Fabian Cancellara: 'Paris-Roubaix is unique – you will not find any other bike race like it in the world'

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Fabian Cancellara - AP
Fabian Cancellara - AP

Fabian Cancellara, the retired Swiss cobbled classics specialist, has said Paris-Roubaix is a 'unique' race, while adding that despite winning three editions of the race during his career, he initially 'hated' the cobbles of northern France.

Cancellara, who won the race in 2006, 2010 and 2013 before retiring after the Rio Olympics where he won time trial gold, spoke to Telegraph Sport recently, explaining what it takes to win the race.

“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.”

“At first I hated racing on the cobbles – I was not mentally prepared for my first Paris-Roubaix in 2003 and I failed. 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.

“You need mental strength to succeed at Paris-Roubaix. Of course you need other skills, physical strength, good bike handling and so on, but being mentally strong is very important.

“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.”

What is this race and why should I care about it?

Whether or not Paris-Roubaix is the toughest one-day race in cycling remains a moot point, particularly if you are Belgian, but is is certainly one of the most evocative in the men's – and now women's – calendar.

Paris-Roubaix 2022: When is it, who is on the starting list and how can I watch the cobbled classic? - GETTY IMAGES
Paris-Roubaix 2022: When is it, who is on the starting list and how can I watch the cobbled classic? - GETTY IMAGES

Possibly one of the most unique races in cycling due to the extensive sections of pavé, or cobblestones, that pepper the course, The Hell of the North can be decided as much by luck and bravery as tactical acumen.

Paris-Roubaix will for the men be the third monument of their season following Milan-Sanremo and Tour of Flanders.

Despite its title, the race has not departed from the French capital since 1967 after organisers moved the start line to around 60km north of Paris in Compiègne in 1968.

Paris-Roubaix had been dominated by the Belgian riders who have won 57 of the 118 editions, including Philippe Gilbert who triumphed in 2019. France has had 28 victories. No Briton has won the men's race, though three have stood on the third step of the podium – Barry Hoban (1972), Roger Hammond (2004) and Ian Stannard (2016).

When is Paris-Roubaix?

The men's race takes place on Sunday April 17, 2022 – moving back a week from its traditional slot due to the first round of the French presidential elections that will take place on April 10. The women's race is the day before.

How long is the race?

The 119th edition of the men's event, setting off from Compiègne at 10.15am (BST) and finishing in the same velodrome as the women the previous day, is 257.2km and will feature numerous cobbled sections of road. The scheduled finishing time is between 4.05pm and 4.40pm.

What route does the race follow?

Paris-Roubaix 2022: When is it, who is on the starting list and how can I follow the cobbled classic?
Paris-Roubaix 2022: When is it, who is on the starting list and how can I follow the cobbled classic?

How long are the cobbled sectors and where are they?

How can I watch this year's race?

Those lucky enough to have subscriptions can watch the action on Eurosport or GCN Race Pass. If you cannot watch the race on TV – or your smartphone – then you can follow the action here, so bookmark this page and return on the day of the race and follow it with us.

What does the men's startlist look like?

As with all WorldTour races, each of the 18 teams that make up the top-flight of men's professional 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.

While the final starting list has yet to be confirmed, the vast majority of squads have named their starting riders. Riders in bold are either scheduled to start or are strongly rumoured to be doing so. Telegraph Sport will update between now and Sunday morning.

WorldTeams

Ag2r-Citroën (Fra)

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), Samuele Battistella (Ita), Manuele Boaro (Ita), Gleb Brussenskiy (Kaz, neo-pro), Valerio Conti (Ita), Stefan de Bod (SA), David de la Cruz (Spa), Joe Dombrowski (US), Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz, neo-pro), Fabio Felline (Ita), Michele Gazzoli (Ita, neo-pro), Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz), Sebastián Henao (Col), Miguel Ángel López (Col), Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz), Davide Martinelli (Ita), Gianni Moscon (Ita), Yuriy Natarov (Kaz), Antonio Nibali (Ita), Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Nurbergen Nurlykhassym (Kaz, neo-pro), Vadim Pronskiy (Kaz), Alexandr Riabushenko (Blr), Javier Romo (Spa, neo-pro), Harold Tejada (Col), Simone Velasco (Ita), Artyom Zakharov (Kaz), Andrey Zeits (Kaz).

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).

