Track Cycling

TOUR’22 The PEZ Preview: The Battle of the Slovenians? – PezCycling News

Tour’22 Preview: It’s July, so that only means one thing… The Tour de France! The biggest bike race on the globe starts in Copenhagen this year before it visits the cobbles, the Alps and the Pyrenees before the Champs-Élysées finish-line. Ed Hood gives us his preview of the French behemoth – His Tour history, course and riders.

I guess it must have been 1969; I wandered into our living room in Cross Street, Kirkcaldy – a mining town in central Scotland, the tiny black and white TV was on in the corner and in proper BBC English an announcer was saying; ‘Eddy Merckx today became the first Belgian cyclist in 30 years to win the Tour de France.’

Merckx in 1969

The image was off this dude powering his bike around a track with the huge crowd going crazy, chanting his name, throwing hats and programmes in the air. Right there and then I knew there was only one sport for me. And now 46 years have passed since a Belgian won the Tour, with little chance of it happening any time soon – but then I never imagined I’d witness a British rider win le Tour.

Britain’s first Tour win – Wiggins

Enter Bradley Wiggins. . . Sometimes the Tour can be predictable, see most of the Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong dozen wins. But then there are the memorable ‘special editions’ – Lemond in ’89 and Pogačar just two years ago.

Lemond in ’89 – A special edition

What will we have in 2022, the expected ‘Pog and Rog Show’ in this 109th Tour de France, or will we be treated to a good rider becoming a great one on the biggest cycling stage in the world? Most likely the former – but we can hope. . .

2022 – The Pog and Rog show?


Welcome to Copenhagen

Stage One:
Barring a ‘mechanical’ it’s hard to see anyone but INEOS ‘Chronoman’ Pippo Ganna pulling on the maillot jaune at the end of 13.2 kilometres around beautiful Copenhagen, the venue for the Tour’s most northerly ever depart.

One for Ganna?

Stage Two:
Will end in a mass sprint but there’s potential for cross wind driven splits – like they say; ‘every day is a GC day’ and, ‘The Bigs’ teams will be twitchy on the start line of this one.

Sprint finish for stage 2 and 3

Stage Three:
Delivers more of the same as Stage Two before the circus leaves town.

Tour’22 – Danish days

Rest Day No.1 Transfer

Discover the entire route !

Stage Four:
The Tour proper starts today with a loop around Northern France and Dunkirk Four Day territory, cross winds and nasty little ‘monts’ are the order of the day.

Tour’22 on French soil

Stage Five:
Pan flat BUT with 11 secteurs of pave we’re sure to lose at least one GC contender today, I hate to sound ‘weight-ist’ but if you’re a tiny climber this just is not your day.

Those cobbles

Stage Six:
If yesterday was ‘Paris-Roubaix-esque’ then today is ‘Liège-Bastogne-Liège-esque’ a long day in the saddle at 220K and ideal for the ‘Baroudeur’ and ‘Classicer.’

Liège style stage 6

Stage Seven:
Whilst, ‘every day is a GC day’ this one is where the first clues about who’s, ‘on it’ and who isn’t will emerge with this first summit finish on the punishing and technical ‘La Super’ Planche des Belles Filles – gradients of up to 24% and dirt road awaits.

La planche des belles filles

Stage Eight:
Is for the ‘Baroudeur’ but that tough finish could see it coming back together as one or more of the GC guys flex their muscles in anticipation of the Alps.

Into Switzerland

Stage Nine:
Another for the breakaway on those nice, smooth Suisse roads but with some hard ascents in the mix.

Stage 9 – A day for a break?

Rest Day No.2 Morzine Les Portes du Soleil

Morzine for the second rest day

Stage 10:
If you missed the break on stage 9, then today could be your day but you best be a strong climber to handle the closing, romantically titled Montee de l’altiport de Megeve.

A tough day – Stage 10

Stage 11:
There’s no hiding place today, The Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier and closing Col du Granon see to that. A day where, the cliché, ‘you can’t win the Tour today but you sure as hell can lose it,’ really does apply.

Snow on the Galibier?

Stage 12:
Another monstrous day, the Galibier and Croix Fer are just the appetisers for the finale on one of the Tour’s legendary climbs – l’Alpe d’Huez. There will be breakaways but there’ll be a major GC shoot out on those hairpins – just everyone will want to win this one.

Alpe d’Huez

Stage 13:
The break will go BUT the sprint teams will drag it back together as the GC riders hide in the pack after two massive days.

Stage 13: Break or sprint?

Stage 14:
A definite breakaway, ‘Ardennes’ day with that nasty final ascent to the airstrip at Mende by way of Montee Laurent Jalabert where Steve Cummings pulled off that marvellous stage win in 2015.

A win from the break like Steve Cummings in 2015?

