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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, October 15, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. - Arthur Ashe


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Les Woodland's book Tour de France: The Inside Story. Making the World's Greatest Bicycle Race is available as an audiobook here.

Team comments on 2022 Tour de France route

Yesterday we posted the 2022 Tour route.

2022 Tour de France route

2022 Tour de France map.

Here's what Team Deceuninck-Quick Step had to say about the race:

Denmark will become the tenth different country to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, on 1 July 2022, when the 109th edition gets underway with a flat and fast individual time trial. The next two days should belong to the sprinters, but echelons could make an appearance and wreak havoc on the peloton before it moves to northern France, where they’ll take on 20 kilometers of cobblestones that will shake up the general classification.

As if all this wasn’t enough, week one will also bring a tough summit finish in the Vosges, at the Super Planche des Belles Filles, followed by a trek into Switzerland. Three days in the Alps promise to spice up the GC fight, with Col du Granon – back after 36 years – and Alpe D’Huez on Bastille Day being the main attraction of the week. The Pyrenees will bring next year a return to both Peyragudes and Hautacam, which will force the climbers to go on the attack before the penultimate day 40km individual time trial. The race will once again conclude in Paris, on the Champs-Élysées, on what will be one of the rare opportunities the sprinters will get next year.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe in yellow after the first stage of the 2021 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

World Champion Julian Alaphilippe – the first Frenchman in more than three decades to win stages at four consecutive Tour de France edition – expects a hard race next year: “I can’t wait to discover the parcours and am already excited to the recon of some of the stages, as there are a couple of opportunities for the puncheurs. What I can already tell you is that the echelons and cobblestones will make for a nice and spectacular first week. I have a special relationship with the Tour de France and I’m happy to be back at the start with the rainbow jersey on my shoulders. I want to honour it again, give my best and get to enjoy another beautiful Tour de France with the team.”

“I’m super excited to be starting from Denmark. I knew the route there a bit and I’m looking forward to the ITT on stage 1. Stage 3 will pass just 100 meters from my front door and this alone makes me happy. Once we move to France, we’ll have some hard stages, with hills and the cobbles of Roubaix. Overall, it’s a tough course, but I can’t wait for it”, said Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Kasper Asgreen when asked about the route.

“It’s going to be a very hard Tour de France. Of course, starting from Copenhagen, where I became World Champion, brings back a lot of great memories, but those first days after the time trial could be really hectic. There aren’t as many chances for the fast men as in the past, so you’ll need to try to make the most out of every opportunity”, added Mark Cavendish, who earlier this year claimed the green jersey and matched Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage victories.

Here's what Jumbo-Visma had to say about the 2022 Tour:

Team Jumbo-Visma will head to next season’s Tour de France with a selection with ‘broad qualities’. That’s what sportive director Merijn Zeeman said today after the presentation of the 2022 Tour route. “It is a beautiful and varied Tour de France. To win the Tour you need a team that is good on different terrains. There are fewer sprint opportunities than last year. But every stage contains something that requires specific qualities and that can create shifts”, he said.

The 109th edition of La Grande Boucle starts with three stages in Denmark. “It’s always special to start in another country”, Zeeman said. “There is a lot of enthusiasm and the Tour will attract a lot of people. We’ve seen that in the Netherlands as well. With his second place, Jonas Vingegaard was the revelation of this year’s Tour. We haven’t discussed the composition of our team at all yet, but there’s a good chance Jonas will be part of the selection. That would be very special for him.”

Jonas Vingegaard

Jonas Vingegaard time trialing in stage five of the 2021 Tour. Sirotti photo

In stage five, the cobblestones return to the Tour de France. At the end of the first week, the first mountain ranges loom with the Vosges and the Alps. In the third week, three more tough Pyrenees stages are on the program. On the penultimate day, a relatively long time trial of forty kilometres will decide the classification. The Tour traditionally finishes on the Champs-Élysées.

