Tour de France 2022 Preview
It’s that time of the year again! The 109th edition of the Tour de France is finally upon us, three weeks of relentless racing on the roads of France (and Denmark) will see the best riders in the world take on mountains, hills, and cobbles on the long road to Paris. Today we’ll be previewing La Grande Boucle with a look at some of the key stages, contenders, and sprinters. Are you excited yet? If not, you will be shortly.
Stage 2 – Roskilde to Nyborg – 202.2km – Flat
It may look like a routine day for the overall contenders with a bunch sprint expected in Nyborg, however the crossing of the 18km-long Great Belt Bridge could prove a major stumbling block towards the end of the race. The peloton will be exposed to the wind for a long period meaning echelons are likely to form. If they do, contenders for both the stage and the general classification could find themselves out the back.
Stage 5 – Lille to Arenberg Porte Du Hainaut – 153.7km – Flat/Cobbles
Perhaps the most highly anticipated stage of this edition, stage 5 could leave some out of contention before the first week is complete. This relatively short stage features 11 cobbled sectors, some of which feature on the route of Paris-Roubaix. This is a day where having a strong team around you will be of critical importance. If the typical rain of northern France comes into play, it could be even more dramatic.
Stage 12 – Briançon to L’Alpe d’Huez – 165.1km – Mountains
Bastille Day on the Tour de France always serves up a special parcours, and this year is no different. The return of the legendary Alpe d’Huez and its 21 hairpins will send shivers down the spines of every rider at the start line. The stage also includes ascensions of the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix de Fer for good measure, meaning that there will be 4,750m of climbing for the riders to take on. Last time around Geraint Thomas took a famous stage win atop the Alpe and went on to win overall – can the Welshman repeat this feat in 2022?
Stage 18 – Lourdes to Hautacam – 143.2km – Mountains
The final summit finish of this year’s race, stage 18 features two hors-catégorie climbs with a 1st category ascent nestled in between. This will be the third of a trio of Pyrenean stages in the final week, so by now the riders legs will be burning every time the rode heads skywards. The most important portion of the day may not be a climb however, with the descent of the Col de Spandelles allegedly being impassable until the recent changes made by the local government. This change also allows for the final climb to be taken on from a different angle, so nobody will know what to expect on the slopes of the Hautacam.
Stage 20 – Lacapelle-Marival to Rocamadour – 40.7km – ITT
As has been the case for the past few editions, the Tour de France will be decided with the race of truth. A 40km Individual Time Trial is longer than many expected to see when the route was announced, but it is here, and it will be a real test after three weeks of racing. The stage victory should go to a specialist, but the finale is biting, with a 1.5km drag at an 8% average gradient on the menu. Whoever is wearing yellow going into today will need to have strong legs to hold on to it before we reach Paris.
Tadej Pogačar – The clear man to beat, the now two-time yellow jersey winner looks near enough unbeatable at his best. Having taken wins at a series of races already this season, most recently his native Tour of Slovenia, few would bet against him making it a hat-trick of wins this year.
Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard – Jumbo-Visma head to this year’s race with the dual ambition of taking yellow and green, which they successfully managed at the traditional Tour de France warm-up race the Critérium du Dauphiné. To do this at the Tour is another question though. They’ll have Roglič as their primary leader, and he looks strong having taken the overall win at the Dauphine, but with question marks still surrounding the Slovenian, it may well be that last year’s runner-up Vingegaard steps up once more.
Ineos Grenadiers – In the past, fans of the Ineos Grenadiers mocked the trident leadership approach undertaken by Movistar to try and beat Chris Froome. The tables have now turned though, and Dave Brailsford’s men are doing anything they can to topple the Slovenians. They’ll have the in-form Geraint Thomas as their main man, fresh from overall victory at the Tour de Suisse, but also the ever-capable Adam Yates and Dani Martinez in reserve if required. A podium place should be within reach.
Aleksandr Vlasov – Winner of two stage races already this season, the 25-year-old climber looks like a good outsider at his first Tour de France. However, like many others, his level is in question after falling victim to the Covid-19 wave at the Tour de Suisse, which forced him out after winning a stage.
Enric Mas – A pure climber by nature, Mas will likely lose time on the cobbles and against the clock, but could claw some of this back in the mountains, and he’ll benefit from the full backing of Movistar this time around. After consistent top six finishes in his last four Grand Tour appearances, Mas is in with a small chance of a podium place providing he climbs well and has recovered from his Dauphiné crash.
Other contenders: Ben O’Connor, Jack Haig, Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, Guillaume Martin, David Gaudu
Fabio Jakobsen – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s selection dilemma would be decided on the road said team boss Patrick Lefevere, and that means that Mark Cavendish misses out this season. Instead, flying Dutchman Jakobsen will take to the start as arguably the fastest man in the peloton. He’ll take some beating in bunch sprints.
Caleb Ewan – It’s been a tough season for Ewan, with some suggesting he should have been left out of the Lotto Soudal squad in favour of youngster Arnaud De Lie. Ewan’s one of the more successful sprinters on the startlist with five Tour stage wins to his name, but the Aussie has a point to prove this year.
Wout van Aert – Van Aert is favourite to take the green points jersey, and it’s hard to look past the Belgian at the moment. His main weakness may be that he could be drafted in to defend the overall hopes of Roglič or Vingegaard if his multi-hyphenate talent is needed. An alleged knee injury may also be of some concern.
Jasper Philipsen – Chosen ahead of Tim Merlier, the Belgian will have the support of a formidable Alpecin-Fenix in the bunch sprints where he will hope to add to his six top-three finishes at the 2021 Tour.
Mathieu van der Poel – teammate of Philipsen, Van der Poel is heading to the Tour seeking more stage wins, which he’ll likely find on the more lumpy stages, but could contest more traditional sprints if Philipsen falls short.
Dylan Groenewegen – The Dutchman returns to the Tour with his new team BikeExchange-Jayco which has built a lineup around their sprinter hoping to take home a handful of stage wins.
Peter Sagan – Finally back to winning ways at the Tour de Suisse, the Slovakian is an outside bet to add to his immense stage tally and challenge for the green jersey.
Other sprinters: Bryan Coquard, Alberto Dainese, Alexander Kristoff, Michael Matthews
The Tour de France kicks off on July 1 and looks set to be another vintage edition of the world’s most famous bike race. If you’re planning on making the trip to France, then make sure you sort out cycle specific travel insurance before you leave to ensure you’re fully covered against any misfortune. Vive le Tour!
Words by Luke Williams