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Roglic, Adam Yates sign up for GP Denain as Tour de France cobbles warm-up

ROUBAIX, FRANCE - JULY 15: Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team LottoNL - Jumbo / Cobbles / Pave / during the 105th Tour de France 2018, Stage 9 a 156,5 stage from Arras Citadelle to Roubaix on July 15, 2018 in Roubaix, France. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
Primoz Roglic on the cobbles at the 2018 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

Primož Roglič and Adam Yates aren't the sort of names you'd expect to see on a start list for the Grand Prix de Denain, but they'll be crashing over the cobblestones of northern France this month as a warm-up for the Tour de France

The Tour de France visits the cobbles on stage 5 of the 2022 edition in July, with the route from Lille to Wallers-Arenberg covering 19.4km of pavé across 11 sectors. 

The cobbles can cause chaos and could be just as pivotal to a yellow jersey hopeful's success as a mountain-top finish or a time trial. As such, Grand Tour riders who aren't used to cobbles or Classics riding often seek a warm-up in the preceding months. 

Whereas Paris-Roubaix is considered too intense and too important for testing the water, the nearby GP Denain on March 17 has been identified as an alternative by Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers. 

The 2022 edition was presented this weekend, with Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) among the big names on the provisional start list. 

Roglič, second overall at the 2020 Tour and three-time winner of the Vuelta a España, will line up alongside teammate Jonas Vingegaard, who was second at last year's Tour and will share leadership this year. The pair will be flanked by bigger frames from the team's Classics and sprint departments. 

As for Ineos, the inclusion of Yates would indicate he's in line for leadership of the team at this year's Tour. Egan Bernal was named as leader at the start of the year but since suffered life-threatening injuries and a comeback date is unknown. 

Richard Carapaz will reportedly stick to his plans to ride the Giro d'Italia, while 2018 winner Geraint Thomas will do the Tour. No Grand Tour programme was publicly assigned to Yates at the start of the year but his inclusion at the GP de Denain would suggest he'll be carrying the flag alongside Thomas in July. 

"The fact that the Tour de France crosses our region with the cobbles of the Lille-Arenberg stage on the programme certainly explains the presence of Tour de France favourites at our race," said Dominique Serrano, head of the organising committee, according to Sports Infos Nord de France.

The 2022 edition of the GP Denain, back in its spring slot after its autumn billing last year and its cancellation in 2020, both owing to the pandemic. The route, which has steadily added the amount of cobbles in recent years, will cover 206.3km, with 12 sectors of pavé totalling 20.8km.

For the moment, the trio are the only Tour de France contenders on the start list, which is largely made up of Classics riders like Niki Terpstra (TotalEnergies) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën Team).

The peloton will be made up of 20 teams, eight of which are WorldTour - the others being UAE Team Emirates, Bora-Hansgrohe, Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ, and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert.

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.