There is a massive difference between being good enough to finish in the top-10 and being good enough to win this race. In fact, if you look at the list of winners of this race since 2015 and compare to the Paris-Roubaix’s, you would certainly assume that the Strade Bianche was the most prestigious of the two classics. Zdenek Stybar, Fabian Cancellara, Michal Kwiatkowski, Tiesj Benoot, Julian Alaphilippe, Wout Van Aert, and Mathieu Van der Poel. Those are the most recent winners of this race. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a classic race with such high-caliber winning names, over the past decade.
Last year’s winner, Van der Poel will, sadly, not line up this year to defend his title, due to injury. There will certainly be many riders looking to take over his crown. Below are the five I would put my money on to win the 2022 Strade Bianche.
Honorable mentions: Matej Mohoric, Alejandro Valverde, Jakob Fuglsang, Romain Bardet, Greg Van Avermaet.
- Tim Wellens
Already won this year and is always a threat in these kinds of races. He was 13th last year and his best result is a 3rd place in 2017. As I said, I believe the number of riders that are able to actually win this race is incredible small, especially with the absences of Van der Poel and Van Aert. So while I think Wellens certainly has the ability to be part of the winning move of this race and hang on until close to the end, I would still firmly place him in a secondary tier of contenders.
- Tiesj Benoot
The Belgian rider achieved the defining victory of his career so far, in 2018, in this exact race. He brilliantly bridged the gap alone to then race leaders Van Aert and Bardet before leaving them behind with around 10km to the line. As mentioned, Van Aert isn’t taking part in this year’s Strade Bianche which surely mean that Benoot will be handed the leader’s role in Jumbo-Visma. Throughout the past few years, he hasn’t confirmed the promise he showed in the beginning of his career. This will only get tougher now that he signed for Jumbo Visma. His ambitions will certainly take a back seat to Wout Van Aert’s, and the team’s objectives. Still, he’s only 27 years of age and I’m sure he has the ability to win this race. I’ve seen him do it.
- Tadej Pogacar
The Slovenian prodigy just won his second consecutive UAE Tour and I’m sure he wants to add the 2022 Strade Bianche to his palmarés. He has taken part in this classic in the last 3 years and has consistently improved: 30th, 13th, and 7th. Without the two big classics favorites of this generation, Pogacar’s chances widen significantly, and I would be surprised if he’s not near or at the front when the race is decided.
- Thomas Pidcock
He’s the World Cyclo Cross Champion and is very focused after last weekend’s blunders. The young British rider finished in 5th place last year and with an additional year of experience and a weaker field at the top this year is certainly one of the biggest favorites to win this year’s race.
- Julian Alaphilippe
Winner of the 2019 edition in epic fashion over Jakob Fuglsang, I don’t see anybody in Alaphilippe’s tier of favoritism at the start of the 2022 Strade Bianche. I think there is a massive difference between Pidcock, Pogacar and the rest, and I think that same difference exists between Alaphilippe and those wo young riders. He already wo in 2019, was 2nd last year, and has a hungry Quick Step classics machine behind him, that is certainly looking forward to improve upon their Omloop Het Nieuwsblad’s performance, last weekend.