(images credit: @ASO)

Startlist with dropouts

Sun 24 July – Stage 21: PARIS LA DÉFENSE ARENA>PARIS CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES 115.6km. Elevation gain 757m

Almost needless to say, this year’s Tour de France closes with the usual catwalk on the Champs-Élysées. A short stage, slightly undulating at the start and then centred on the Parisian circuit with the usual slightly uphill finish on the cobblestones. Bookmakers Favourites: J Philipsen 2, F Jakobsen 4, W Van Aert 4, D Groenewegen 6, C Ewan 9, A Dainese 15, M Pedersen 15, P Sagan 25.

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Fri 1 July – Stage 1: COPENHAGUE>COPENHAGUE 13.2km Time-Trial. Elevation gain 43m

Lampaert, surprising winner in Tour opener under the Copenhagen rain

Photo Credit: EPA/Bo Amstrup Words by Simone Gambino

Belgian Yves Lampaert (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl) surprisingly took the first yellow jersey of the 109th Tour de France, winning the opening stage along the 13,200-metre city circuit in Copenhagen. Patrick Lefevere’s rider clocked a time of 15’17″76, at an average of 51.778. It is a success, that of Lampaert today, that exalts this team that is always winning even when deprived of its spearheads, such as Julian Alaphilippe and Mark Cavendish in the case of this Tour. In second place, five seconds behind the winner, was another Belgian, Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma), who had the illusion of victory only to have it snatched from under his nose. Third, seven seconds behind, came the great favourite of the yellow race, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). The Komenda champion gave a disarming performance for his rivals, who rode with great caution on the wet course, sacrificing some ten seconds on the altar of caution. Fourth place for world time trial champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), 10 seconds behind Lampaert, certifies a bitter day for the Italian colours. There is no doubt that the fact that he raced in the rain damaged the rider from Verbania. Before him, the Swiss Stefan Bissegger (EF Education Easy Post), another of the big favourites on the eve of the race, had paid a heavy toll crashing twice in the insidious curves of the course. Ganna, in addition to the problems caused by the wet road, also had to reckon with a puncture which, despite the presence of the self-repairing system now present inside the tubulars, certainly slowed his bike down. The stage, as was to be expected, saw minimal gaps between the pretenders to the final success, all within a few seconds. It is to be expected that today’s ranking will remain as it is until the first France stage next Tuesday. Tomorrow’s second stage, 202 kilometres from Roskilde to Nyborg with only one pitfall, the Great Belt, an 18-kilometre-long bridge that ends just 3,000 metres from the finish line. In all likelihood, we will see the first Tour bunch sprint. Full results here

Ready to go and already the classification men are put under pressure with a rather short time trial, but still much longer than a prologue. Especially for climbers who are less skilful on the pace, it could be a major hurdle to overcome: on the first day, with fresh energy, the cronoman always gain more than at the end of the race. It should be noted, however, that it has a rather tortuous layout, with over 20 bends. Especially in terms of stage success, this could favour more explosive riders, suited to frequent relaunches, rather than those able to hold high speeds for a long time. Bookmakers favourites: F Ganna 2, S Bissegger 4, W Van Aert 4, M Van der Poel 10, S Kung 15.

Sat 2 July – Stage 2: ROSKILDE>NYBORG 202.2km. Elevation gain 1174m

Fabio Jakobsen Day! Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl makes it two in a row

Photo Credit: @ASO; Words by Simone Gambino

Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl) won the second stage of the 109th Tour de France, which took place on Danish soil over the 202 kilometres from Roskilde to Nyborg. Jakobsen, who just under two years ago had risked his life in a disastrous crash at the Tour of Poland, took his first success in the French race by burning off Belgian Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) at the finish line with local rider and 2019 world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo) taking third. Thanks to today’s place of honour, his second in two days, Van Aert took the yellow jersey, snatching it by just one second from Yves Lampaert (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl), who was victorious in the opening stage yesterday. The winner of the last two editions of the Tour, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) retained third place in the classification, eight seconds behind Van Aert. Today’s stage was consumed while waiting for the dreaded passage over the Great Belt, an 18-kilometre bridge, exposed to a wind that later proved to be absent, placed 21km from the finish. The early stages of the race were characterised by the escape of a quartet formed by Frenchmen Cyril Barthe and Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotel KTM), Norwegian Sven Erik Bystrom (Intermarchè Wanty Gobert) and Dane Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Easy Post). The latter won the day’s three GPMs, which were little more than flyovers, thus earning the right to wear the polka-dot jersey tomorrow. The peloton never let the breakaway get more than three minutes ahead, putting an end to it with 30 kilometres to go when Bystrom, the last to surrender, was caught. At this point, a very long sprint began to secure the places at the front of the peloton at the entrance to the bridge. This acceleration was behind two crashes, both caused by EF Education men. The first involved the captain of the men in pink, Rigoberto Uran, and Alberto Dainese (Team DSM), who lost his chance to take part in the final sprint. The second, three kilometres further on, caused by the Portuguese Ruben Guerreiro, involved some twenty riders including the yellow jersey Yves Lampaert. Thanks to the splendid work of team-mate Michael Morkov (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl), however, he was able to quickly rejoin the group. A third tumble, irrelevant for the classification as it occurred after the neutralisation of the minus three at the finish, was the prelude to the final sprint. The yellow jersey replaced the exhausted Morkov in preparing the ground for Jakobsen. The latter was skilful in beating Van Aert’s wheel, jumping him fifty metres from the final banner: two for two for the Wolfpack, who was given up for dead by many only 48 hours ago. Tomorrow sees the third and final Danish stage. They will travel 182 kilometres from Velje to Sonderborg on a course that, like today’s, could be exposed to the wind. After that it is highly unlikely that the epilogue will not be another bunch sprint with the bonus points that could cause some minor adjustments to the general classification. Full Results here

The first straight stage is rather long and mostly flat. It get undulated in the second quarter of the race to pass the first three GPMs of this Tour, covering some thirty kilometres that are particularly tricky. The second half of the race is instead completely flat. The stage may appear ideal for a brunch sprint but the winds in the flat section along the coast and on the final 21 km with the peloton entering Storebæltsbroen, that is the double bridge that crosses the strait of the Great Belt, can make things much more complicated. The race will go back on the mainland only at about 3. 5 km from the finish in Nyborg, and the peloton could break up into several sections due to the gusting wind. The Tour top contenders will have to be very careful if they do not want to lose precious time. Bookmakers favourites: F Jakobsen 2, D Groenewegen 5, J Philipsen 7, C Ewan 7, W Van Aert 8, M Pedersen 9.

Sun 3 July – Stage 3: VEJLE>SØNDERBORG 182km. Elevation gain 1409m

The third stage goes to Groenewegen with Van Aert second again

Image Credit: © Getty Images-Team BikeExchange-Jayco Words by Simone Gambino

Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange) won the third stage of the 109th Tour de France, the last on Danish soil, which took the yellow caravan from Velje to Sonderborg along 182 kilometres. Today’s success had an almost cathartic meaning for the orange sprinter, following by 24 hours that of his compatriot Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl). In August 2020, in a sprint at the Tour of Poland, the two were involved in an incident that came close to tragedy when a misconduct by Gronewegen almost cost Jakobsen his life. The fact that both are in the race, and have shared the first two sprints of this edition of the Grande Boucle, is almost miraculous.

Returning to today’s sprint, it recorded the third second place in three stages for Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma), who finished ahead of compatriot Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Deceuninck). With his six-second bonus, Van Aert consolidated his yellow jersey and increased his advantage in the general classification to seven seconds over Yves Lampaert (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl) and 13 seconds over the big favourite, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). In addition to the final sprint, the stage said very little. Dane Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Easy Post) repeated the previous day’s breakaway, thus strengthening his climbers’ polka dot jersey. A crash with 10 kilometres to go then involved some 40 riders including Filippo Ganna, Rigoberto Ran, Bauke Mollema, Chris Froome, Giulio Ciccone, Jack Haig, Michael Woods, Thibau Pinot, Guillaume Martin and Damiano Caruso. These arrived at the finish line 39 seconds late. On Tuesday, after the transfer to France and tomorrow’s scheduled rest day, the race resumes with a 171-kilometre stage along the North Sea from Dunkirk to Calais. It will take in a partially hilly route that will give the attackers some chances, although the third consecutive bunch sprint is unlikely to be avoided. Full results here

The third and final stage on Danish soil is along the same lines as the previous one: slightly shorter, with three more côtes scattered along the route and some tricky sections. We approach Sønderborg on wide, linear roads, passing just before the town centre (about 11km from the finish) a 500-metre spur and a descent of over 1km. This will be a very important point for the organisation of the sprint, considering that the speed will be very high, freezing the positions gained just before crossing the town centre: after crossing the bridge over the Als Sund, a rather winding track is followed, before returning to more linear roads about 6 km from the finish line. At this point there is a long section punctuated by a few semi-curves, but without any real changes of direction, which leads directly to the last curve. The final straight measures 750 metres. Beware of the wind on this stage as well: the sea is always in sight. Bookmakers favourites: F Jakobsen 1, D Groenewegen 5, J Philipsen 7, C Ewan 7, W Van Aert 7, M Pedersen 8.

Mon 4 July – Rest day / Transfer

Tue 5 July – Stage 4: DUNKERQUE>CALAIS 171.5km. Elevation gain 1894m

Van Aert wins and puts on a show

Wout Van Aert all'arrivo di Calais © A.S.O.-Pauline Ballet
Photo Credit: © A.S.O.-Pauline Ballet; Words by Simone Gambino

Yellow jersey Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) won the fourth stage of the 109th Tour de France, a 171-kilometre stage raced along the North Sea from Dunkirk to Calais, with a lone hand. The Flemish star was eight seconds ahead of compatriot Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Deceuninck) who, unaware that Van Aert was ahead of the peloton, cheered at the finish line, convinced he had won. Third place went to Frenchman Christophe Laporte (Jumbo Visma), the winner’s team-mate. The success, after three consecutive second places, consolidates Van Aert’s position in the yellow jersey. His lead over the second-placed Belgian Yves Lampaert (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl) has now increased to 25″ with Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), the big favourite of this Grande Boucle, third at 32″.

The stage featured, for the third day in a row, Danish rider Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Easy Post), who further strengthened his polka-dot jersey as leader of the climbers. Keeping him company, for over 100 kilometres of breakaway, was Frenchman Anthony Perez (Cofidis) who went on alone, after the Scandinavian had reeled in with 40 kilometres to go, being reabsorbed by the peloton with ten to go just as the race was being decided on the Cote de Cap Blanc-Nez. The forcing of the Jumbo Visma, dragged by an explosive Tiesj Benoot paved the way for the solo action of Van Aert who, after having had almost half a minute’s lead at the minus five, was able to resist the return of the group, thus winning his seventh stage at the Tour de France. Full results here

Tomorrow the first demanding stage of this edition of the yellow race will be staged. They will ride from Lille to Arenberg for 157 kilometres, creating a shortened version of Paris-Roubaix. In fact, the route will include 11 cobbled sections totalling almost 20 kilometres. Among these, historic sectors of the race of stones will be crossed such as those of Wandignies, Brillon, Sars et Rosieres, and, good last, Wallers, just six kilometres from the finish. The climbers, in particular, will have to do everything to come out unscathed or at least limit the damage.