According to Zeeman, the route guarantees spectacle. “The first week is characterised by the time trial, wind and cobblestones. That makes things hectic. It will ask a lot of the team. If we put a climber’s team together, you can already get into trouble in the first week. Then we go to the Alps via La Planche des Belles Filles. The latter is a real troublemaker because the finish is on the gravel path again. As in 2019, big differences can arise there. I noticed that we go over the Galibier twice in the Alps, so we ride a lot at altitude there. Then a transition to the Pyrenees, with steep climbs there as well. The variation is that we’re also going to see longer climbs there with a lesser gradient. We finish with a time trial of forty kilometres, which is quite long. But with this course there can also be big differences early on. The course is a significant factor in cycling. With the insights we have, we will now brainstorm about the team. The Tour de France is the main goal, so we are going to make a good plan for that.”

Here's the Trek-Segafredo view of the 2022 Tour:

It’s a special day for the Tour de France. Not only because today the 2022 route was unveiled but also because, from next year, the Grande Boucle doubles itself with a women’s edition. In the traditional setting of the Palais des Congres in Paris, the organizer A.S.O. presented the two exciting and challenging races.

THE 109TH TOUR DE FRANCE

The Tour de France will start July 1st and end July 24th. The Grand Depart is scheduled to take place in Denmark over three days: a 13-kilometer individual time trial in central Copenhagen, followed by two road stages.

After a day of travel, the race will continue in Dunkirk for Stage 4, and on the following day face an epic challenge: the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix with a finish in Arenberg.

The tough opening week will continue with the first mountains on Stage 7, finishing atop Super Planche des Belles Filles, where Giulio Ciccone took the yellow jersey in 2019.

The last week will see the Pyrenees as protagonists, with finishes atop the Hautacam and Peyragudes. Paris, naturally, will play host to the final stage.

In total, there will be 6 flat stages, 7 mixed stages, 6 mountain stages and 2 time trials.

The Grand Depart will offer local hero Mads Pedersen extra incentive:
“For a Danish guy to have the Tour de France Grand Depart in Denmark is something special and super nice, something I’m really looking forward to. This is maybe once in a lifetime that this happens, so I’m super excited for the start next year with the time trial in Copenhagen. We will pass about 100 meters from my home in the second stage, there are not many people who get the chance to have this experience. I can’t wait to start the Tour in Denmark and see all the people celebrate with a big party. I can’t wait to see all my friends and family on the roads to watch me racing the Tour.

Mads PEdersen

A bandaged Mads Pedersen about to start stage fourteen of the 2021 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

“The stages in Denmark will be super important for the race, especially Stage 2 where we are passing [over] the big bridge – some guys can definitely lose the Tour that day. Those will be some hectic and stressful days for sure; it’s going to be really special to see how chaotic these stages will be. I know the roads well so I know that they are pretty small.

“I haven’t planned to do anything special when passing my home roads since I’m racing and that’s why I’m there. I, of course, hope for some good results; aiming for a yellow jersey in Denmark would be my biggest dream. Now, with Dunkirk on Stage 4 and the cobblestones on Stage 5, it’s going to be a really nice first week of the Tour.

“The cobbles will be a super special stage; to be around with climbers and GC riders and the pure classic guys who want to win it. It will be very different from when we race it in the spring also with the 5 new sectors that will show some surprises as well.

“If you’re doing a good result in the first stages then you will be in the mix for the yellow jersey in the first week. That would be a dream to accomplish.

“It’s maybe not the best Tour for sprinters, but even so, maybe it can make my chances higher for the sprint days we have. We will see, but I am looking forward to it!”

Team director Kim Andersen’s valued technical opinion:
“I think it will be a really, really hard Tour. The first days there will be a lot of stress, a relatively long opening time trial, the possibility of strong crosswinds on the bridge in Denmark, and the transfer to France. From here, there is a big cobbled stage and then soon we are at La Planche des Belles Filles.

“For the last two years I have been 99% sure that there would be cobbles in this edition. As we’re traveling from Denmark to Lille it made sense that we would ride some cobbles. There are around 20km of cobbles, including five sections we have never seen before in the Tour or Paris-Roubaix.