BikeExchange-Jayco (Aus)

Alexandre Balmer (Swi, neo-pro), Jack Bauer (NZ), Luke Durbridge (Aus), Jan Maas (Ned), Luka Mezgec (Slo).

Bora-Hansgrohe (Ger)

Marco Haller (Aut), Jonas Koch (Ger), Martin Laas (Est), Jordi Meeus (Bel, neo-pro), Nils Politt (Ger), Ide Schelling (Ned).

Cofidis (Fra)

Piet Allegaert (Bel), Sander Armée (Bel), François Bidard (Fra), Tom Bohli (Swi), Andre Carvalho (Por), Thomas Champion (Fra, neo-pro), Davide Cimolai (Ita), Simone Consonni (Ita), Bryan Coquard (Fra), Alexandre Delettre (Fra, neo-pro), Rubén Fernández (Spa), Eddy Finé (Fra), Simon Geschke (Ger), Jesús Herrada (Spa), José Herrada (Spa), Ion Izagirre (Spa), Wesley Kreder (Ned), Victor Lafay (Fra), Guillaume Martin (Fra), Anthony Perez (Fra), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra), Alexis Renard (Fra), Rémy Rochas (Fra), Szymon Sajnok (Pol), Benjamin Thomas (Fra), Hugo Toumire (Fra, neo-pro), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel), Davide Villella (Ita), Jelle Wallays (Bel), Max Walscheid (Ger), Axel Zingle (Fra, neo-pro).

DSM (Ger)

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)

Daniel Arroyave (Col, neo-pro), Alberto Bettiol (Ita), Stefan Bissegger (Swi, neo-pro), Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu), Diego Camargo (Col, neo-pro), Simon Carr (GB, neo-pro), Hugh Carthy (GB), Esteban Chaves (Col), Magnus Cort (Den), Owain Doull (GB), Odd Christian Eiking (Nor), Ruben Guerreiro (Por), Ben Healy (Irl, neo-pro), Alex Howes (US), Jens Keukeleire (Bel), Merhawi Kudus (Eri), Sebastian Langeveld (Ned), Lachlan Morton (US), Hideto Nakane (Jpn), Mark Padun (Ukr), Neilson Powless (US), Sean Quinn (US), Jonas Rutsch (Ger), Tom Scully (NZ), James Shaw (GB), Georg Steinhauser (Ger, neo-pro), Rigoberto Urán (Col), Michael Valgren (Den), Julius van den Berg (Ned), Marijn van den Berg (Ned, neo-pro), Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol).

Groupama-FDJ (Fra)

Bruno Armirail (Fra), Lewis Askey (GB, neo-pro), Matteo Badilatti (Swi), Clément Davy (Fra, neo-pro), Arnaud Démare (Fra), Antoine Duchesne (Can), David Gaudu (Fra), Kevin Geniets (Ned), Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita), Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu), Stefan Küng (Swi), Mathieu Ladagnous (Fra), Olivier Le Gac (Fra), Fabian Lienhard (Swi), Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe), Valentin Madouas (Fra), Rudy Molard (Fra), Quentin Pacher (Fra), Thibaut Pinot (Fra), Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi), Anthony Roux (Fra), Miles Scotson (Aus), Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned), Jake Stewart (GB, neo-pro), Michael Storer (Aus), Attila Valter (Hun), Lars van den Berg (Ned, neo-pro), 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), Sebastian Berwick (Aus, neo-pro), Patrick Bevin (Aus), Jenthe Biermans (Bel), Guillaume Boivin (Can), Matthias Brändle (Aut), Alexander Cataford (Can), Simon Clarke (NZ), Alessandro De Marchi (Ita), Alex Dowsett (GB), Itamar Einhorn (Isr), Chris Froome (GB), Jakob Fuglsang (Den), Omer Goldstein (Isr), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor), Ben Hermans (Bel), Reto Hollenstein (Swi), Hugo Houle (Can), Daryl Impey (SA), Taj Jones (Aus, neo-pro), Krists Neilands (Lat), Guy Niv (Isr), Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita), James Piccoli (Can), Guy Sagiv (Isr), Corbin Strong (NZ, neo-pro), Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel), Sep Vanmarcke (Bel), Michael Woods (Can), Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Den), Rick Zabel (Ger).

Jumbo-Visma (Ned)

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).

Lotto-Soudal (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).

Movistar (Spa)

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).