The first French stage of this edition of the Tour de France will start in Dunkerque and the route will proceed parallel to the Belgian border until, after 30km, the first climb of the day, the Côte de Cassel (1.7 km at 4.2% almost all on cobblestones). The course remains nervous throughout its central part and makes things difficult for the sprinters until the very last kilometres. After the Sprint finish at Lumbres, after 63.2 km, there will be four côtes in the space of 50 km, starting with the Côte de Remilly-Wirquin (1.1km at 6.8%) after 71.8 km, followed by the Côte de Nielles-les-Bléquin (1.1km at 7.7%) and the Côte de Harlettes (1.3km at 6%) and finishing with the Côte du Ventus (1.1km at 4.8%) after 123.6 km. With around 27 km to go there is an unmarked climb of 2 km at 5% (Mont de la Louve) and then with with 22 km to go, the peloton will rejoining the coast, and probably meet the wind. The remaining kilometres will not only be beaten by the breeze, but also moved by other ramps: at -13 there is a first climb of 1 km at 5%, then immediately afterwards there is the last GPM of the day with 900 metres of rather demanding climbing (average 7.5%); the road descends for over a km and only becomes flat again 9 km from the finish line and always along the sea. In short, the sprinters will have to conquer it and the general classification favourites will have to keep their eyes open. Bookmakers favourites: W Van Aert 4, F Jakobsen 5, J Philipsen 7, C Ewan 8, M Pedersen 12, D Groenewegen 14, P Sagan 15, M Van Der Poel 16

Wed 6 July – Stage 5: LILLE MÉTROPOLE>ARENBERG PORTE DU HAINAUT 157km. Elevation gain 530m

Clarke wins a crash-marred stage 5, Pogacar gains seconds and Van Aert keeps the yellow in a difficult day for Jumbo-Visma

Simon Clarke, a destra, vince; Taco Van der Hoorn, a sinistra, perde © Israel-Premier Tech
Photo credit:© Israel-Premier Tech; Words by Simone Gambino

Australian Simon Clarke (Israel Premier Tech) won the fifth stage of the 109th Tour de France, the cobbled stage, which travelled from Lille to Arenberg along 157 kilometres, including 11 sections on stones totalling almost 20 kilometres. Second place went to Dutchman Taco van der Horn (Intermarchè Wanty Gobert) who finished ahead of Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) and American Neilson Powless (EF Education Easy Post). In a surprising manner, considering the course of the day, Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) retained the yellow jersey. The Belgian champion is now 13s ahead of Powless in the general classification and 14s ahead of Boasson Hagen, with Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) dropping back to fourth place, but only 19s behind. At the start, there was the usual flurry of attacks and counter-attacks, which materialised after 20 kilometres with a sextet in the lead: Magnus Cort and Neilson Powless (EF Education EasyPost), Taco Van der Hoorn (Intermarché Wanty Gobert), Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies), Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) and Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels – KTM). The escapees took a lead of three minutes. With 96 kilometres to go the yellow jersey fell, caught in a high-speed corner with team-mate Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo Visma). Accomplice to a slowdown of the peloton and with the help of Kruijswijk himself, Van Aert was able to come back. Meanwhile, the advantage of the attackers increased to four minutes as they approached the first cobbled section. Under the action of Bora Hansgrohe and a very vigilant Pogacar, the peloton accelerated. With 50 kilometres to go Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen) punctured. For the Australian, fourth in Paris last year, it was the start of an ordeal that would see him lose more than four minutes. At minus 37 the already bad day for Jumbo Visma took on even darker hues when Jonas Vingegard punctured. The yellow jersey was immediately stopped to facilitate the recovery of the Dane, second behind Pogacar last year. For Jumbo Visma, however, the bad luck was far from over. With 35 kilometres to go, as they exited a roundabout, 25 fell: among them, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma). Pogacar, smelling blood, realised it was a good time to attack. He found a valuable ally in Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo). It was the winner of the Milano – Sanremo 2021 who imposed the forcing at the -19km on the cobbled section of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes à Sars-et-Rosières, followed only by Pogacar. The two were soon in agreement, creating a sui generis edition of the Trofeo Baracchi and bringing themselves within 35 seconds of the outriders. Jumbo Visma divided their forces to limit the damage to their captains. However, while, thanks to Van Aert and Laporte, Vingegard did not drift away, Roglic, with whom Kruijswijk and Van Hooydonck remained, lost heavily. The Pogacar – Stuyven duo failed to catch up with the outriders, who had dropped from six to four due to the failures of Cort Nielsen and Gougeard. Van Aert’s action had the desired effect to the point that with five kilometres to go, a hypothesis that until then had been considered impossible took shape: the retention of the yellow jersey. The sprint for the day’s success, between four exhausted riders, saw the experienced Australian Clarke prevail over his breakaway companions who had all sprinted too early. Pogacar arrived with Stuyven at 51 seconds, gaining just 13 seconds on Van Aert and Vingegard. It was, however, the more than two minutes inflicted on compatriot Roglic that gave the winner of the last two editions of the Grande Boucle cause for satisfaction. Full Results here

KMTo goTypeKeypoint
S37.2119.8SprintMérignies
1179.777.3cobbles***Fressain à Villers-au-Tertre (1400m)
10100.656.4cobbles**Eswars à Paillencourt (1600m)
9106.550.5cobbles***Wasnes-au Bac à Marcq-en-Ostrevent (1400m)
8110.946.1cobbles***Émerchicourt à Monchécourt (1600m)
7114.142.9cobbles***Monchécourt à Émerchicourt (1300m)
6119.637.4cobbles**Abscon (1500m)
5126.730.3cobbles****Erre à Wandignies-Hamage (2800m)
4133.423.6cobbles***Warlaing à Brillon (2400m)
3136.920.1cobbles****Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes à Sars-et-Rosières (2400m)
2143.413.6cobbles***Bousignies à Millonfosse (1400m)
1150.36.7cobbles***Hasnon à Wallers (1600m)

After the Flemish appetizer of the day before, the Tour meets the stones of Paris-Roubaix on a massive scale: no less than 19.4 km of cobblestones, only in 2018 had there been more, divided into 11 sectors, all concentrated in the last 77 km (the sectors, as is the case at the Paris-Roubaix, are numbered in descending order). Without bothering to list them all, it is important to emphasise that the juiciest part is concentrated in the finale, with sectors 5 to 3 being the longest (all more than 2km) and most demanding; they are also the closest sectors: from the start of sector 5 (30.3km from the finish) there are 10.6km of cobblestones in just 25.2km. The last sector ends just 5.1 km from the finish. After the extraordinary show of 2014, the pavé never provided much excitement (except for a few crashes), probably because everyone got used to the idea of finding it at the Tour. However, after seeing Pogacar lead the way at the Tour of Flanders, we all hope in our hearts that something big will come up. Bookmakers favourites: M Van Der Poel 3, W Van Aert 5, M Pedersen 9, M Mohoric 13, F Senechal 13 , P Sagan 18, Y Lampaert 18.

Thu 7 July – Stage 6: BINCHE>LONGWY 219.9km. Elevation gain 2420m

Pogacar takes the yellow jersey after winning Tour de France’s longest stage

Tadej Pogacar vince la memorabile tappa di Longwy © UAE Team Emirates-SprintCycling
Photo Credit:  © UAE Team Emirates-SprintCycling; Words by Simone Gambino

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) won the sixth stage of the 109th Tour de France, this year’s longest stage with its 220 kilometres from Binche to Longwy, which also included a crossing into Belgium. The champion from Komenda took victory on the final climb with a sprint that will have reminded the his mentor, Giuseppe Saronni, 40 years ago at Goodwood on the day he took the rainbow jersey. In second place came Australian Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), ahead of Frenchman David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ). Pogacar thus took the yellow jersey. In the general classification, he was 4 seconds ahead of American Neilson Powless (EF Education Easy Post) with Dane Jonas Vingegard (Jumbo Visma) third at 31 seconds. After yesterday’s Paris-Roubaix look-like, today we witnessed a very fast start, with the 51 kilometres covered in the first hour of the race. In this explosive context, a decidedly unusual situation developed at the front with a trio formed by yellow jersey Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) in the company of Dane Jakub Fuglsang (Israel Premier Tech) and American Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo). The trio reached a maximum advantage of four minutes at the halfway point. Behind, taking up the chase, were four teams: Bora Hansgrohe, EF Education Easy Post, Ineos Grenadiers and, of course, UAE Team Emirates. Gradually, thanks to the work of these formations, the gap began to narrow. At minus 70, only two minutes remained for the three escapees. With 65 kilometres to go Fuglsang stopped for a physiological need and then decided to wait for the peloton. Van Aert, at this point, put even more energy into the action, thus keeping the gap stable at around two minutes for almost 30 kilometres. At minus 30, however, Simmons gave way. The Flemish rider continued alone, but his fate was now sealed. The yellow jersey was taken back with 11,000 metres to go, allowing himself to be pulled away and thus abdicating his sceptre. At minus 10, the inevitable crash of the day took place. The only one involved among the favourites was the Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora Hansgrohe), who, however, with the help of his team mates managed to rejoin the group. On the Cote de Pulventeux with six kilometres to go, the Frenchman Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) took off. He was pursued by Tadej Pogacar, whose sprint shattered the peloton. The transalpine’s action came to an end two kilometres from the finish, just as the Cote de Religieuses began, the last climb of the day, at the top of which the finish banner was placed. Pogacar lined up the UAE in front with Majka and McNulty imposing a hellish pace. Attempting to rebel against this hegemony was Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) who set off at the 500-metre mark, effectively launching the sprint to his eternal rival. Pogacar leapt over Roglic with a sprint, literally making a vacuum behind him to the point where he had the luxury of standing up to celebrate in the final metres.

The longest stage of the Tour de France 2022 will start in Binche, Belgium and after yesterday stones it is time for a stage with an Ardennes flavour. A day which concentrates its excitement in the very last kilometres with an intriguing finale in which the more explosive riders can pick up a few seconds by taking advantage of the bonuses at the finish. Of the 219.9 km in total, the first 69 run entirely on Belgian soil, before entering France. Shortly after crossing the French border, the riders will face the first asperity classified as a third-category GPM, the Côte de Mazures (2 km at 7.6%), set after 87.2 km. The peloton will continue for some forty kilometres, mostly flat, including the Sprint finish at Carignan, before entering the final sixty kilometres again characterised by ups and downs.The most intriguing part of the race begins 16.5km from the finish, climbing the simple Côte de Montigny-sur-Chiers (1.6km at 4.4%), followed by a rather uneven climb of 2.3km at 4.2% to Lexy, at which point a mere 3km of descending and flat terrain brings the riders to the foot of the key point of the stage, the 800m wall towards Pulventeux at 12.3%.

