Paradise for Tadej Pogacar? All you need to know about the 2022 Tour de France route
A Copenhagen grand départ, cobblestones, gravel, both sides of the Galibier, Alpe d’Huez on Bastille Day, and the return to the brutish Col du Granon for the first time in 36 years: the route of the 2022 Tour de France has a bit of everything, including six sprints, five altitude finishes, two time trials, and lashings of Bernard Hinault nostalgia.
Defending champion Tadej Pogacar flanked by world champion Julian Alaphilippe and record stage winner Mark Cavendish at the presentation of the 2022 Tour de France route
Defending champion Tadej Pogacar, the race's joint leading stage winner Mark Cavendish, and world champion Julian Alaphilippe were among a star-studded audience for the unveiling of the 2022 Tour de France route on Thursday – and what a captivating route it is.
Race director Christian Prudhomme revelled in revealing the demanding 3,328km parcours, which has a bit of everything: five summit finishes, six bunch sprints, two individual time trials, eleven sectors of cobbles in northern France, scope for crosswinds, a return to Alpe d’Huez, the Col du Granon and Hautacam, three stages in Denmark, a stint in Switzerland, and even a savage double-digit uphill dirt track.
It’s a route which harks back to the last Tour appearance of French legend Bernard Hinault in 1986, while throwing in enough innovative additions to keep new fans of the sport engaged and excited. It’s also a route which the yellow jersey incumbent will no doubt relish.
On a ground-breaking day for the women's sport, ASO also confirmed the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, which will start in Paris on the same day as the men’s Tour culminates on the Champs Elysées, concluding eight days later on the steep ramp of La Super Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges mountains.
Here is everything you need to know about the 109th edition of the Tour de France and the 1st Tour de France Femmes…
Three days in Denmark
A first ever grand départ in Denmark kicks off with a 13km race against the clock around the cycling-mad capital city of Copenhagen. It will be the first time in five years – since Geraint Thomas’s win in Düsseldorf – that the Tour has opened with an ITT.
The peloton will be on red alert for crosswinds during the 199km Stage 2 with 18km taking part on the eye-catching Great Belt bridge across the Baltic Sea between the islands of Zealand and Funen ahead of the flat finish in Nyborg.
The final day in Denmark should present another opportunity to the sprinters with a largely flat 182km route between Vejle and Sønderborg ahead of a transfer to north-west France.
Cobbles and climbs in northern France, the Vosges and Switzerland
Rolling roads should animate the fourth stage between Dunkirk and Calais before a mouth-watering foray onto the cobblestones for the 155km Stage 5. There are 11 sectors of pavé in total, including five unearthed by Thierry Gouvenou and his team that have never appeared before in the Tour or Paris-Roubaix. There will be almost 20km of cobbles packed together in the final 75km of a stage that harks back to Lars Boom’s victory at Arenberg Porte du Hainaut in 2015, the year Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour.
At 220km in length, the longest stage of the race aptly goes to Longwy, where Peter Sagan triumphed in 2017 on the punchy uphill sprint finish on the Côte des Religieuses. In 2022, the finale will be even harder as it comes immediately after the short but sharp Côte de Pulventeux, which averages over 12 per cent.
The first real summit finish comes one day later with the return of La Super Planche des Belles Filles, the steep double-digit gravel ramp where Dylan Teuns took the win in 2019 – an addendum to the demanding Vosges climb where Tadej Pogacar secured his maiden Tour win after reeling in compatriot Primoz Roglic in the penultimate-day time trial.
Stage 8 is a puncheurs' delight with another ramped finale over the Swiss border in Lausanne, before the opening week of the Tour concludes with a foray through the Swiss Alps, passing the UCI headquarters at Aigle ahead of a summit finish back in France in Châtel.
Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault | Tour de France 1986
Image credit: Getty Images
Memories of Hinault at Huez
After the first rest day, Stage 10 concludes with an uphill finish at the Megève altiport. This is followed by a yellow jersey showdown on the Col du Telegraph, Col du Galibier and the brutal Col du Granon, which features on the route for only the second time, 36 years after the American Greg LeMond soared into yellow at the expense of his teammate Bernard Hinault.
Just as it was in 1986, the summit finish on the Granon will be followed by a summit finish on Alpe d’Huez, where La Vie Claire duo LeMond and Hinault buried the hatchet and crossed the line arm in arm for one of the most unforgettable finishes in Tour history.
