires became a thing.

  13. I am normally not one to see the good in Ineos but can only say that van Baarle was very convincing. He rode away from all of them in this gritty PR.

  14. I wish there were a list of “Puncture” stats from this years race! Where there really a lot of punctures? or was it we just saw half a dozen at once and ran away with the idea?

    • I thought at first it was just me based on my less-than-sold opinion about all the tubeless tech hype but I’ve read reports on the ‘net both in English and Italian so I believe there were more flats than normal.

    • Probably impossible to tell. Certainly it affected a lot of the leading riders. It seems impossible to apply it to types of tyres as its difficult to know what everyone was riding. Even riders on the same team could have different types.

      I have seen video’s from spectators of 2 different Jumbo riders with collapsed wheels. WVA and another i,m not sure of. They are riding shimano tubulars i think looking at photo’s. Maybe they went to low on the pressures or something because these wheels must have been used in the past and by other teams.

  15. “… collapsed wheels.”? Very interesting. Any screen shot you could share or link to any that have been posted somewhere? Those are the kinds of things I think there’s an omerta about…the director in the truck cuts away quickly way-too-often when there’s a mechanical failure. The “F__king SRAM” moments are too rarely shown. It’s all you read about when “Brand X-equipped Groundpounder 5000 Wins!” but when it fails…
    The argument about faster speeds meaning more flat tires is kind of silly unless someone could point to the peloton entering the cobbled sections at 80 kph now vs 60 in the recent past, which I have doubts about. Sunday’s higher-than-average speed was attributed to the favorable winds…the same ones that led to the early split. My guess is the tubeless tech (not just the hype) is going to-the-limit, trying to come up with the lightest setups that will work and in 2022 perhaps they’ve gone too far, including sponsor pressures on teams to use the stuff, even if the seasoned veterans involved with the teams would prefer something more tried-and-true? How often have we seen sponsors forget about about “To finish first, first you have to finish”?

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