At the summit, there are just 5.3 km to go, but it’s not over yet: after 1 km flat and 2 km downhill, the road climbs again on the Côte des Religieuses; formally, there are the last 1600 metres at 5.8% (max 11%), corresponding to the finish already seen in 2017. Undoubtedly these four climbs placed in sequence in the very last kilometres will stir something up. Bookmakers Favourites: W Van Aert 4, T Pogacar 8, M Mohoric 11, M Van Der Poel 18, D Teuns 20, M Matthews 22, A Bettiol 25, T Pidcock 25.

Fri 8 July – Stage 7: TOMBLAINE>LA SUPER PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES 176.3km. Elevation gain 2480m

Pogačar wins the stage to extend lead to 35 seconds. Kämna caught less then 200m from finish.

Tadej Pogacar batte Jonas Vingegaard a La Super Planche des Belles Filles © UAE Team Emirates-SprintCycling
Credit Photo: © UAE Team Emirates-SprintCycling; Words by Simone Gambino

Yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) won the seventh stage of the 109th Tour de France, the eagerly awaited 176-kilometre stage that led from Tomblaine up to the 1,140-metre Super Planche des Belles Filles, the very spot where the consecration of the Klanec star took place on 19 September 2020. On the finish line at the end of a cruel uphill climb, the Slovenian mocked the Dane Jonas Vingegard (Jumbo Visma), who had started 150 metres from the finish and looked like he could prevail, only to be overtaken by Pogacar in the last 10 metres. In third place came a re-borned Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma), 12 seconds behind. Tadej strengthened his lead in the general classification. Vingegard, who moved up to second, followed him at 35″ with 2018 Grande Boucle winner, Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), third at 1’10”. After some 40 kilometres a breakaway of ten riders took off: Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates), Maximilian Schachmann and Lennard Kämna (Bora Hansgrohe), Kasper Asgreen (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl), Imanol Erviti (Team Movistar), Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange), Giulio Ciccone and Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) and Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels – KTM). With less than 100 minutes to go the advantage of the escapees exceeded two minutes, handing Schachmann the virtual yellow jersey. Pogacar, at this point, stopped Stake Laengen. Former world champion Pedersen, meanwhile, won the intermediate sprint which awarded points for the green jersey. Ahead of the first GPM of the day, the Col de la Grosse Pierre (3.1km at 6.2%), the Bora Hansgrohe duo forced the pace, taking Durbridge with them. Geschke and Teuns, the 2019 winner on the Super Planche, also joined the trio. Asgreen, Pedersen and Ciccone, who had won the yellow jersey on the stage won by the Bahrain rider three years ago, gave up. Just before the start of the second climb, the Col des Croix (3.3 km at 5.5%), Barthe and Erviti also caught up the race leaders. A leading septet was formed, and from behind, the UAE was not pulling too hard, with the result that at the GPM the group’s delay on the escapees had increased to 2’40”. On the descent, Jumbo Visma, Ineos Grenadiers and Bahrain Victorious began to support the Emiratis. This reduced the advantage of the outriders, who appeared at the start of the final climb (7km at 8.7%) with only a minute and a half to spare. Pogacar took control of the race, setting the pace with, in order, McNulty, Bennett and, finally, Majka. Up front the attackers were breaking up. Geschke took off first, but was swallowed up in the space of a kilometre by Kamna, who sprinted towards the finish. At the passage in front of the old finishing line, 1,400 metres from today’s, the rider still had 40 seconds on the increasingly small group of the best. Majka dropped back at 800 metres, leaving the yellow jersey to finish the job. In a progression, never sprinting, Pogacar made further selection, bringing Kamna back within striking distance. Vingegard’s sprint put an end to the German’s hopes of victory. Pogacar, after five seconds of hesitation, set off in pursuit of the Dane, overtaking him just a few metres from the finish and then giving him an irreverent look. Vingegard, having crossed the finish line, stopped, collapsing exhausted in the arms of one of his team members, who had come to his rescue. Full results here

Tomorrow is the eighth stage. It will be 186 kilometres of ups and downs that will take the yellow caravan from Dole to Lausanne, in Swiss territory. There will not be a metre of flat although the climbs will all be pedalable. Logic would have it that, after three fiery stages, the big boys would take a rest day, leaving space for a breakaway. Logic, however, does not belong to the Tour de France 2022.

The stage will start from Tomblaine, near Nancy, and head south. After 70 more than easy kilometres, the road will begin to climb slightly towards Gérardmer, site of the bonus Sprint, and then to the first GPM of the day, the Col de Grosse Pierre (3rd cat., 3.1 km at 6.4%). After another 20km there will be a brief climb again towards the Col du Ménil and then the Col des Croix (3rd cat., 3.2 km at 6.3%). A further 27km and the peloton will reach the Col de la Chevestraye and after a short descent will leads directly to the first uphill finish which, as almost always in recent years, will be La Planche des Belles Filles.

The final ascent to La Super Planche des Belles Filles (1st cat., 7 km at 8.7%) is a very difficult climb, with gradients rarely below 9% and peaks of 24% in the final kilometre. The climb is a little more gentle after about 4.7km and then surged ahead with a first 20% ramp about 1200 metres from the finish, followed shortly afterwards by the last terrible gravel km that touched 24% gradient up to the finish. Bookmakers Favourites: T Pogacar 2, J Vingegaard 12, M Woods 12, T Pinot 14, R Guerreiro 16, D Teuns 16, B O’Connor 18, A Vlasov 18.

Sat 9 July – Stage 8: DOLE>LAUSANNE 186.3km. Elevation gain 2462m

Wout van Aert wins Lausanne Swiss stage, Tadej Pogacar extends lead

Wout Van Aert vince a Losanna su Michael Matthews e Tadej Pogacar © Team BikeExchange-Jayco - Getty Images Sport
Photo Credit: © Team BikeExchange-Jayco – Getty Images Sport, Words by Simone Gambino

The green jersey Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) won the eighth stage of the 109th Tour de France, which took the yellow caravan from Dole in Burgundy to Lausanne in Switzerland, through 186 kilometres of continuous, though not too demanding, ups and downs. The Flemish rider thus repeated the success of the fourth stage in Calais, preceding Australian Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) on the final climb, with yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) in third place. The bonus gained by Pogacar stretched the general classification slightly, with the Slovenian increasing his lead over Dane Jonas Vingegard (Jumbo Visma) to 39″ and Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) third at 1’14”. At the start, an attacking trio was formed consisting of Italian Mattia Cattaneo (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl), Englishman Alfred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) and Belgian Federic Frison (Lotto Soudal). The presence among the attackers of the Italian rider, who was only three minutes behind the yellow jersey in the general classification, limited the breakaway’s chances of success. The trio was kept in a bain-marie by the peloton, which never allowed the escapees much space. At minus 50 Frison gave way. Cattaneo and Wright, however, continued undeterred in their action. With 8,000 metres to go it was the Italian who raised the white flag, with the peloton pressing on at just half a minute. Wright was the last to surrender with three kilometres to go. Under the action of the UAE men, eager to lead Pogacar to the hat-trick, it came down to the epilogue. The yellow jersey started at 300 metres, being jumped first by Matthews and then by the bursting sprint of Van Aert, who thus went on to win the stage. Full Results here

Tomorrow will be the ninth act of this edition of the Grande Boucle. There will be 193 kilometres to cover from Aigle, where the start will be from the UCI headquarters, to Chatel Les Portes du Soleil. It will be a soft approach to the alpine difficulties that will await the riders in the following days. There are two GPMs, both first category, that the riders will encounter in the final part of the stage: the Col del la Croix at minus 70 and the Pas de Morgins, when there are only 25 kilometres to go.

This stage seems to be designed for an almost certain arrival of the breakaway. In any case, the stage is by no means trivial, especially because of the demanding finish at the Olympic stadium in Lausanne. The stage starts in Dole, a town in the Jura department, from where the peloton heads south-west for the first 30 kilometres, which are flat. It then begins to climb slightly towards the day’s bonus Sprint at Montrod, 46.9 km from the start, after which there is a quieter section before climbing again for around ten kilometres. The first GPM, classified in the fourth category, will be the Côte du Maréchet (2 km at 5.7%), which the riders will face after 75.6 km from the start, after which there will be a short descent, followed by the unclassified climb of the Col de Savine. After a five-kilometre descent towards Morez, the riders will then tackle the Côte des Rousses (6.7 km at 5%), followed by a 30 km long stretch at altitude to cross the Swiss border, leading to the foot of the Col de Pétra Félix (2.4 km at 1.5%), the penultimate GPM of the stage. From the summit there will be 50 kilometres to go, the first 30 downhill and the next 15 flat, which will bring the peloton to the start of the final climb Côte du Stade Olympique.

It is the second uphill finish of this Tour: it is 4.8 km at 4.6%, but distorted by a downhill section; the road climbs without tremendous ramps for a couple of km, then descends slightly and then climbs for a km in double figures; the road flattens out again near the ‘flamme rouge’, remaining slightly uphill until the finish. Another explosive finish where someone could loose precious time in the general classification. Bookmakers Favourites: W Van Aert 4, M Mohoric 12, T Pogacar 12, M Matthews 12, M Van Der Poel 16, A Bettiol 20, T Pidcock 21, D Teuns 22, B Mollema 22.

Sun 10 July – Stage 9: AIGLE>CHÂTEL LES PORTES DU SOLEIL 192.9km. Elevation gain 3600m

Jungels super win after a long solo break. Pogacar still in yellow.

