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Who Will Be the Breakout Stars in April’s Classics?

By Joshua Donaldson

With sickness rife in the peloton at the moment, it is dashing some riders’ chances for a successful classics campaign. However, it means the door has been left ajar for others to make a name for themselves. But who will be able to take this chance and win big? In this article, we are going to look at those left-field picks who could take one of the crucial April races by storm. As ever, things change quickly in cycling, these predictions could be outdated by the time of race. In any case, here is one rider per race who can shake things up.


2021 Paris-Roubaix
The incredible 2021 Paris-Roubaix.

Is there anyone who is as underrated and undervalued in the current peloton as Anthony Turgis? A constant figure at the sharp end in races, the Frenchman has shown over the years that he can hang with the best in the biggest of races. A big engine and a good sprint, he has a couple of ways of winning races. His Achilles heel comes in the form of his teammate, Peter Sagan, who overshadows him at races like Paris-Roubaix. However, Sagan has shown recently that he may not have the legs to contend with the best over the cobbles. Turgis, on the other hand, has. The TotalEnergies rider finished second at Milan-Sanremo to highlight his shape and he is experienced at Roubaix, with top 20s in his last two outings. He has the power and panache to handle the cobbles, only time will tell whether he can take the biggest victory of his career in front of his home crowd.

La Flèche Wallonne

In a stacked calendar of classics, the easiest to predict is La Flèche Wallonne. Finishing on the venomous Mur De Huy, this race allows the best puncheurs to rise to the top and take the victory. Therefore, it is hard to look past the likes of Julian Alaphilippe, Alejandro Valverde and Primož Roglič – the first two former winners – for this crown. However, one rider who could spring a surprise is Ben Tulett. The Brit who is now part of Ineos Grenadiers finished 20th as an 18-year-old at this race in 2020 when he rode for Alpecin-Fenix, bettering that by 8 places a year later. This trajectory, along with his victory in stage 3 of Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali at the end of March, suggests great form ahead of Flèche. The Brit has shown a lot of promise and although not currently on the start list for this race, it would be unthinkable for Ineos not to send him to it given his pedigree.

Unfortunately, for Tulett, there really is only one way to win Flèche and that is with a powerful attack late on. Given his improving record at the race, expect the 20-year-old to shine on the Mur when the going gets tough.


And finally, onto La Doyenne. LBL is the old lady of the cycling calendar, and it takes a special rider to claim victory in this monument. Last year, it was Tadej Pogačar and he will be odds on to repeat the feat in 2022. However, there is always a star-studded cast looking to seal their place in history once the race returns to Liege after 240+ km of racing. One person who could spring a real surprise is Aurélien Paret-Peintre. The 26-year-old Frenchman has been steadily improving over the last two seasons and showed his climbing legs on the tough final stage at this year’s Paris-Nice, finishing a credible seventh, leaving him placed 10th overall.

He will be part of a double act at LBL alongside Benoît Cosnefroy but expect APP to be the main attacker once the race hits the climbs in the finale. He finished 23rd on his last attempt at this race but he is likely to go better this time around given his strong showing in the Race To The Sun in March. Not only that but he has a quick finish, which he could utilise if he is part of a small group that leads the race going into the finish.

Whether any of these names win their respective races will be down to a share of luck and skill in what are undoubtedly some of the toughest races of the season but they all have the class to take the victory.