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Favourites cycle races of the season 2022


History, records and favourites in a complete guide to the 5 most important one-day cycle races of the season.

Milan-Sanremo | 19 March 2022

At 298 kilometres, the Milan-Sanremo is the longest one-day race. It is often decided by a group sprint along Via Roma, although in recent years the pure sprinters have found it difficult to judge the risk and seal victory. The most difficult tests are the Cipressa and the Poggio, climbs of about 200 metres’ elevation that, coming in the last 30 kilometres, can provide a springboard for the most explosive attacking riders.

The record for the most victories belongs to Eddy Merckx with a total of 7, but Costante Girardengo also deserves special mention: the rider from Piedmont made the podium in 10 consecutive races between 1917 and 1926, including 6 victories, 3 second places and 2 third places.

Why you should watch it

The Classicissima is the first of the five Monument Classics, and it’s also the simplest. Many riders fancy their chances, but it’s nearly always one of the established stars who emerges on top in Via Roma after an unpredictable and high-adrenalin race. The only thing for sure is that in 2021 the kilometres between the Poggio and Via Roma in Sanremo will be some of the most spectacular in, and in the end the rider with the right mix of endurance, explosiveness, cunning and uphill performance will come out on top.

The man to watch in Liguria for the last few years has been Philippe Gilbert: if he triumphs in Via Roma he will become the only cyclist in the modern era to seal victory in all 5 Monument Classics, an achievement pulled off by only 3 riders in cycling history (Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck and Rik Van Looy).

Favourites for 2022

*** Wout Van Aert

** Mathieu Van Der Poel – Julian Alaphilippe – Peter Sagan

* Philippe Gilbert – Caleb Ewan – Alexander Kristoff – Matej Mohoric

Tour of Flanders | 3 April 2022

260 kilometres, from Antwerp to Oudenaarde. There is little climbing, but the second half of the course is a killer. The altimeter readout has a jagged shape and the course is punctuated by a rapid succession of walls: short and very steep climbs, some with cobbled sections, mean that the race is arduous and spectacular.

Six riders in history have managed to win the ‘Ronde’ 3 times, including Fiorenzo Magni and Tom Boonen.

Why you should watch it

In Belgium this is the sports event of the year, and the Belgian riders are practically unbeatable: out of 105 editions, 69 have seen a Belgian cross the finishing line in first place. But for the last 4 years they have failed to do so, and in 2020 their most likely contender Wout van Aert missed out by only a few centimetres.

If there is a rematch of last year’s race a spectacle is guaranteed, but if the two favourites mark each other out of the race there will be no shortage of outsiders up for the challenge.

Favourites for 2022

*** Mathieu Van Der Poel – Wout Van Aert

*** Kasper Asgreen – Greg Van Avermaet

* Peter Sagan – Oliver Naesen – Mads Pedersen

Paris Roubaix | 17 April 2022

The Paris Roubaix isn’t a race, it’s a profession. To win it you need to know it by heart and judge the perfect moment to take a risk. Very few riders have won the Roubaix at their first attempt. Yet, the podium for the last edition was made up of 3 riders taking part for the first time. The Roubaix is the Hell of the North – it poses no difficulties in terms of climbs, but 55 kilometres of cobbles out of 257 kilometres overall break the muscles and the endurance of many participants.

The race reaches the finish in the spectacular Roubaix Velodrome, where the riders arrive in dribs and drabs. Only two riders have managed to win the race four times: Roger De Vlaeminck and Tom Boonen.

Why you should watch it

Over the last 10 years, there has been a different winner of the Roubaix each time. The impression is that a new period of domination by Van Aert and Van Der Poel is on the cards, but only the road will decide and neither of the two have won it…

Favourites for 2022

*** Wout Van Aert

** Mathieu van der Poel – Sonny Colbrelli

* Peter Sagan – Yves Lampaert – Greg Van Avermaet

Liège Bastogne Liège | 24 April 2022

The Liège is the oldest of the Classics, with the first race dating back to 1892, and for this reason it is also known as the Doyenne. This race is totally different to all the Classics that come before it in the racing calendar, since it has ascents totalling over 4,000 metres. A characteristic feature of the race is its côtes – climbs of a maximum of 4 kilometres and with average gradients of around 8%. So it is climbers with a fast sprint in their racing toolkit who emerge on top. As in the Milan-Sanremo, Eddy Merckx holds the winner’s record, with 5 victories.

Why you should watch it

Because it takes class to win a race like this. The Liège can be won climbing, on the downhill or in the sprint, but each rider has only one shot to fire. The competition between Classic hunters and stage-race riders is back: in the last two editions, the (Slovenian) grand tour champions have prevailed and the World Champion has a score to settle.

Favourites for 2022

*** Julian Alaphilippe

** Tadej Pogacar – Primoz Roglic

* Alejandro Valverde – Tom Pidcock – Marc Hirschi

Il Lombardia | 8 October 2022

It’s the tough climbs that make Il Lombardia a hard race. About 250 kilometres in length and 4,400 metres total ascent, this is a course for the pure climbers. Il Lombardia is the only Monument Classic to take place in autumn, hence its Classics name of Foglie Morte (the ‘Dead Leaves’). To win it you have to reach the end of the season still fresh and focused, because it’s impossible to come first by chance. This is demonstrated by the name of the rider won it the most times, Fausto Coppi – the ‘Campionissimo’ – who crossed the finishing line on as many as 5 occasions.

Why you should watch it

Il Lombardia is the Classic that Italian riders have won most, as many as 69 times. In 2022 we will see if Nibali is still the Italian flag bearer for this race or if an Italian heir to his crown will finally emerge.

Favourites for 2022

*** Julian Alaphilippe – Remco Evenepoel

** Tom Pidcock – Vincenzo Nibali

* Primoz Roglic – Thibaut Pinot – Egan Bernal

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