Favourites, times and how to watch the Tour of Flanders 2022: the fantastic 4 face each other

Road 30 mar. 2022 21:03 Migue A.

We already experienced it briefly at Milan-Sanremo, but the unexpected appearance of one of them at the last minute and the stomach problems of the other prevented us from savouring it properly. Now, the second monument of the year brings us the 4 greats of cycling today (Van der Poel, Van Aert, Pogacar and Pidcock) supposedly in top form, for an all-out battle. We know that none of them take prisoners when it comes to winning. And, to ensure you don't miss a moment or a key point of this crucial moment of the season, here are the favourites, the times and how to watch the Tour of Flanders 2022 this Sunday, 3 April. Enjoy it, you don't know how many more times you'll be able to see this poker of modern myths in action.

Tour de Flandes 2022 favoritos

Favourites for the Tour of Flanders 2022

A race with Mathieu Van der Poel, Wout Van Aert, Tom Pidcock and Tadej Pogacar at the start needs no other favourites. And, let's not deny it, they are the ones called to glory, as well as by far the most mediatic. But we've allowed ourselves to add a fifth to the list, not just because he beat most of them with authority last year, but because someone from Patrick Lefevere's Quick-Step is always going to be competitive in Flanders. Always. This is almost an axiom of cycling.

By the way, Van Aert and Van der Poel are now tied for a monument (Milan-Sanremo 2020 for the Belgian, Flanders 2020 for the Dutchman). They are racing for the tie-breaker in this 106th edition of the race. And we know how much this rivalry matters.

Tour de Flandes 2022 favoritos Van der Poel

Mathieu Van der Poel

  • Age: 27.
  • Team: Alpecin-Fenix.
  • Best classification in Tour of Flanders: 1st (2020).
  • Main results in 2022: winner of 1 stage in the Coppi e Bartali International Week, 3rd in Milan-Sanremo.
  • Strategy: watts on the cobblestones and, if anyone can follow him, try it all the way to the finish line.

We spent the winter speculating whether he would make it in time for the classics season, after the string of injuries he had to go through. And the answer is that yes, he has. On his return to competition after 6 months he managed an incredible third place after the 300 km of the Milan-Sanremo (which didn't taste like much, because he commented afterwards that he was getting older and that it was another lost opportunity). And then he won Coppi e Bartali again, giving a recital of his own. So he arrives here as the absolute favourite. Only his nemesis, his bête noire, Wout Van Aert, seems stronger. But... will it be like that in reality?

Alpecin-Fenix have added the tough sprinter Jasper Philipsen, who might otherwise have been a second-tier contender, to their roster. But we suppose they have done it to throw them off the scent, or in case MVdP crashes and breaks his neck. Because, if in Across Flanders we said that it was feasible that the Dutchman could end up as a thrower, in Flanders there is no room for generosity.

Tour de Flandes 2022 favoritos Wout Van Aert

Wout Van Aert

  • Age: 27.
  • Team: Jumbo-Visma.
  • Best classification in Tour of Flanders: 2nd (2020).
  • Main results in 2022: winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and 1 stage in Paris-Nice.
  • Strategy: Ideally, he should go alone or with a teammate, as in Harelbeke. But he could also do with a small group, as he is likely to be the fastest.

This 2022, so far, he has always been the strongest on the cobbled hills. He was at Omloop, he was at E3 Harelbeke and he was even at Ghent-Wevelgem, but he got caught and that led to Biniam Girmay's victory. If he and his team (with two monsters like Benoot and Laporte) are just as unbeatable in the Tour of Flanders, there will be practically nothing to do for the others. This would put him ahead of his great rival with 2 monuments. One more motivation? It's been 5 years since a Belgian won 'at home' (since Philippe Gilbert in 2017), and he could be the one to restore pride to the country.

But he's not half machine, as Roglic says. He has already shown signs of weakness over very long distances, as in Milan-Sanremo, where we saw Pogacar's attacks push him to the limit. Tactics have never been his strong suit, so has he learned from his mistakes, or will he keep trying to go all out? The answer, on the Oude Kwaremont.