Bob Jungels primo a Châtel
Photo credit: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

Luxembourger Bob Jungels (AG2R Citroen) won the ninth stage of the 109th Tour de France along the 193 kilometres from Aigle in Switzerland to Chatel Les Portes du Soleil in Haute-Savoie. The winner of the 2018 Liège-Bastogne-Liège won with full merit this stage, an authentic appetizer of the future Alpine stages that will follow the rest day scheduled for tomorrow. In second place was Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers) with a 22-second gap, ahead of compatriot Carlos Verona (Team Movistar), who finished third at 26 seconds. The yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) managed to extend, albeit only symbolically, his lead in the GC with a sprint in the finale with only Danish rider Jonas Vingegard (Jumbo Visma) capable to resist. Therefore, the gap between the two in the classification remains 35 seconds, with Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) still third, now 1’17” behind. As usual, the start of the stage was very fast and finally, after 50 kilometres the race was on its traditional track with the breakaway of the day with 21 riders: Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Bob Jungels and Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroen), Patrick Konrad and Nils Politt (Bora Hansgrohe), Thibault Pinot (Groupama FDJ), Carlos Verona (Team Movistar), Simon Geschke and Ion Izagirre (Cofidis), Luis Leon Sanchez (Bahrain Victorious), Kobe Goossens (Intermarché Wanty Gobert), Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education Easy Post), Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa Samsic), Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo), Guy Niv and Hugo Houle (Israel Premier Tech), Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels KTM), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), green jersey Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) and the American Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates). The presence in the breakaway of Uran, 16th in the standings at 3’24” from Pogacar at the start from Aigle, did not seem to cause the Emirates team any particular concern. The advantage of the escapees settled at around three minutes. The attackers climbed the Col de Mosses, the first asperity of the day, on which Latour crossed first, then the Col de la Croix, at – 60km from the finish, where Jungels and Geschke set off. Geschke won the GPM, conquering the red polka-dot jersey, and soon slowing down leaving Jungels alone in the lead. The Luxembourger quickly gained a minute while from behind the yellow jersey group began to catch up. Meanwhile in the back of the peloton there was drama for his team-mate Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen), fourth in Paris last year, who was completely adrift. At the start of the final climb, the Pas des Morgins, with 25 kilometres to go, Jungels’ lead over his immediate followers had grown to two minutes with the yellow jersey group at 3’20”. Halfway up the long, 15-kilometre climb, Daniel Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers) lost contact with the front group just as Thibaut Pinot (Groupama FDJ) was pursuing Jungels. Initially, the French climber’s action seemed to have a real chance to succeed and indeed, with 2,000 metres to go to the GPM, the advantage of the Luxembourger was reduced to half a minute. Unfortunately for Pinot, the final two kilometres of the climb, which were decidedly gentler, allowed Jungels to maintain the gap, launching himself towards victory. From behind, meanwhile, Castroviejo and Verona emerged and in perfect harmony, bringing themselves up behind Pinot. It was done for Jungels, who returned to victory after more than three years, with Pinot, who in the last kilometre, was swallowed up by the two Spaniards, even finishing fourth. Today Guilliame Martin (following a positive Covid-19 test), Ruben Guerreiro and Kasper Asgreen retired from the race. Full Results here

The first week of racing closes with the first real mountain stage of this Tour, the only one of this edition to feature a high mileage. It is also well-designed, with many climbs spread out over the entire route, a long ascent near the finish, then a descent and then up again. Most of the 192.9 kilometres of this stage will take place in Switzerland. The first 33 kilometres after the start in Aigle will be flat before the peloton tackles the first climb of the day, the Côte de Bellevue (4.3 km at 4%). After the GPM the road continues slight uphill up to the bonus Sprint in Semsales. After the first 100km ed in rapid succession: Col des Mosses (13.3 km at 4.1%, divided into three 6/7% gradients by a few falsopian sections), Col de la Croix (8.1 km at 7.6%, almost constantly between 8% and 9%) and Pas de Morgins (15.4 km at 6.1%, with the first 11.5 km at 7.2%).

There are only 9.8 km to go to the summit of the latter, with the first 5.6 almost all downhill and the remaining 4.2 again slightly uphill (average 4.4%) to Pré de la Joux. There is a section at 7/8% from -2 to the last kilometre, followed by a breather before the last 500 metres again uphill. Bookmakers Favourites: L Kamna 6, T Pogacar 6, R Guerreiro 14, M Woods 14, J Fuglsang 14, M Storer 20, W Van Aert 22, J Vingegaard 22, I Izagirre 25, A Lutsenko 25, B Mollema 25, T Pinot 25.

Mon 11 July – Rest day

Injured Ben O’Connor will not race tomorrow, but the season is not over and the next objective will be the Vuelta. Also Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) will not be at the start tomorrow morning.

Tue 12 July – Stage 10: MORZINE LES PORTES DU SOLEIL>MEGÈVE 148.1km. Elevation gain 2591m

Magnus Cort Nielsen claims Tour de France 10th stage victory in photo finish. Kamna now second in GC.

Magnus Cort Nielsen batte Nick Schultz a Megève
Photo credit: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

Danish rider Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Easy Post) won the tenth stage of the 109th Tour de France, a 148-kilometre alpine prelude that took the riders from Morzine to Megeve. Cort prevailed, thanks to a comeback sprint, over Australian Nick Schultz (BikeExchange Jayco) with Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez (Bahrain Victorious) in third at seven seconds. The Murcian, along with German Lennard Kamna (Bora Hansgrohe), was one of the two big beneficiaries of today’s stage in terms of advancing in the general classification, moving up to tenth place at 1’50 from the yellow jersey. Little thing, this, compared to the German, for a long time virtual yellow jersey, who now occupies second place in the general classification just 11″ behind Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). Jonas Vingegard (Jumbo Visma), now third, retains the 39-second disadvantage from the Slovenian champion. The day was characterised by a series of events away from the competition. Before the start, George Bennett (UAE Team Emirates) and Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange Jayco) were reported to have withdrawn for Covid positives. The withdrawal of the New Zealander, in particular, is a potentially devastating loss for the yellow jersey, deprived of a trusted domestique. Things could have been even worse for Pogacar as Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) also tested positive. The Polish climber, however, was allowed to stay in the race as he was asymptomatic and had a low viral load, just as Luxembourger Bob Jungels (AG2R Citroen), then winner of the ninth stage last Sunday, did at the start in Copenhagen. The day’s attack only succeeded after 60 kilometres with 25 riders: Christophe Laporte (Jumbo Visma), Filippo Ganna and Dylan Van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Lennard Kämna (Bora Hansgrohe), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar Team), Ion Izagirre and Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), Luis Leon Sanchez and Alfred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin Deceuninck), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché Wanty Gobert), Simone Velasco (Astana Qazaqstan), Alberto Bettiol and Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education EasyPost), Hugo Hofstetter and Connor Swift (Arkéa Samsic), Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal), Mads Pedersen and Quinn Simmons (Trek Segafredo), Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies), Simon Clarke (Israel Premier Tech), Jack Bauer and Nick Schultz (BikeExchange Jayco) and Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels KTM). The UAE was disinterested in the breakaway, which quickly built up a sizeable lead, bringing Kamna, who started this morning from Morzine in 21st position at 8’43” from Pogacar, into the yellow jersey fold. With 42 kilometres to go, Bettiol set off and quickly gained 30 seconds. What interrupted the action of the winner of the 2019 Tour of Flanders, at minus 36, was not the reaction of his former breakaway companions but the protest of a group of environmentalists, who wanted to raise awareness about climate change, who blocked the road, preventing the riders from passing. The race was neutralised, restarting after about ten minutes. The cyclist from Castel Fiorentino continued his attempt, also thanks to the disagreement behind him, but he was caught with 10,000 metres to go. At this point, attacks followed one after the other, sterile and unsuccessful, until the final straight, when Cort Nielsen, with a powerful recovery action, managed to overcome Schultz. The group of the best arrived at 8’53”, allowing Pogacar to save the yellow jersey that he might have preferred to lose. Full Results here

After the rest day, the real alpine triptych opens with a stage that makes sweeping laps through the mountains, avoiding any climb worthy of note. After the downhill start from Morzine, the riders will find the first GPM after 24.1 kilometres. The gradients of the Côte de Chevenoz (2.2 kilometres at 2.9%) are by no means prohibitive but could still be enough to form the day’s breakaway. They will then descend towards the French shore of Lake Geneva before heading south after passing through Thonon-les-Bains. The riders then tackle other easy climbs: the Col de Jambaz (6.7km at 3.8%), a third category GPM after 69.2km and the Côte de Châtillon-sur-Cluses (4.5km at 3.9%). After the subsequent descent there will be a long stretch of 25 kilometres of flat terrain with the bonus Sprint at Passy-Marlioz.

Three kilometres later, the long final ascent will begin, leading to the finish in Megève. Altogether it climbs 21.4km at 4.1%, with three ramps at 7.5% in the last 7.5km, the most challenging part. Officially the GPM of Montée de l’altiport (19.2 kilometres at 41.%) is placed not on the finish line, but 2.2 km before it. But then also the finale will be uphill with the last 500 metres at 7.1%. Bookmakers Favourites: L Kamna 6, T Pogacar 7, W Van Aert 10, T Pinot 17, A Kron 18, A Bettiol 20, D Teuns 20, J Fuglsang 20.

Wed 13 July – Stage 11: ALBERTVILLE>COL DU GRANON SERRE CHEVALIER 151.7km. Elevation gain 3969m

Vingegaard coup, Pogacar overthrown.

Unforgettable battle in the first alpine stage of the Tour 2022: the Jumbo-Visma puts Tadej in the middle from Télégraphe, on the Galibier the clash is epic, on the Granon Jonas flies to victory and snatches the yellow jersey from his rival

Incredibile Jonas Vingegaard, vola sul Granon e ribalta Tadej Pogacar © Team Jumbo-Visma
Image Credit: © Team Jumbo-Visma; Words by Simone Gambino

Danish rider Jonas Vingegard (Jumbo Visma) solo won the 11th stage of the 109th Tour de France, the 151-kilometre alpine ride from Albertville to the 2,413-metre Col du Granon. In second place, 59 seconds behind, came, surprisingly, the Colombian Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic) who preceded the French Romain Bardet (Team DSM), third at 1’10”. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), who experienced his blackest day in the two and a half Tours de France he has competed in so far, finished only seventh, 2’51” behind the winner, to whom he also gave up the yellow jersey. Vingegard now leads the general classification with a 2’16 advantage over the excellent Bardet with the Klanec champion slipping to third at 2’22. The Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), fourth at 2’26”, and the rediscovered Quintana, fifth at 2’37, are also in the rankings. Although there was the usual script characterised by the inevitable breakaway of the day, which had as its great and unfortunate protagonist the Frenchman Warren Barguil (Arkea Samsic), who passed first at the 2,642 metres of the Col du Galibier, thus winning the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, the story of today’s stage is concentrated in the last 4,500 metres, from the moment when Vingegard threw down the gauntlet to Pogacar. Weakened by the constant sprints, which for more than 50 kilometres he had had to produce in order to counter the repeated attacks of the Jumbo Visma team, the 23-year-old Slovenian showed today that, tactically, he still has much to learn. Perhaps letting go of compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma), who had sprinted repeatedly in the middle of the stage but was almost three minutes behind in the general classification, would have allowed him to stay on the mark on his direct Danish rival, conserving precious energy for the race finale. Vingegard’s sprint had the same effect as the eruption of a volcano, with all the other GC men leaving the yellow jersey behind one by one in the space of a kilometre. Three minutes lost in four and a half kilometres, however, does not constitute a total surrender on the part of Pogacar. In that sense, Jumbo Visma may be wondering whether today’s attack was too late, having thwarted the chance to carve an even bigger gap in the rankings. Tadej, for his part, is young; tomorrow we’ll know more about his recovery qualities, although looking at today’s finish, it might be advisable for him to postpone his revenge intentions until next week in the Pyrenees, hoping that in the meantime Bardet or Thomas will go on the attack, forcing the yellow and black team to work to defend their newly won symbol of command. Full results here

An authentic alpine big stage, from Albertville to the 2,413-metre of the hard Col du Granon above Serre Chevalier. Along the 151 kilometres of the route, the cyclists will encounter, before the final ascent, the Lacets de Montvernier followed by the Col du Telegraphe and the legendary Col du Galibier, which at 2,642 metres will be the highest point of this Grande Boucle (the Souvenir Henri Desgrange) . After 46 flat kilometres, with the bonus Sprint at Aiguebelle after 16.5 km, the scenic (and challenging) Lacets of Montvernier (3.4 km at 8.3%). After the descent and a short climb into the centre of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, the race continues with 14 km of valley floor until the northern slope of the Galibier. The long ascent (35 km) is split in two by the Col du Tèlégraphe, which occupies the first 11.9 km at 7.1%, with gradients of between 8% and 9% in the first part. A short, pedalable descent leads to Valloire, where the climb starts again for the next 18 km at 6.9% with the final stretch of 8 km at 8.3%.