“After La Planche des Belles Filles we go into the Alps and there are a lot of hilltop finishes, but also tough sprints which aren’t really sprints: there aren’t many pure sprint stages in this edition. Many of the mountain stages are short but very intense. We even have Stage 12 starting with the Col du Galibier. Ouch!

“I really think it will be a super interesting Tour to watch on television. In Denmark there will be a spectacle on the bridge, then in France another spectacle on the cobbles and Planche des Belles Filles. After that, the climbs come throughout. It’s going to be a hard Tour, but I really like this route. It’s really fantastic to have the Tour de France come to Denmark, I think it will be a beautiful party with a lot of spectators.”

THE 1ST TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES

Long-awaited, the Tour de France Femmes will debut on the same day that the men’s edition finishes. On July 24, in Paris, the first stage will be a circuit that will run from the Eiffel Tower to the Champs-Élysées.

The next seven stages will cross from west to east over the regions of northern France. Stage 4 will be a challenge on the white gravel roads (from Troyes to Bar-Sur-Aube) while the finale will be explosive with two summit finishes at Le Markstein and on July 31 at the Super Planche des Belles Filles. There, the first winner of the Maillot Jaune for the first edition of Tour de France Femmes will be crowned.

In summary, the eight-day race will offer 4 flat stages, 2 mixed stages, and 2 mountain stages.

After winning the first edition of Paris-Roubaix, Lizzie Deignan dreams of adding another milestone in her already rich career:

“It’s an important day for cycling, not just women’s cycling.  Unveiling the route for the Tour de France Femmes is a key indicator that the sport is still progressing as we are now able to compete in the most well-known bike race in the world.

“I think the organizers have done a really good job preparing the route for this edition and it will showcase the best that women’s cycling has to offer with a stage suited to every type of rider. That is something I was really hoping for. The route has been designed to offer entertaining racing from start to finish, but also to reach a crescendo with the final stage finishing on the Super Planche des Belles Filles, one of the hardest climbs in professional cycling.

“I think each stage is dynamic: different and interesting. There are so many challenges thrown into just eight days of racing! I’m particularly interested in the fourth stage between Troyes and Bar-sur-Aube; the unpaved roads are unusual and something we don’t often encounter. The inclusion of a stage with gravel sectors will mean it’s likely to be a complete rider who wins the Tour de France Femmes. I think you can either win or lose the entire race on a stage like this; it’s not just going to be about who can climb the fastest on the final stage, it will open up the GC early. Personally, I’m a fan of the gravel stage; I love Strade Bianche and have won that before. Also, the fifth stage at 175km long will be interesting as we normally don’t race close to this distance, especially during a stage race.

“I expect the first yellow jersey to go to a sprinter, but then also to change hands many times along the way, which will be exciting for the fans. We’ll see lots of super-motivated riders and everyone will be in top shape because there are opportunities everywhere.”

Audrey Cordon-Ragot gives a French perspective:
“I am really pleased because I think [the organizers] listened when they asked for our opinion and we said we wanted an open race where everyone can express themselves with different winners.  All the stages are open for many different riders, and this is what we wanted. Of course, it’s a little bit too east for me – I wish we could come to Bretagne but that will come in the next years, I am sure.

“If I had to pick one stage I like the most it’s the Champagne stage with the gravel sectors. It’s a stage where everything can happen, similar to the men’s stage on the cobbles.  It can really open the GC: a GC leader can lose everything on this stage.

“The two last stages will be amazing, and I have never done the Super Planche des Belles Filles where it ends on the gravel; that is super exciting.  These last two stages will define the GC for sure.

“It’s a great first edition which I am sure is going to be amazing.”

Team Director Ina Teutenberg’s sentiments:
“It’s super exciting that we finally have a Tour de France; it’s finally happening! It was nice to attend the big presentation in person. It’s a pretty diverse course with stages for sprinters, mid-mountain stages, and everything in between. Of course, it will be special to show the rainbow bands with Elisa Balsamo at the first Tour de France Femmes, although it would have been nice to have included a time trial to add another element to the race and give that opportunity to show the rainbows to Ellen as well. Otherwise, I think it’s a great route and I’m looking forward to being at the start next year.”

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