Stage 15:
The breakaway will try to go all the way, the sprint teams will try to make sure they don’t. It’ll be a hot day and maybe a windy one, the GC domestiques will be kept busy today.

Any chance of a sprint?

Rest Day No.3 Carcassonne

The third rest day in Carcassonne

Stage 16:
The Pyrenees, gnarly roads, heat and tough climbs – the break should succeed today.

Break day stage 16

Stage 17:
Short at just 130K with the first half on forgiving roads before a savage second half, it should be another successful day for the renegades.

Stage 17: Another chance for the break with a GC battle behind?

Stage 18:
A third hard day in the Pyrenees with a brutal finish on Hautacam, not the day for a, ‘jour sans.’ We’ll probably know who’s going to win this Tour by now but the organisers will be hoping that we don’t.

Hautacam was good for Nibali in 2014

Stage 19:
The teams who haven’t won anything will fight tooth and nail to make the break but if the sprint teams still have men standing they’ll be just as desperate to bring it together. No GC fireworks with a time test tomorrow but not an easy day.

Stage 20 – A long TT

Stage 20:
By no means pan flat and with a long drag to the line the specialists will have to work hard to beat the GC riders to win this 40.7K time test. The organisers will be hoping that it all comes down to today but those days in the mighty Pyrenees may well mean we know who the winner will be.

All the fun of the Paris finalé

Stage 21:
‘The Sprinters’ World Championship,’ on the Elysian Fields where the Good and the Great take their final rest. But not before those beautiful, crazy fast circuits on the cobbles.

Tour de France 2022

Tadej Pogačar [UAE Team Emirates & Slovenia]: just 23 years-old but the Tour winner for the last two years; he can climb, time trial, more than handle dirt roads and cobbles – whilst appearing to have the time of his life. It’s hard to see past him; the ‘naysayers’ would have it that his team isn’t the strongest – however, his right hand man, Rafał Majka looked far from weak in Slovenia where Pog treated us to a demonstration of his pre-Tour form. Then there’s the likes of George Bennet and Brandon McNulty – as I said, it’s hard to see past The Pog.

Rafał and Tadej were dominant in Slovenia

Primoz Roglič [Jumbo-Visma & Slovenia]: The 32 years-old looked to have the race won two years ago and then came THAT time trial and the start of the ‘Pog Era.’ He’s another complete rider, very strong in a time trial, an excellent climber and a man who can win a Classic as well as a stage race. His pre-Tour demo was The Dauphiné where he left us in no doubt about his form. And there are no caveats regarding his team – Van Aert, Benoot and the very strong Vingegaard should Rog stumble. If it wasn’t for Pog he’d be the choice of most to win the race.

Roglič was good in the Dauphiné, but so was Vingegaard

Those two are the hot favourites and it’s hard to see them not both being on the final podium; Vingegaard could be there too but who else is there?

Vlasov looked good in Suisse, until…

Alex Vlasov [BORA-hansgrohe & Russia]: The 26 years-old has had an excellent 2022 season, winning Valenciana and Romandie – and on course to win in Suisse until a Covid (+) sent him home. Has he recovered? The opening time trial in Copenhagen will give us the first clues.

Thomas – Final winner in Suisse, but…

Geraint Thomas [INEOS Grenadiers & Wales]: The genial 36 years-old knows what it takes to win the race and is backed by a very strong and battle proven team. His recent win in the Tour of Switzerland is perhaps less significant than it looks given that the peloton in that race was ravaged by Covid. It’s hard to see him on the podium but he’ll be in the mix.

Outside Tour bet – Ben O’Connor

Ben O’Connor [AG2R Citroen & Australia]: The 26 years-old Aussie won a stage and was fourth last year, his form is good with a recent third place in the Dauphiné confirming that. His team is strong and some see him as the antidote to Slovenian domination – but I’d remind them that there’s Vingegaard to think about too. But no doubt he’ll be hoping to, ‘do a Jai Hindley in the Giro.’

Jack Haig – Podium?

Jack Haig [Bahrain Victorious & Australia]: Let’s close with another Aussie, the 28 years-old emerged as a serious GC man in the Vuelta last year where he finished third. He was fifth in the recent Dauphiné and has been consistent all year, a podium? Perhaps.

Roman Bardet and Enric Mas? Maybe not

I could have included Enric Mas [Movistar & Spain] – Roman Bardet [Team DSM & France] but. . .

Hard to see past Team Slovenia. . .

To use another cliché, ‘The road will decide,’ but it’s very hard to see past Team Slovenia. . .

# Keep it PEZ for the ‘Daily Stage Race Reports’, ‘Rest Day Rants’ from Ed Hood, ‘Race BREAKDOWNS’ from Spencer Martin and ‘EUROTRASH’ on Mondays and Thursdays. #

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