The Galibier is traditionally one of the sacred monsters of the Tour, and one of those climbs that take you by surprise and are perfect for attacking from a distance. Of course, being followed by the equally tough Granon, and being the first real bogeyman of this Tour, we are unlikely to see any long-distance movements. The fact remains that such an ascent will be felt on the final climb, which begins 34km further on.

The final 11.3 km at 9.2% are undoubtedly perfect for digging out important gaps, leaving the captains more or less alone against themselves. It should be pointed out that 4 kilometres are above 2000 metres in altitude and the last six kilometres will be the most demanding, with gradients often in double figures. The final total elevation gain is over 3500 metres, accumulated in just over 100 kilometres. Bookmakers Favourites: T Pogacar 2, J Vingegaard 3, T Pinot 8, P Roglic 16, J Fuglsang 18, C Verona 20, M Storer 22, N Quintana 22, E Mas Nicolau 25.

Thu 14 July – Stage 12: BRIANÇON>ALPE D’HUEZ 165.1km. Elevation gain 4629m

Pogacar is still alive, Vingegaard is warned

Tadej on the attack on the Alpe d’Huez, Jonas replied blow by blow, the Tour de France show continued. Stage victory for Tom Pidcock over Louis Meintjes, and in third place a comeback: Chris Froome!

Thomas Pidcock vince all'Alpe d'Huez © INEOS Grenadiers-Getty Images Sport
Photo Credit: © INEOS Grenadiers-Getty Images Sport; Words by Simone Gambino

Britain’s Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) won by a breakaway on stage 12 of the 109th Tour de France, the final alpine stage, which took the yellow caravan from Briançon to Alpe d’Huez on the 70th anniversary of the first finish on this legendary climb, which Fausto Coppi was christened. The Olympic mountain bike champion was 48″ ahead of South African Louis Meintjes (Intermarchè Wanty Gobert) with a moving Chris Froome (Israel Premier Tech) taking third at 2’06”. The peloton of yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma), which also included white jersey Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), was 3:23″ back. The same three riders occupy the top three positions in the general classification with the Dane retaining 2’22” on the Slovenian champion and 2’26” on the 2018 Tour de France winner Thomas. Dropping to fourth in the ranking, at 2’35”, is Romain Bardet (Team DSM), who lost 19″ in the final kilometres of the climb. The final act of this alpine stage of the Grande Boucle was characterised by an attack on the climb of the Galibier, which was taken in the opposite direction to yesterday, by the following seven riders: Louis Meintjes and Kobe Goossens (Intermarché Wanty Gobert), Giulio Ciccone (Trek Segafredo), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Nelson Oliveira (Team Movistar), Neilson Powless (EF Education Easy Post) and Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels KTM). On the subsequent descent, Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Chris Froome (Israel Premier Tech) caught up with the escapees, bringing the number of men in the lead up to nine. Jumbo Visma kept the breakaway at a safe distance, conceding a maximum advantage of seven minutes, but did not try hard to catch up. Passing first on the Col de la Croix de Fer, the second GPM of the day, Ciccone moved up to second place in the climbers’ classification behind German Simon Geschke (Cofidis), who had drifted clear today. At the end of the descent leading to the entrance of the final climb, five remained in the lead: Pidcock, Mentjes, Froome, Powless and Ciccone. They were the ones to battle it out for the day’s success. Pidcock attacked with 11,000 metres to go. Powless and Ciccone collapsed as Mentjes and Froome tried, in vain, to resist the action of the 2020 Giro d’Italia Under-23 winner. Meanwhile at the back, under the bursting action of Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma), the peloton was five minutes behind the outriders. Mentjes seemed to be able to catch Pidcock but, having come within seven seconds of the Englishman, was unable to complete the rejoining operation. In the meantime, Jumbo Visma, having exhausted the action of Van Aert, used first Primoz Roglic and then Sepp Kuss to further skim the group of classification men. Pogacar showed that he had recovered from yesterday’s crisis, while Quintana, Bardet and Adam Yates gave way in order. At minus four Pogacar tried to surprise Vingegaard with a fierce sprint but the yellow jersey showed he had mastered the situation. Pidcock finished the stage triumphantly, winning at the age of 23 the first of what could be many successes on the roads of the Tour. Full Results here

Tomorrow it will be the turn of stage 13, which will travel 193 kilometres from Le Bourg d’Oisans to Saint Etienne. With three GPMs, albeit of low category, scattered along the route, there will be fertile ground for those who, as a radio commentator friend of mine likes to say, will have the ambition and courage to attack.

With today’s stage, the Tour de France 2022 has rounded the halfway mark. There will be 165 kilometres that will lead from Briançon to the legendary Alpe d’Huez, climbed for the first time 70 years ago with the triumph of Fausto Coppi who, in that now distant edition, killed the French race already at the end of the first week, forcing the organisers to create a special prize for the second classified to keep the interest of the fans alive. At the start, the riders will encounter the Galibier, which will be tackled in the opposite direction of yesterday, 23 km long and with an average of 5.1%; the most demanding section arrives after the Lautaret (2040 metres altitude), with the last 8.5 km having an average of 6.9% and the last km at 9%. This is followed by the long and technical descent first into Valloire, then (after the ascent to the Col du Telegraphe) into St. Jean de Maurienne, at the foot of the second ascent of the day: the 29 km at 5.2% of the Col de la Croix de Fer.

The climb is famously broken into three sections, all with double-digit sections: starting with 3.5km at 8.5%, followed by 2.5km downhill, then the steepest section of over 5km at 9%; this is followed by the easiest part of the climb, with 2km flat, 1. 5 km of slight descent and 7 km at 4%; finally begins the most challenging section, 6.7 km at 8.3%. Also irregular is the long descent that features two counter-slope sections, followed by the almost perfectly flat 16 km to the foot of the final totem: the 13.8 km at 8.1% at Alpe d’Huez, tackled for the 31st time in the history of the Tour.

This legendary climb, famous for its 21 hairpin bends, will immediately offer gradients of over 10% in the first 2,000 metres, dropping to 8-9% in the next six kilometres. After an easier section at 6.5%, the last 5,000 metres will open with a kilometre at 11.5%, the toughest point of the climb then the last 3 km at around 5%. The Alpe d’Huez is a true open-air cycling stadium where unforgettable pages of cycling history have been written. Another stage of great charm, both for the blazon of the climbs and for the almost flawless design: two hills over 2000 (Galibier and Croix de Fer), anticipate the final ascent to Alpe d’Huez, accumulating a final difference in altitude of more then 4500 metres. Bookmakers Favourites: J Vingegaard 3, T Pogacar 4, T Pinot 5, J Fuglsang 16, R Bardet 21, M Woods 22, N Quintana 23, D Caruso 25

Fri 15 July – Stage 13: LE BOURG D’OISANS>SAINT-ÉTIENNE 192.6km. Elevation gain 1843m

Mads Pedersen stormed to victory on Stage 13 in a three-way sprint.

Mads Pedersen batte Fred Wright e Hugo Houle a Saint-Étienne
Photo Credit: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

Denmark’s Mads Pedersen (Trek – Segafredo) emphatically won the 13th stage of the 109th Tour de France, which took the yellow caravan along 193 kilometres of ups and downs from Le Bourg d’Oisans, at the foot of the Alpe d’Huez, to Saint Etienne, on the banks of a still baby Loire. The 2019 Harrogate world champion sprinted clear ahead of his two breakaway companions, in order, Englishman Alfred Wright (Bahrain – Victorious) and Canadian Hugo Houle (Israel – Premier Tech). With the group of the best ones arrived at 5’45” from the winner, the general classification remains unchanged with another Danish, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma), in yellow jersey with an advantage of 2’22” on the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and of 2’26” on the Welsh Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers). After 60 kilometres of skirmishes a breakaway composed of the following seven riders took shape: Italian Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), American Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Alfred Wright (Bahrain – Victorious), Swiss Stefan Kung (Groupama – FDJ), Mads Pedersen and American Quinn Simmons (Trek – Segafredo) and Hugo Houle (Israel – Premier Tech). The presence of Ganna and Kung, two of the strongest time trial specialists in the peloton, made it clear that the peloton would have to work hard to catch the escapees. In fact, while the advantage initially never exceeded two minutes, it never fell below one and a half minutes. Deciding the fate of today’s stage was the Côte de Saint-Romain-en-Gal located 50 kilometres from the finish. Led by Simmons, along the six and a half kilometres with an average gradient of 4.7%, the escapees increased their lead to three and a half minutes. Immediately after the transit at the summit, the American, having exhausted his task, was dropped. With Lotto Soudal out of the running due to yet another crash by an unfortunate Caleb Ewan, only Bike Exchange Jayco attempted to catch the attackers, raising the white flag with 20 kilometres to go. Pedersen, however, the fastest in the event of a sprint finish, fearful of a solo by Ganna or Kung, broke away at minus 12 km. He was followed with difficulty by Wright and Houle, who were in danger of pulling away every time the Danish took the lead. The sprint was without history with the former world champion giving Denmark its third success in the last four days.

Tomorrow the race will continue towards the Pyrenees, which will be tackled from next Tuesday. The fourteenth stage will travel 193 kilometres from Saint – Etienne to Mende in the Massif Central, with a decidedly spectacular finale. Along the route the riders will find no less than four GPMs, as today not too demanding, which could, however, favour the emergence of a breakaway. The Cote de la Croix Neuve, with an average gradient of 10.2% and an average gradient of 10.2%, will decide the stage victory and any gaps between the men in the standings, with the summit only 1,500 metres from the finish line.

A stage which once again demonstrates the absurd pleasure the organisers take in reserving the highest mileage for transfer stages. The first 27 kilometres from the start in Le Borg d’Oisans will all be raced on a long descent until Vizille, where the first climb of the day is positioned: the Côte de Brié (2.4 kilometres at 6.9%). This short climb will be followed by a descent and a long, flat stretch of over 30 kilometres. At that point the peloton will encounter the most demanding altimetrical difficulty of the day: the Col de Parménie (5.1 km at 6.6%). Then 30 more kms and the riders will face the bonus sprint at La Côte-Saint-André. The course remains challenging right to the finish, with 44 kms to go the Côte de Saint-Romain-en-Gal, a 3rd Cat. GPM, of 6.6km at 4.5%, with the road climbing for another kilometre before descending and climbing further to the Col de la Croix Régis, crossed at 38.6km to go, and the Sorbiers climb of around 1.5km at 5%, less than 9km to go. Winds of up to 23 km/h expected in the middle phase and high temperatures at the start (33°C), easing in the end (28°C). Bookmakers Favourites: W Van Aert 5, J Philipsen 6, F Jakobsen 14, M Pedersen 14, M Cort Nielsen 18, D Groenewegen 18, M Matthews 21, A Bettiol 24, M Mohoric 25, C Ewan 25.