Trek-Segafredo (US)

Jon Aberasturi (Spa), Filippo Baroncini (Ita, neo-pro), Julien Bernard (Fra), Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Marc Brustenga (Spa, neo-pro), Dario Cataldo (Ita), Giulio Ciccone (Ita), Jakob Egholm (Den), Kenny Elissonde (Fra), Tony Gallopin (Fra), Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri), Asbjorn Hellemose (Den, neo-pro), Markus Hoelgaard (Nor), Daan Hoole (Ned, neo-pro), Alexander Kamp (Den), Alex Kirsch (Lux), Emils Liepins (Lat), Juan Pedro López (Spa), Bauke Mollema (Ned), Jacopo Mosca (Ita), Matteo Moschetti (Ita), Mads Pedersen (Den), Simon Pellaud (Fra), Quinn Simmons (US), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Den, neo-pro), Toms Skujins (Lat), Jasper Stuyven (Bel), Edward Theuns (Bel), Antonio Tiberi (Ita, neo-pro), Antwan Tolhoek (Ned), 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).

ProTeams

Alpecin-Fenix (Bel)

Silvan Dillier (Swi), Senne Leysen (Bel), Tim Merlier (Bel), Mathieu van der Poel (Ned), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel), Gianni Vermeersch (Bel), Julien Vermote (Bel).

Arkéa-Samsic (Fra)

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), Cyril Barthe (Fra), Alan Boileau (Fra), Franck Bonnamour (Fra), Maxime Chevalier (Fra), Jens Debusschere (Bel), Thibault Ferasse (Fra), Cyril Gautier (Fra), Alexis Gougeard (Fra), Miguel Heidemann (Ger), Jonathan Hivert (Fra), Quentin Jauregui (Fra), Victor Koretzky (Fra), Adrien Lagrée (Fra), Axel Laurance (Fra), Jérémy Lecroq (Fra), Cyril Lemoine (Fra), Julien Morice (Fra), Luca Mozzato (Fra), Raphaël Parisella (Can), Pierre Rolland (Fra), Sebastian Schönberger (Aut), Jordi Warlop (Bel).

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)

Ruben Apers (Bel), Jenno Berckmoes (Bel), Kamiel Bonneu (Bel), Vito Braet (Bel), Alex Colman (Bel), Sander De Pestel (Bel), Lindsay De Vylder (Bel), Gilles De Wilde (Bel), Tuur Dens (Bel), Milan Fretin (Bel), Robbe Ghys (Bel), Rune Herregodts (Bel), Jules Hesters (Bel), Arne Marit (Bel), Julian Mertens (Bel), Jens Reynders (Bel), Aaron Van Poucke (Bel), Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel), Ward Vanhoof (Bel), Aaron Verwilst (Bel), Sasha Weemaes (Bel).

TotalEnergies (Fra)

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita), Mathieu Burgaudeau (Fra), Jérémy Cabot (Fra), Víctor de la Parte (Spa), Fabien Doubey (Fra), Sandy Dujardin (Fra), Valentin Ferron (Fra), Alexandre Geniez (Fra), Fabien Grellier (Fra), Alan Jousseaume (Fra), Pierre Latour (Fra), Chris Lawless (GB), Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra), Daniel Oss (Ita), Paul Ourselin (Fra), Cristián Rodríguez (Spa), Juraj Sagan (Svk), Peter Sagan (Svk), Julien Simon (Fra), Geoffrey Soupe (Fra), Niki Terpstra (Ned), Anthony Turgis (Fra), Dries Van Gestel (Bel), Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra).

Uno-X (Nor)

Jonas Abrahamsen (Nor), Idar Andersen (Nor), Erlend Blikra (Nor), Anthon Charmig (Den), Fredrik Dversnes (Nor), Niklas Eg (Den), Jonas Gregaard (Den), Tord Gudmestad (Nor), Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor), Anders Halland Johannessen (Nor), Tobias Halland Johannessen (Nor), Lasse Norman Hansen (Den), Jacob Hindsgaul (Den), Adne Holter (Nor), Morten Hulgaard (Den), Kristian Kulset (Nor), Sindre Kulset (Nor), Niklas Larsen (Den), William Blume Levy (Den), Erik Resell (Nor), Lars Saugstad (Nor), Anders Skaarseth (Nor), Iver Skaarseth (Nor), Torjus Sleen (Nor), Rasmus Tiller (Nor), Torstein Traeen (Nor), Martin Urianstad (Nor), Soren Waeenskjold (Nor), Syver Waested (Nor).

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