Tour de Flandes 2022 favoritos Tom Pidcock

Tom Pidcock

  • Age: 22.
  • Team: Ineos Grenadiers.
  • Best classification in Tour of Flanders: 41st (2021).
  • Main results in 2022: World Cyclo-cross champion. On the road, none: 13th in a stage of the Volta ao Algarve, which is very little for him.
  • Strategy: to hold on to Van Aert and Van der Poel on the hills and surprise them.

The biggest question mark of the day. After flying (almost literally) at the World Cyclocross Championships, he has not performed well on the road, presumably due to persistent stomach problems. But in case he has recovered, we know what he is capable of. This guy has already sprinted with Van Aert and beaten him at least once, maybe twice, depending on which photo finish you choose.

Just in case, they have plenty of options in their line-up. From classicist Dylan Van Baarle to one of the revelations of the season, Ecuadorian Jhonatan Narváez, through Luke Rowe (5th in 2016) or Michal Kwiatkowski.

Tour de Flandes 2022 favoritos Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar

  • Age: 23.
  • Team: UAE Team Emirates.
  • Best classification in Tour of Flanders: first time.
  • Main results in 2022: winner of the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and Strade Bianche.
  • Strategy: attack from afar, perhaps on the second pass through the Oude Kwaremont.

He has said about this week on the cobbles that he is entering unknown territory for him (he has never competed here before). He said that he will try to learn and master a terrain that is foreign to him, perhaps with a view to the Roubaix stage of this year's Tour. But, if he has the legs and the gap to start on a wall, does anyone believe that the terrible Slovenian won't try?

And, if he does, will Van Aert ride his wheel again as he did on the Poggio, risking a blowout, or will he wind him up and then try to hunt him down? This also seems a bad option after what happened at Strade Bianche. Although he won the Giro di Lombardia in his first participation, that classic was more suited to his characteristics, so it would be normal for the two-time Tour de France winner to have few options in the Ronde. However, as a dynamite rider who can turn the race upside down, he is priceless.

Tour de Flandes 2022 favoritos Kasper Asgreen

And the fifth man: Kasper Asgreen

  • Age: 27.
  • Team: Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.
  • Best classification in Tour of Flanders: 1º (2021).
  • Main results in 2022: 3rd in Strade Bianche and 4th in the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial.

Last year he blew us away when he won the Tour of Flanders over Mathieu Van der Poel in the sprint. We already knew he was good and that he had more speed than he looked, but still.... It was the confirmation of a classicist who reminds many people of Fabian Cancellara, and who also has a chance this season. In fact, he started very well, with a third place in Strade Bianche, only behind Pogacar and Valverde, but everything went wrong when he got the peloton virus a month ago.

His team-mates Davide Ballerini, Florian Sénéchal, Yves Lampaert or Mikkel Frolich Honoré should be there at the front until well into the race, as they are superb specialists. This would allow Quick-Step to once again overwhelm their rivals with numerical superiority, as they used to. This year they haven't had much success yet, but they should never be underestimated.

Tour de Flandes 2022 otros favoritos

(Many) more candidates to win

Without a Peter Sagan who has had to stop his (disappointing, so far) season to undergo tests to explain his lack of fitness, and without a Julian Alaphilippe who has decided to focus on the Ardennes triptych, the Tour of Flanders 2022 has lost two other riders who could have been real protagonists. But there are a few names of their own (more or less media names, but who can aspire to victory).

The next favourite after the 5 already mentioned should be Matej Mohoric, given his good results this year, not only in Sanremo, but also in Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem, where he came close. Another very, very interesting outsider is Frenchman Anthony Turgis, second in the last Milan-Sanremo, who has been in the top 10 here for two years. And, as a squad, one of the strongest will be Trek-Segafredo, with Jasper Stuyven, Mads Pedersen and Quinn Simmons.