Sat 16 July – Stage 14: SAINT-ÉTIENNE>MENDE 192.5km. Elevation gain 3321m

Australian Michael Matthews takes stage after clashing with Alberto Bettiol, returning to victory at the Tour de France after 5 years.

Michael Matthews solo e felice al traguardo di Mende 2022
Credit Image: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

Australian Michael Matthews (BikeExchange Jayco) emphatically won the fourteenth stage of the 109th Tour de France, which led from Saint – Etienne to Mende in the heart of the Massif Central through 193 continuously undulating kilometres. The 2010 under-23 world champion was ahead, at the end of a thrilling duel, of Tuscan Alberto Bettiol (EF Easy Post), 15 seconds behind, with Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (Groupama FDJ) third at 32 seconds. The prolonged attack by Slovenian Tadej Pogacar on yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) on the final climb of the Cote de la Croix Neuve, which was only 1,500 metres from the finish line, caused no change in the distance between the two, with all the other contenders for the final success remaining behind. The Dane therefore still leads the general classification with 2’22” over the Slovenian, while the third placed Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) is now 2’43” behind. The breakaway of the day, in the maxi edition, materialised at the end of the first hour of racing. Making up the breakaway were the following 23 riders: Michael Matthews (BikeExchange Jayco), Luis Leon Sanchez (Bahrain Victorious), Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal), Stefan Kung and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama FDJ), Benoit Cosnefroy (Ag2r Citroen), Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels KTM), Marc Soler (Team UAE Emirates), Gregor Muhlberger (Team Movistar), Daniel Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers), Louis Meintjes (Intermarché Wanty Gobert), Bauke Mollema and Quinn Simmons (Trek Segafredo), Jakob Fuglsang, Michael Woods and Krists Neilands (Israel Premier Tech), Patrick Konrad, Felix Grossschartner and Lennard Kamna (Bora Hansgrohe), Rigoberto Uran, Alberto Bettiol and Neilson Powless (EF Easy Post) and Simon Geschke (Cofidis). In the complete disinterest of the peloton, the attackers immediately gained about ten minutes, allowing Mentjes, who started from Saint Etienne 13 minutes behind Vingegaard, to move up to seventh place in the general classification. With 45 kilometres to go, in what looked like a mad attempt, Matthews set off. His action shattered the leading group. After about ten kilometres, the Australian was joined by a trio of Austrian Grossschartner, Dane Kroon and Spanish veteran Sanchez, with whom he travelled with an advantage of between 30″ and 45″ over his former breakaway companions, to the minus 15km mark. A puncture by Kroon and the approach of the final climb, the dreaded Cote de la Croix Neuve, seemed to herald a regrouping at the head of the race. To avert this, Matthews sprinted again at the start of the final climb when there were only 5,000 metres to go. Grossschartner and Sanchez collapsed, but Bettiol came up from behind with a bursting action. The winner of the 2019 Tour of Flanders caught the champion from Canberra under the three-kilometre finishing line banner. Not satisfied with that, the rider from Castelfiorentino then attempted to go away solo. The Australian at first gave up about ten metres, but then, almost miraculously, overturned the situation in the final five hundred metres of the climb, breaking away from Bettiol in a definitive manner and thus appearing alone on the final straight to conquer his fourth partial victory in the Grande Boucle. Full Results here

Tomorrow will see the 15th stage, which will precede the third and final rest day scheduled for Monday. With the Pyrenees ever closer, the riders will pedal 202 kilometres from Rodez to the beautiful Carcassone, a Unesco World Heritage city with its imposing double walls. A year ago, it was here in the epicentre of the Cathar heresy that Mark Cavendish (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl) took his 34th stage victory, equalling Eddy Merckx at the top of this prestigious classification. Tomorrow’s nervous route, characterised by continuous ups and downs as in the last two stages, suggests that there is unlikely to be a similar sprint finish. So, here’s to another spectacular breakaway.

This is a stage that should not be underestimated, not only because of the usual arrival at the Mende airport located after the Montée Laurent Jalabert, but also because of the significant elevation gain over 190 km: more than 3,000 metres. After just seven kilometres from the start the riders will find the first climb of the day, the Côte de Saint-Just-Malmont, which with its 7.7 kilometres at 3.9% could already be decisive for the formation of a breakaway. Over the next fifty kilometres the road will continue to alternate between downhill and uphill stretches, with a few flat kilometres, where there will be space for the Côte de Châtaignier (2.6 kilometres at 7.3%) and the bonus Sprint at Yssingeaux. After passing through the town of Rosières, the peloton will encounter a short downhill section, followed by the only flat phase of the entire stage. Shortly after the 90th kilometre, in fact, the road will climb again for over 20 kilometres, until Le Bouchet-Saint-Nicolas where, however, no GPM is planned. A GPM which, however, the riders will find shortly afterwards: the Côte de Grandrieu (6.3 kilometres at 4.1%). In the following kilometres, the road will still go upwards toward the Côte de la Fage (4.2 km at 6%). The Côte de la Fage will be followed by a downhill of around 20km that terminates at the foot of the tough final climb (3 km at 10.2%).

The Côte de la Croix Neuve – Montée Jalabert is set 4 kilometres from the finish, a climb of only three kilometres, but with significant gradients: after the first kilometre at 8.3%, in fact, the next two will present an average gradient of almost 11%. The GPM will be placed near the red triangle of the last kilometre, which is almost completely flat. It is a finish which has never really shaken up the classification, but it could give important indications on conditions of the GC top contenders. Bookmakers Favourites: T Pogacar 6, D Teuns 12, L Kamna 12, M Woods 14, J Vingegaard 16, M Schachmann 18, T Pinot 18, V Madouas 22, M Mohoric 22, A Kron 22, W Van Aert 25.

Sun 17 July – Stage 15: RODEZ>CARCASSONNE 202.5km. Elevation gain 2492m

Philipsen wins the sprint, Vingegaard loses Roglic and Kruijswijk

Tutta la volata di Carcassonne in un'immagine: Jasper Philipsen batte Wout Van Aert, Mads Pedersen, Peter Sagan, Danny Van Poppel e Dylan Groenewegen

Flemish rider Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Deceuninck) won the 15th stage of the 109th Tour de France, which took the yellow peloton from Rodez to Carcassone over 202 kilometres under a blazing sun. The sprinter of Alpecin preceded, at the end of a hard-fought sprint, the green jersey Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) with the winner of the stage of Saint’Etienne, the former world Champion Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo), in third position. The general classification remains unchanged at the end of a dramatic day, the consequences of which Jumbo Visma could pay dearly in the Pyrenees. For the time being, however, Dane Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) retains the lead with an advantage of 2’22” over Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (Team UAE Emirates) and 2’43” over third-placed Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers). Even before the start came the news of three excellent retirements. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) threw in the towel, dealing a heavy blow to the yellow jersey, who will not be able to make use of his experience in the third week of racing. The champion from Trbovlje will now attempt to recover in order to try for a hat-trick at the Vuelta Espana, which starts on Friday 19 August from Utrecht in the Netherlands. The Covid positive also caused two previous stage winners Simon Clarke (Israel Premier Tech) and Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Easy Post) to drop out. At the start a trio made up of, Danish rider Mikkel Honoré (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team), German champion Nils Politt (Bora Hansgrohe) and the green jersey winner Wout Van Aert, who however, when back to the peloton after 40 kilometres, went on the attack. The two remaining riders, however, did not give up, gaining two and a half minutes on the main group. At minus 65 from the finish Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo Visma) crashed badly: probable fracture of the collarbone and, above all, immediate retirement for the Dutchman. In the blink of an eye, the yellow jersey team’s superiority over Pogacar’s team had evaporated. In deference to the saying there are no two without three, a few minutes later it was Vingegaard’s turn to finish on the asphalt, after he had a contact with team-mate Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo Visma). The yellow jersey rider quickly recovered and rejoined the peloton, while his giant domestique had problems, arriving 20 minutes late at the finish, his condition to be assessed on tomorrow’s rest day. Having meanwhile caught up with Honoré and Politt, it was the turn of two Frenchmen to try their luck with 40 kilometres to go: Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) and Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels – KTM). The duo held the peloton in check, never gaining more than 30 seconds, until 5,000 metres from the finish when Thomas attempted a solo move, which almost succeeded. In fact, the four-time track world champion was only caught up 400 metres from the finish line by the surging peloton. Philipsen showed great courage, twice squeezing through narrow gaps close to the barriers and was thus rewarded with his first Tour de France success after three at the Vuelta Espana.

Tomorrow will be more of a countdown of survivors than a rest ahead of the final six stages, including three Pyrenees and one time trial. Tuesday will see the sixteenth stage from Carcassone to Foix along 179 kilometres. As with the Alps, it would appear to be a soft approach to the tougher days ahead. The final climb, however, the Mur de Peguere, will feature 18% gradients in its last two kilometres, which could allow those who make the gap to launch themselves downhill towards the finish, 25 kilometres from the GPM.

The second week closes with a transfer stage, probably destined for another of the long-distance breakaways that have monopolised the GTs in recent years; moreover, it is the last of this Tour to exceed 200km. It’s a classic undulating stage, without any difficult climb. The not insignificant metres of elevation gain (over 2000) culminate with the climb of the Côte des Cammazes. The start will then be given from Rodez, with the riders immediately facing a continuous up and down climb that will continue for around 50 kilometres, along which the formation of the day’s breakaway is likely to take place. Shortly afterwards comes the first of the stage’s two GPMs, the simple Côte d’Ambialet (4.4 kilometres at 4.6%), which will be followed by some seventy kilometres of altimetrically smoother terrain. Once past Revel and into the final 60 kilometres of the race, the road will once again climb, first towards the bonus Sprint at Saint-Ferréol, then towards the Côte des Cammazes (5.1 km at 4.1%), at the top of which there will be another 45 kilometres to the finish line. After that, the route remains undulating after that, with a final 2.5km climb at 4% with 25km to go. The last kilometre also tends to climb, with an average gradient of around 1.5%. Temperatures of up to 38°C and winds of up to 40 km/h expected in the final. J Philipsen 5,W Van Aert 6,M Pedersen 7, D Groenewegen 8, F Jakobsen10 , C Ewan16, M Mohoric 25.

Mon 18 July – Rest day

Tue 19 July – Stage 16: CARCASSONNE>FOIX 178.5km. Elevation gain 3106m

Canada’s Hugo Houle dedicates emotional first victory to brother killed in hit-and-run.

