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A race for the ages: The 2022 Tour de France

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A race for the ages: The 2022 Tour de France

Well, it has now been a few days since the Tour de France came to its usual iconic finish on the streets of Paris, and some of you may be missing the action already. If this sounds like you, then we’ve got you covered. Today we’ll be taking a look back across the past three weeks of racing and picking some of our favourite moments that may well have flown under the radar, but which ought to rank as some of the biggest events of the race, and might have in any other year.

We all saw the amazing exploits of Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar in the high mountains, and they will quite rightly be the lasting memory of this year’s edition. This being said, there were some equally amazing victories and important stories that we want to refresh in your memory. So, with this in mind, let’s get back into the pure delight that was the 2022 Tour de France.

The Wolfpack bites back 

Before the race had even got underway, there was drama within the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl camp (when isn’t there?). Similar to a season earlier, the media interest surrounding the Belgian outfit’s sprinter selection was the centre of many fans’ attention. Mark Cavendish had just won the British National Championships and was seemingly in the form of his life, yet he was left out in favour of Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen. To some this was a controversial, even disappointing move by team boss Patrick Lefevere that was made worse by homeland hero Julian Alaphilippe not being selected due to fitness concerns.

The team nicknamed ‘The Wolfpack’ therefore came to the start line in Denmark with a lot of question marks over their heads, as well as plenty of pressure to deliver. The rain then came down and caused chaos on the roads of Copenhagen, making the terrain treacherous and thus much slower. Peloton stalwart Yves Lampaert used this to his advantage to take an unexpected TT stage win, and with it the first yellow jersey of the Tour. Jakobsen then delivered a fine sprint to take victory the following day, making it a perfect start and silencing some of the doubters. At least to start out with.

 

Froome shows a glimmer of his former self 

It may now have been some time since we saw the very best of Chris Froome, considered perhaps the greatest Grant Tour racer of his generation, but you simply have to admire the determination and commitment to his craft that has brought the Brit back to anywhere near the pinnacle of the sport. The four-time victor of the Tour was one of the surprise names on the start list for Israel-Premier Tech, and after a tough start he began to show himself more and more.

The true indication of Froome’s return to form could not be in the numbers, that he has long been saying have shown encouraging signs. He needed to show it on the road, and on stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez he did just that. Attacking alongside his young countryman Tom Pidcock, Froome looked like a man reborn. Pedalling in a way that we hadn’t seen since his last Grand Tour win in 2018.

Eventually the youthful vigour of Pidcock prevailed, the 22-year-old taking the stage win atop the Alpe. For Froome, who came third and held off the charging GC battle behind, it was the best result since his horrific accident in 2019. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see Froome take that elusive win soon.

 

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A post shared by Chris Froome (@chrisfroome)

Hugo Houle takes an emotional victory

A stage win at the Tour de France is an emotional affair, whether you’ve taken 34 or none. For Canadian Hugo Houle of Israel-Premier Tech, his win on stage 16 held extra significance. Not only was it Houle’s first ever professional victory (outside national championship titles), which in itself is a major event for any rider, he dedicated it to his sadly deceased brother Pierrik.

For the past ten years, Houle has been racing hard with his brother’s memory in both his heart and his mind, knowing that one day the time would come that he took that first win and delivered on the sole objective of his entire career. Houle just wanted to win for his brother who he’d watched the Tour with as a kid growing up in Canada.

In terms of the win itself, it was a fabulous move made just before the breakaway hit the slopes of the testing Mur de Péguère that dealt the decisive blow to the rest of the escapees. Houle then rode on solo for the remaining 38km of the day to take a win that may not be seen as iconic to the wider audience, but to Houle it will never be forgotten.

After crossing the line, Houle proclaimed that, “Today was for him.”

 

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A post shared by Hugo Houle (@hugohoule)

Laporte gets a stage win for the French 

There has only been one country that has taken a stage win in every edition of the Tour de France since the turn of the century, and that is the home nation France. Up until the latter stages of this year’s race, this record looked as though it may have been under threat, however.

The usual stars weren’t shining so brightly, Thibaut Pinot looked past his best, Guillaume Martin was forced to abandon early into the race, and world champion Julian Alaphilippe missed out altogether. Step forward Christophe Laporte, one of the most impressive performers of the entire three weeks.

The former Cofidis lead-out man has been a rider transformed at Jumbo-Visma, having already tasted success at Paris-Nice and the Spring Classics earlier in the season. On this day though, it was a gutsy move to bridge the shrinking gap to the breakaway that delivered France their stage win. Laporte jumped across to the group just as they were being caught before launching his sprint for the line, leaving the peloton’s fast men settling for scraps.

 

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A post shared by Christophe Laporte (@chris_lap)

Philipsen proves he is the fastest

 It has been a long and often arduous journey towards a first Tour de France stage victory for Jasper Philipsen. In 2021, he had to deal with shared leadership with Tim Merlier who won stage 3, not to mention the seemingly unbeatable Mark Cavendish on his march to the green jersey, only to beat the Manxman on the final stage and lose to Wout van Aert instead. 2022 looked at first to be going the same way for Alpecin-Deceuninck’s resident fast man.

On stage 4 of the race, Philipsen came home a creditable second place following a searing attack 10 kilometres earlier by Van Aert to take the win. The Belgian proceeded to let out a huge roar and celebrate like he had taken the win, much to the amusement of Christophe Laporte who rolled in alongside him. It looked destined not to be for Philipsen.

This run of bad luck changed on stage 15 though, with Philipsen besting his sprinting rivals to take a truly deserved first Tour de France win. After climbing through the Pyrenees better than any of his rivals (except for Van Aert of course), Philipsen took home his second stage win of the race on the fabled Champs-Élysées, the grand finale of the race which is often seen as the unofficial sprinters’ world championship. In an edition short of opportunities for the sprinters, Philipsen was the only one of them to go home with more than one victory. Most took nothing from the race. Philipsen may well be the fastest man in the peloton right now.

It was another vintage edition of the Tour de France, and there will surely be other great moments and memories that you will have taken from the race. If you want to experience more of this great drama, then you should check out the Tour de France Femmes too. There is still plenty of great racing to come this season and if you deicide to go and experience it for yourself, make sure to take out travel insurance before you make the trip.

Until next time, Vive le Tour!

 

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