The 166km Stage 12 from Briançon will see the riders tackle the other side of the Galibier as well as the Col de la Croix de Fer ahead of the summit showdown after the famous 21 hairpin bends of Alpe d’Huez, which returns to the Tour for the first time since 2018, when Welshman Geraint Thomas won in yellow. Adding yet more piquancy to matters, the queen stage of the race – an exact replica of the 1986 stage – will take place on Bastille Day.
A few crumbs for the sprinters
Three transitional stages between the Alps and the Pyrenees will feature two likely bunch sprints and one ramped finish at the aerodrome in Mende.
First up comes Stage 13 to Saint-Etienne which should reanimate the battle for the green jersey, two days before another stage to Carcassonne, where Britain’s Mark Cavendish took his 34th Tour stage win this summer to level Eddy Merckx's long-standing record. Can he break it in 2022? We shall see.
Between these two flat stages is the fourteenth stage from Saint-Etienne to Mende, a 195km schlep which culminates on the same aerodrome where Britain’s Steve Cummings outfoxed French duo Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet on Mandela Day back in 2015 – a huge coup for his South African MTN-Qhubeka team.
Three days in the Pyrenees
After a rest day in Carcassonne the final phase of the race gets going with a rolling stage through the foothills reminiscent of the one Frenchman Warren Barguil won while sporting the polka dot jersey on Bastille Day in 2017. Climbs of the Port de Lers and the Mur de Péguère will be a launchpad ahead of a fast finish in Foix.
Another altiport finale comes in Stage 17 with the Col d’Aspin, Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col de Val Louron-Azet preceding the ascent of the Peyresourde with its fiendish ramped climax at Peyragudes, where Bardet won in 2017.
The race’s fifth and final summit finish comes at Hautacam, which returns after an eight-year hiatus. The mythical Col d’Aubisque and Col de Spandelles precede the final slog, where Nibali won in 2014 to cement his grip on yellow.
Final TT sandwiched by sprints
Three more stages remain with the all-important time trial separating two showdowns for the sprinters – at Cahors and on the Champs Elysées. The longest individual time trial since 2014 is a 40km affair that includes two short but sharp climbs just ahead of the uphill finish in Rocamadour. It will be the third time in as many years that the penultimate stage of the Tour features not a major mountain summit showdown but a race of truth.
So, who will win?
Well, with all those summit finishes – plus the same TT format that seems have suited him to a tee these past two editions – it will take something special to stop Tadej Pogacar from getting his hands on a third successive maillot jaune in Paris.
History made with the inaugural Tour de France Femmes
The new women’s race has avoided the pitfalls of a dull Parisian finish by kicking things off in the French capital on the same day that the men come to town. With the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (to give the race its full name) playing out over eight days, that will mean cycling fans will have an entire month (29 days to be precise) of racing to look forward to over the roads of France.
In total, the women’s race will cover 1,029km and include two mountain stages, two punchy stages, four flat stages – but no time trial – over a route that sticks to the north-east of France. A tough closing circuit for the third stage between Reims and Epernay will favour the attackers and recalls the day Julian Alaphilippe picked up his first yellow jersey in 2019.
While there will be no cobblestones for the women’s peloton, the fourth stage from Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube will feature white dirt road climbs winding through the region’s vineyards – roads not entirely dissimilar to those used in Strade Bianche.
The eight-day race culminates in the Vosges with Stage 7 – arguably the “étape reine” – featuring three of the biggest climbs in the Alsace region: the Petit Ballon (9.3km at 8.1%), the Col du Platzerwasel (7.1km at 8.3%) and the Grand Ballon (13.5km at 6.7%).
The riders will tackle the Ballon d’Alsace (8.7km at 6.9%) in the final stage ahead of a showpiece summit showdown on La Super Planche des Belles Filles for what should be a thrilling finale to a ground-breaking race.
Elisa Balsamo, the reigning world champion from Italy, said the unveiling of the route marked “a golden day for women’s cycling”. Her Danish colleague Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Groupama-FDJ) echoed these words: “It’s a huge day for women’s cycling – and for me. We’re getting a women’s Tour de France. It’s super exciting. We’re getting the big stage that the Tour de France is – and we’re getting the exposure that women’s cycling needs.”
The race already has one profile fan. The double reigning men’s champion Tadej Pogacar said: “When I finish my Tour, I’ll probably go in a campervan to see the women’s Tour.”