Un commosso Hugo Houle all'arrivo di Foix
Photo Credit: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

Canadian Hugo Houle (Israel Premier Tech) won by a comfortable margin the 16th stage of the 109th Tour de France, the first of the Pyrenean triptych, which took the yellow caravan from Carcassone to Foix along 179 kilometres. Already third in Saint Etienne, in the stage won by Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo), Houle was 1’10” ahead of Frenchman Valentin Madouas (Groupama FDJ) and compatriot and team-mate Michael Woods (Israel Premier Tech). The general classification remains unchanged with Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) keeping the yellow jersey with an advantage of 2’22” over Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (Team UAE Emirates) and 2’43” over third-placed Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers). After many exciting days, for the first time today the Tour de France 2022 disappointed expectations. The breakaway created after halfway through the race was comparable to the composition of a government of national unity according to the Cencelli manual. The following riders were part of it: Brandon McNulty (Team UAE Emirates), Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies), Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Simone Velasco (Astana Qazaqastan), Nils Eekhoff (Team DSM), Mikkel Honorè (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl), Tony Gallopin (Trek Segafredo), Dani Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers), Wout Van Aert and Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo Visma), Hugo Houle and Michael Woods (Israel Premier Tech), Damiano Caruso and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious), Aleksandr Vlasov and Felix Grossschartner (Bora Hansgrohe), Matteo Jorgenson and Gorka Izagirre (Team Movistar), Maxime Bouet and Lukasz Owsian (Arkea Samsic), Neilson Powless and Stefan Bissegger (EF Education Easy Post), Alexis Gougeard and Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels KTM), Tim Wellens and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal), Michael Storer, Olivier Le Gac and Valentin Madouas (Groupama FDJ). The only reason for interest was the presence of Vlasov, who was 10’32 seconds behind the yellow jersey at the start from Carcassone. For this reason Jumbo Visma found cooperation in pulling the group together from Ineos Grenadiers and, to a lesser extent, Arkea Samsic, but certainly not from the UAE Emirates. The attackers had a lead of 7’30” at the attack on the Port de Lers, a first category GPM located 75 kilometres from the finish. At this point the Swiss rider Bisseger set off, followed by Caruso. Storer, Woods, Van Aert, McNulty, Jorgenson and Geschke were also gradually closing in on the two. It was the latter who was the first to pass under the GPM, thus consolidating his polka-dot jersey. On the descent, Vlasov, Teuns, Izaguirre and Houle followed. Meanwhile, Pogacar unsuccessfully attempted an attack on the yellow jersey, both uphill and downhill. In front, at the start of the final climb, the Mur de Peguere, Houle sprinted. Several, in turn, tried to go after him but no one had the legs to catch him. Behind, among the classification men, Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) and Romain Bardet (Team DSM) gave way. Pogacar’s further attack plans suffered a decisive blow when a mechanical accident took out his squire, Rafal Majka (Team Uae Emirates). Recognising that it was not a good day, the Komenda boy placed himself on the wheel of Vingegaard, postponing warlike intentions until tomorrow. Houle, meanwhile, arrived alone in Foix, dedicating his victory, with his finger pointing to the sky, to his brother Pierrick, who died ten years ago, run over by a drunk driver on his bicycle. Full results here

Tomorrow it will be repeated in the Pyrenees. There will be just under 130 kilometres, short and intense, which will take the riders from Saint Gaudens to the uphill finish at Peyragudes. The first 50 will be flat. After that, without a metre of flat, the riders will tackle in order the Col d’Aspin, 12 kilometres at an average gradient of 6.5%, the Horquette Ancizan, 8 kilometres at 5%, and Val Louron, 11,000 metres at 6.8%, from the summit of which there will be only 20 kilometres to the finish. The short descent will be the prologue to the final climb, 8 kilometres at 7.8%, at the end of which we should all have a clearer idea of the fate of this edition of the Grande Boucle.

After the rest day, the Tour restarted with the first of three Pyrenean stages. It is certainly not the hardest stage, but the sequence of Port de Lers and Mur de Péguère remains interesting, with two tough climbs close together and not too far from the finish line. The first 113 kilometres after the start are on average easy, with the only difficulties being the short Côte de Saint-Hilaire (4th cat., 1.5 km at 6.6%) and Col de l’Espinas (3rd cat., 5.3 km at 5%) shortly after the start. Once past the town of Vicdessos, the climb will begin towards Port de Lers, a 1 cat. climb of 11.4 km at 7%, with a couple of sections in double figures.

After 16 kilometres of descent, there will be another sharp climb towards the Mur de Péguère, a climb of 9.3 km at 7.9%, with just under 6 km constantly at 5/6% and then the final wall of 3.5 km at 12%, with peaks up to 18%.

At the summit there will be 27.2km to go and those who pass in the lead at the GPM will have to push hard to avoid being caught by the pursuers. The final kilometres can be trilling and the race evolution will depend on how many team-mates the chasers have at their disposal. It is easy to predict attacks during the whole stage and the GC contenders will have the ground for a fierce battle. Bookmakers Favourites: T Pogacar 6, T Pinot 10, A Bettiol 11, D Martinez 12, D Caruso 12, B Jungels 17, T Pidcock 20, Lennard Kamna 22.

Wed 20 July – Stage 17: SAINT-GAUDENS>PEYRAGUDES 129.7km. Elevation gain 3320m

Pogacar stamps his mark, but this is a Pyrrhic victory

Tadej Pogacar vince a Peyragudes, ma l'ombra gialla di Jonas Vingegaard non lo molla un attimo
Photo Credit: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

The Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (Team UAE Emirates) won, at the end of a fought sprint with the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma), the 17th stage of the 109th Tour de France, an explosive Pyrenean ride of just 130 kilometres that took the riders from Saint Gaudens to the uphill finish in Peyragudes. In third place, with an exceptional performance, was the American Brandon McNulty (Team UAE Emirates) with a delay of 32 seconds, whose superlative support for Pogacar did not, however, help to scratch the defences of the granite Dane. Vingegaard, therefore, retains the symbol of the lead with a 2’18 advantage over Pogacar, with Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) consolidating his third position, albeit detached from the diarchs. The Welshman is now 4’56” behind the yellow jersey with fourth-placed Colombian Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic) now 7’53” behind. Today’s stage, probably decisive for the final outcome of this edition of the Grande Boucle, was not spectacular. In fact, since the resumption of the race after the rest at Carcassone, there has been a lot of fatigue in the caravan, which is more than justified in light of the frantic pace at which the first two weeks of the race were conducted. At the start came the withdrawals of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) due to Covid positivity and Rafal Majka (Team Uae Emirates) due to the after-effects of yesterday’s crash. Pogacar’s team was therefore left with only four riders. The collective breakaway of the day did not go away. To be more precise, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama FDJ) and Aleksei Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqastan) took off, with an advantage that was always very small, with the Frenchman passing first on both the Col d’Aspin and the Horquette Ancizan. On the subsequent descent, under the action of Mikkel Bjerg (Team UAE Emirates), the peloton came back down. On the penultimate climb, the one that led to Val Louron, the race took a definitive turn. Bjerg gave way to team-mate McNulty. The rider from Arizona set a furious pace which, apart from his captain, only the yellow jersey could resist, while the rest of the classification men dispersed up the climb. The failure of Sepp Kuss (Jumbo Visma) seemed to be a harbinger of problems for Vingegaard, who instead showed himself to be completely in control of the situation. Pogacar attempted a single sprint, close to the GPM, but then, realising that the Dane was stronger today, waited for McNulty to come back, which brought the duellists together first on the descent and then again, on the final climb, close to the finish line to battle it out for the partial victory. With 300 metres to go Vingegaard sprinted but Pogacar, in a manner not dissimilar to what he did at the Planche des Belles Filles, easily overtook him, thus making a day on which he probably realised that the Tour de France 2022 will take the route to Denmark, right from where it started at the beginning of the month, less bitter. Full results here

Departure from Saint Gaudens and first part of the day without any particular difficulties, although the road will already start immediately to climb slightly. After 33 kilometres, the intermediate bonus Sprint in the village of La Barthe-de-Neste. The riders will face a few more kilometres of constant slightly up terrain before arriving in Arreau, where the Col d’Aspin (1st cat., 12 km at 6.5%, the last 6 km at 7.7%), one of the great classic in the Pyrenees will begin.

From the GPM it descends for 5 kilometres, a treacherous descent that brings you to the foot of the Horquette d’Ancizan, climbed on its easier side after 73km. The Hourquette d’Ancizan (2nd cat., 8.2 km at 5.1%) will begin. The climb already climbs a couple of km before that and there are two most challenging sections, broken up by 1 km of descent: the first 4 km at 7% and the second 3 km at 6.3%. Following the summit, another 10 km of technical descent brings you to Guchen. From here, the road will start to go up again for a dozen kilometres before climbing the Col d’Azet. A climb of 10.7 km at 6.8%, with a central section of over 6 km at an average of 8.5%. The third climb of the day, its another recurring name in the Tour de France routes and could be the perfect springboard for attacks by the GC contenders.

These are not impossible gradients, but after all, there are 20 km to go to the summit stage finish, almost all divided between descent and climb. Once a fast descent is over, we tackle a couple of flat km to Loudenvielle to the foot of the final 8 km climb at 7.8%. The first 5. 5 km are with gradients constantly between 8% and 9%; at this point we turn right and after a short breather, in the last 3 km the gradient goes into double figures for the first time; the road returns to 7/8% for a while and then surges to a maximum gradient of 16% just before the last 1,000 metres, which rise with an average gradient of 13%. Bookmakers Favourites: T Pogacar 4, J Vingegaard 5, T Pinot 11, T Pidcock 14, M Woods 14, N Schultz 18, E Mas 18, N Quintana 22.

