21 days of pure racing: The Tour de France 2022

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28.07.22 at 10:23 am

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The Tour de France 2022 is complete (at least for the men’s peloton), and some of you out there may already be feeling the post Tour blues. Fear not however, because today we’ll be taking you back in time to relive all of our favourite moments from this years Tour de France.

21 days of racing across four different countries saw some of the most spectacular racing we’ve ever seen and produced some truly memorable moments. Ranging from the heart-warming to the truly unbelievable, it’s all here.

Magnus Cort wears polka-dots in Denmark

For some, the most northerly Grand Départ ever became a bit of a damp squib, with the crossing of the Great Belt Bridge proving a rather dull affair without the expected crosswinds.

Despite this, one man rose to the occasion in his native Denmark by taking the polka-dot jersey on home roads and carrying it back into France. Stage 2 of the race saw a handful of category four climbs appear on the route, not significant enough for any overall contender for the jersey, but perfect for an attacking rider like Cort to take the first points of the race.

Cort duly took home all of the points available on both road stages in his home country, on the way celebrating every point like he’d just won a stage. This was of course playing up to the huge crowds that lined the streets of Denmark in scenes not seen since the Tour visited Yorkshire in 2014. In the grand scheme of things this was a small moment in the race, but for Cort and the Danish fans it’ll be something they’ll remember forever.

 

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If at first, you don’t succeed…just do a Wout van Aert

By now we all know what the great Wout van Aert is capable of, but it still comes as a surprise whenever he does something spectacular. By Van Aert’s standards this years race had begun as a disappointment, with the Belgian taking three second places in a row in Denmark. The Jumbo-Visma man did take the yellow jersey back with him to Dunkirk however and decided that enough was enough by stage 4.

In a show of true strength from his entire team, Van Aert attacked on a short fourth-category climb lasting just 900 metres. This was all he would need to decimate the race though, and ride solo for the last 10 kilometres of the stage all the way to the line.

Seeing the yellow jersey attack in a such a way (especially on a day marked for the sprinters) took some on the race back to the days of Bernard Hinault. Seeing a rider with such pure tenacity and a desire just to race will never get old, so long may this era of attacking racing continue.

Vingegaard takes yellow and proves Pogačar can be beaten

After two seasons of near total dominance in almost every race he entered, Tadej Pogačar was beginning to look unbeatable. After 10 stages of the race, the Slovenian had a 39 second gap over Dane Jonas Vingegaard and as the race hit the Alps, many thought this would be where Pogačar drove the nail into the Jumbo-Visma challenge. In the end something very different happened.

Jumbo-Visma began to attack Pogačar from the outset, leading to his team collapsing around him, while the Dutch squad had strength in numbers. As the race hit the heights of the Col du Galibier it seemed like Pogačar had weathered the storm but once the now infamous Col du Granon was underway, it was clear that there was about to be a seismic change to the race.

Vingegaard attacked once more, this time distancing the rest of the GC men including a visibly distressed Pogačar, leaving the race in tatters. As the climb extended into the clouds so did Vingegaard’s advantage over the rest of the field. By the time the finish line arrived, the yellow jersey had changed hands and the cycling world was in disbelief at what they had just witnessed.

 

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Daredevil descending sees Pidcock win on Alpe d’Huez

Bastille Day is a huge day in the French calendar every year, but this time it had the added bonus of a stage finishing on the great Alpe d’Huez. The day had the feel of ‘the morning after the night before’ with the cycling world still reeling from Jonas Vingegaard’s display on the Col du Granon a day earlier.

Once the breakaway had formed, it looked like a relatively routine day would follow. With a GC battle on the Alpe looking likely. Tom Pidcock and Chris Froome had other ideas though. The two Brits descended across to the already established breakaway on the Galibier – the same side they’d climbed the day before – giving the group extra impetus to make it all the way to the line.

After a period of working within the five-man group, Pidcock decided that he’d had enough of the cooperation and attacked once more on the descent in a display that can only be described as sheer lunacy. He couldn’t decisively drop his rivals, but the sight of Pidcock flying down the Col de la Croix de Fer will be one of the lasting images from this year’s Tour.

Once on the slopes of Alpe d’Huez, there was no looking back for Pidcock who simply obliterated his breakaway companions to take the biggest victory of his road career so far. Froome fought on valiantly to take third place on the stage, his best result for some time following his injury in 2019. Geraint Thomas came home with the favourites to move himself onto the provisional podium, rounding out a very good day for Britain’s stars.

 

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Vingegaard and Pogačar show rivalries can be friendly

After 19 days of hard racing, including the two brutal mountain stages in the Pyrenees, you could be forgiven for thinking that the first and second placed riders in the general classification may not be the best of friends.

This is evidently a thing of the past though, as this new generation of stars get on with each other off the bike, and truly respect each other on it. This clear shift from pure rivalry towards mutual respect is refreshing to see, and it was never more obvious than on the descent of the Col de Spandelles during stage 18 of the race.

Pogačar was trailing his Danish opponent by over 2 minutes before the last mountain stage and knew that he had to attack and drop Vingegaard to have any chance of winning his third yellow jersey in a row. Despite his best efforts, the Slovenian superstar failed to drop the Jumbo-Visma man and both began the descent locked together, as they had been for much of the race.

It was a treacherous descent, with Pogačar pushing hard to get any kind of gap as the road headed downwards. Disaster then struck, as the two-time Tour champion crashed on a patch of gravel. This allowed Vingegaard to put some distance between the two riders, however the yellow jersey decided to wait for Pogačar in a show of true sportsmanship.

 

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We all want to see these kind of duels decided through racing and not misfortune, and by waiting Vingegaard not only proved his respect for Pogačar but also allowed himself to show that he was clearly the stronger rider on the final climb, the Hautacam, where he took his second stage win, this time in the yellow jersey.

What a memorable edition of the world’s greatest bike race it was, and we’ll all be back next year to do it all over again. Don’t forget, the Tour de France Femmes is on the road, so there is plenty of great racing still to come. Finally, if you are planning to watch any of the remaining races of the season from the roadside, make sure to take out travel insurance before you leave.

 

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