Victor Campenaerts, Tim Wellens, Greg Van Avermaet or Sep Vanmarcke are other veteran Belgians capable of bringing victory to the country, although none of them are at their best. The same goes for Alberto Bettiol, winner in 2019, and Matteo Trentin, who have been struggling with physical problems in recent times. Alexander Kristoff, Michael Matthews, Nils Politt or Stefan Küng could, in theory, make a splash. And then there are the Spanish assets: Movistar's Ivan Garcia Cortina and Alex Aranburu. Victor Koretzky, until recently a mountain biker, by the way, is making his debut in this monument with B&B Hotels-KTM.

Tour de Flandes 2022 femenino favoritas Van Vleuten

Top favourites in the women's race

This is the oldest women's monument, having been held continuously since 2004. And if you watched the beginning of the Movistar documentary this week, you will remember that Annemiek Van Vleuten won the 2021 Tour of Flanders with a solo attack, a decade after winning it for the first time. This year she is again the number 1 candidate and, if she wins, she would make history, as no woman has won it 3 times so far.

To do so, she will have to overcome a peloton with the best of the best in women's cycling at the moment. There will be, above all, a very powerful Trek-Segafredo, with Ellen Van Dijk (winner in 2014), Elisa Longo Borghini (2015), Lucinda Brand, Leah Thomas and the sprinter Elisa Balsamo, World Champion and winner of Alfredo Binda, Bruges-De Panne and Ghent-Wevelgem this year.

But there is also Lizzie Deignan (winner here in 2016, and last year in the first Paris-Roubaix), the always competitive Marianne Vos (she did it in 2013, and has been on the podium 3 other times), Marta Bastianelli (2019), Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak (2020), Lisa Brennauer (2nd last year), Lotte Kopecky (who has just won Strade Bianche).... Of course, there is no shortage of favourites.

Recorrido Tour de Flandes 2022

This is the route of the Tour of Flanders 2022

As if the 250 km were not enough for the riders, this edition of the Tour of Flanders comes with an important novelty: it is the longest since 1998. In total, for the men's race, 273 km will take the riders from Antwerp to Oudenaarde, crossing 18 climbs and 7 stretches of pavé, similar to those of recent years. In other words, we still haven't recovered the Grammont Wall and the Bosberg, which we lost a decade ago, when the finish line was moved to where it is today.

In any case, the hardness should be enough to open up differences between the strongest men in the race, despite the fact that the first half is practically flat, with no more difficulties than a couple of cobbled sections. After that, the Oude Kwaremont is passed for the first time, and then a rapid succession of walls, including the Molenberg, the Berg Ten Houte and the Kanarieberg, until the 200th kilometre.

And the final stretch starts at 218, 54 km from the finish: the Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg duo, then four climbs with the Taaienberg and the Kruisberg, and finally a new passage over the Oude Kwaremont and the tremendous Paterberg (just 360 of pavé with peaks of 20%), which is crowned just 14 km from the finish line. The women's course, at 159 km, shares the final 50 km with the men's, with only one pass (the last) over the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg.

Horarios y dónde ver el Tour de Flandes 2022

Times and how to watch Tour of Flanders 2022

This 106th edition will leave Antwerp a few minutes before 10:20 on Sunday morning, 3 April, and will finish in Oudenaarde between 16:30 and 17:00, according to the organisers' calculations. Of course, a monument like this is beautiful from start to finish, but if you can't devote 7 hours to it (we understand), a good place to get hooked is before the second to last pass through the terrifying Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg duo, a little after 15:00. Perfect time for a Sunday afternoon break.

And how to watch the Tour of Flanders 2022? As it is a race organised by Flanders Classics, in Spain it will be broadcasted by Eurosport, on the first channel it has within the different pay-per-view platforms. It will be shown in full for the men's race (from 10:30); and for the women's race, only the last hour, from 17:00. However, you will be able to watch both races in their entirety on the Eurosport Player online service and on the GCN+ internet subscription channel. The classics will not appear on Teledeporte until the ones organised by ASO (also responsible for the Tour de France), such as Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne or Liège-Bastogne-Liège, arrive.

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