Thu 21 July – Stage 18: LOURDES>HAUTACAM 143.2km. Elevation gain 4020m

The Hautacam consecrates Vingegaard

L'arrivo di Jonas Vingegaard a Hautacam
Photo Credit: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) triumphed on the 18th stage of the 109th Tour de France, the one that closed the Pyrenean cycle, along the 143 kilometres from Lourdes to Hautacam. The 25-year-old from Hillerslev emulated Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqastan), who also won in the yellow jersey at the same finish eight years ago, sealing his unforgettable success. In second place, 1’03” behind, came defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates Team) with Vingegaard’s teammate, green jersey Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma), the day’s authentic star, third at 2’10”. The general classification took shape definitively with Vingegard extending his lead to 3’26” over the Slovenian with Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) in third at 8’00”. The stage lived on the immense performance of Van Aert, who took off at the start and remained in command for the entire race. His early action generated a breakaway that was joined by another 30 riders: Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo Visma), Daniel Felipe Martinez, Dylan Van Baarle and Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Stan Dewulf, Benoit Cosnefroy and Bob Jungels (AG2R Citroën), Marco Haller, Patrick Konrad, Nils Politt and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora Hansgrohe), Matteo Jorgenson and Gorka Izagirre (Team Movistar), Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), Alberto Dainese (Team DSM), Alexandr Riabushenko (Astana Qazaqstan), Alberto Bettiol, Rigoberto Uran and Jonas Rutsch (EF Education EasyPost), Amaury Capiot and Matis Louvel (Arkéa Samsic), Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal), Giulio Ciccone and Tony Gallopin (Trek Segafredo), Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange Jayco), Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels KTM), Michael Woods (Israel Premier Tech) and Edvald Boasson Hagen and Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies). Passing first on the legendary Col d’Aubisque, Ciccone collected 20 points for the climbers’ classification, bringing him to within three points of leader Simon Geschke (Cofidis), who was wrecked at the back, in the polka-dot jersey classification. The top group passed with a delay of two minutes. The race of the classification men began on the second asperity, the Col de Spandelles. Pogacar lined up Brandon McNulty (Team UAE Emirates) in front, hoping that, like the day before, the pace of the rider from Arizona would shatter the peloton. This was not the case. Pogacar was therefore forced to attack in first person halfway up the climb, taking all but the yellow jersey off his wheel. In the meantime, three remained in the lead after Ciccone collapsed: Van Aert, Martinez and Pinot. The two riders went down together, creating a descent whose exploits will remain in the annals of cycling. The Dane was in danger of falling first, but miraculously remained in the saddle. A couple of kilometres further on, however, it was Pogacar who missed a turn and ended up on the ground. In a gesture of the utmost fair play, Vingegaard waited for his rival, who thanked him with a warm handshake when he returned, giving the world an image that threatens to overshadow the famous passing of the water bottle between Coppi and Bartali, which took place at the Tour de France 70 years ago. The slowdown following Pogacar’s crash allowed Sepp Kuss (Jumbo Visma) and Thomas to catch up. At the start of the final climb the lead of the leading trio was 2’30”. The steady push imposed by Kuss gradually eroded the margin of the escapees, while Pinot and, behind, Thomas gave way at the front. With 4,000 metres to go, just as Martinez also ran out of petrol, a reunion took place with Kuss literally handing over the baton to Van Aert. With a last, almost superhuman effort, the Flemish rider produced a progression that definitively weakened Pogacar’s resistance, launching the lone yellow jersey towards the finish line. Vingegaard sprinted towards victory, seeing the Champs Elysees now ever closer. Full results here

Today is the last chance for the climbers to make gains ahead of the final time trial. The stage is a bit short, but well-conceived, with three climbs of similar difficulty (all quite demanding) placed in sequence, without any flat terrain between. It takes about sixty easy kilometres to reach the foot of the Col d’Aubisque and after the bonus Sprint at Laruns and after passing Eaux-Bonnes, they begin to climb sharply towards the Col d’Aubisque (Cat.HC, 16.4 at 7.1%), which will give a first hard blow to the peloton, already exhausted by almost three weeks of fatigue and heat.

The Col d’ Aubisque is a long and demanding climb with the last 10 km at 8.3%. After the summit a few kilometres of technical descent, then you climb for a couple of kilometres to the Col de Soulor, where the real descent begins. A long descent, over twenty kilometres will bring the riders to the foot of the Col de Spandelles.

It doesn’t take a single metre of flat to enter the second climb, the unprecedented Col de Spandelles, of 10.3 km at 8.3%, with a first 5 km section at 9%. The climb is hard and with important gradients and until the finish there will never be good ground to chase. We descend again for 16km, again on treacherous roads, and immediately after the first ramps towards Hautacam begin.

The climb begins and measures 13.6km, with an average gradient of 7.8%. Hautacam has always been an indigestible climb for many due to its irregular pattern and numerous double-digit ramps: in particular the 3.5 km at 9.8% that end 4.5 km from the finish line. The fact that there is still a time trial of over 40 kilometres to go is extremely positive and could make additional spice to what is expected to be a great day for an unforgettable show. Bookmakers Favourites: T Pogacar 3, J Vingegaard 3, N Schultz 11, A Lutsenko 13, M Woods 16, R Bardet 20, T Pinot 26, A Leknessund 26, E Mas 30.

Fri 22 July – Stage 19: CASTELNAU-MAGNOAC>CAHORS 188.3km. Elevation gain 1,390m

Christophe Laporte’s smart move to win stage 19 in Cahors and save France’s honour

Un incredulo Christophe Laporte vince a Cahors la 19esima tappa del Tour de France 2022
Photo Credit: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

Frenchman Christophe Laporte (Jumbo Visma) won the nineteenth stage of the 109th Tour de France from Castelnau – Magnoac to Cahors over 188 kilometres with a slight valley terrain. Belgian Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Deceuninck) took the place of honour, separated by one second, with Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) from Padova earning third place. The general classification remained practically unchanged with Dane Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) retaining the yellow jersey with a margin of 3’21” over Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (Team UAE Emirates), who gained five seconds due to a break in the bunch in the final metres of the race. Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) remains in third position at 8’00”.

Despite heat and fatigue the riders again put on a show today, racing at an average of just under 48kmh. At the start a breakaway, consisting of five riders: German champion Nils Politt (Bora Hansgrohe), Dane Mikkel Honoré (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl), the winner of the last Milano – Sanremo, Slovenian Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), Dutchman Taco Van der Hoorn (Intermarché Wanty Gobert) and the young American, freshly shaved, Quinn Simmons (Trek Segafredo). The peloton, pulled by a moving Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) did not allow the attackers to take a lead of more than a minute. The situation remained fluid for more than 100 kilometres with the escapees, who, having lost Politt along the way, continued to hold a margin of just under a minute. The start of the Cote de la Cite Medievale de Lauzerte, the first of the day’s two GPMs with 50 kilometres to go, broke the balance in the leading quartet with Mohoric and Simmons leaving Honoré and Van der Hoorn. The attack by the two was, however, short-lived with the American the last to give way, caught up just after the second GPM, the Cote de Saint-Daunes, with 35 kilometres to go. On the subsequent descent, three riders when on the attack: Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels KTM), Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo) and Alfred Wright (Bahrain Victorious). Within 10 kilometres the trio had built up a half-minute lead over the peloton. At this point, however, the sprinters’ teams took matters into their own hands, gradually reducing the margin so as to complete the re-grouping ahead of the finish. With 1,500 metres to go, Laporte’s masterpiece took shape as he sprinted out of the bunch and took the wheel of the three outriders. The Frenchman then rested as long as necessary, using the last of the trio’s energy, and then set off again at the minus 500m, anticipating the peloton’s sprint and comfortably winning the stage. Full results here

Classic transfer stage just to get closer to Paris before Saturday’s time trial. The first thirty kilometres will be downhill and so there could be great speed for those who want to enter the breakaway, at least until the bonus Sprint in Auch. About twenty kilometres after the intermediate sprint, then, a short up and downhill section will begin, where the eventual breakaway can build up its advantage. The first real altimetrical difficulties after 134 ins with the Côte de la Cité Médiévale de Lauzerte ( 2 km at 6.2%) and the Côte de Saint-Daunés (1.6 km at 6.3%), with the latter at 35.7 km from the finish. These two GPMs are unlikely to serve as a springboard, but will leave a sign in the legs of the less resistant sprinters. In the last 35kms, there are no noteworthy bumps, but it should be noted that the last kilometre, almost completely straight, is a slight up, with an average of 2.5%. Bookmakers Favourites: J Philipsen 2, W Van Aert 4, F Jakobsen 5, C Ewan 7, D Groenewegen 7, M Pedersen 8, P Sagan 20, A Bettiol 33, A Dainese 38.

Sat 23 July – Stage 20: LACAPELLE-MARIVAL>ROCAMADOURS 40.7km. Elevation gain 411m

First Van Aert and second Vingegaard for the Jumbo triumph

Wout Van Aert accoglie Jonas Vingegaard al traguardo di Rocamadour: è trionfo Jumbo-Visma
Photo Credit: @cicloweb.it; Words by Simone Gambino

Green jersey Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) won the 20th stage of the 109th Tour de France, a time trial along the 40 kilometres and 700 metres from Lacapelle-Marival to Rocamadour. The Flemish star was 19 seconds ahead of his team mate, yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma), with white jersey Tadej Pogacar (Team UAE Emirates) third at 27 seconds. The general classification thus acquires its definitive shape. Twenty-six years after Bjarne Riis’ not exactly clear victory, Vindegaard, born in the very year of his compatriot’s success, gives Denmark its second triumph in the Grande Boucle. The place of honour at 3’34” goes to the Slovenian Pogacar, who fails a hat-trick after his successes in 2020 and 2021. It must not escape our notice that this young man is not yet 24 years old, as demonstrated by his winning the white jersey. I have no doubt that the Slovenian champion will be able to build on the mistakes he made this year on the roads of France in the future. On the contrary, the third place of Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) probably constitutes the swan song of the Welsh rider who, at 36 years of age, completes his collection of places on the podium after the victory in 2018 and the place of honour the following year. With only the fifth place in the general classification at stake, behind Frenchman David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ), which eventually went to Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora Hansgrohe) at the expense of Colombian Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic), today’s stage was consumed as a tasty challenge against the clock between the specialists. Italian expectations were given a boost when Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) set the fastest time of 48’41”. The hope that the grenadier from Verbania could finally give the Italians a success that had been missing for 63 stages was shattered by the prodigious performance of Van Aert, who inflicted a good 42″ on the world champion. The only one who made the green jersey tremble was his own captain. Vingegaard, in fact, remained in the fight for the day’s success until 2,500 metres from the finish when a badly taken curve caused him to risk a fall with potentially fatal consequences for his final triumph. Wisely, the Dane recovered in the final metres, settling for second place. Ganna thus dropped to fifth place, also preceded by Pogacar and Thomas. Full results here

Tomorrow the 109th Tour de France will end with the traditional sunset parade on the Champs Elysees. The twenty-first and final, all-Paris stage will start from the Defense to cross the finish line for the first time after 61 kilometres. Nine laps of a circuit of just under seven kilometres will follow, ending with the final sprint of a Grande Boucle in Danish sauce from start to finish.

A rather long time trial, the longest since 2014, that will not impact the fight for the yellow jersey but that will adjust the placings in the GC rankings. A flat first part and two small climbs in the finale: this is the menu for tomorrow’s time trial. The riders will start from Lacapelle-Marival and head towards the first time-checkpoint at Aynac, after 10.6 kilometres. This first part of the race will be particularly favourable to the specialists despite a few risky many bends. Also flat terrain will be found before the other time checkpoint in Gramat, and Couzou. The most complicated part will begin right after the third time checkpoint, located after kilometre 32.6. Here the road will first descend before tackling the Côte de Magés (1.6 kilometres at 4.7%). After another stretch of favourable roads, the route will climb steadily again until almost the finish. The Côte de l’Hospitalet (1.5 km at 7.8%) will end just 300 metres from the finish. Bookmakers Favourites: W Van Aert 2, F Ganna 4, T Pogacar 8, J Vingegaard 9, G Thomas 14, S Kung 15, S Bissegger 30.

Sun 24 July – Stage 21: PARIS LA DÉFENSE ARENA>PARIS CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES 115.6km. Elevation gain 757m

Almost needless to say, this year’s Tour de France closes with the usual catwalk on the Champs-Élysées. A short stage, slightly undulating at the start and then centred on the Parisian circuit with the usual slightly uphill finish on the cobblestones.

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