Tour de France 2022: "The first week promises to be thrilling", reacts Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe, Tadej Pogacar or Mark Cavendish: the heroes of the last Big Loop had met to discover together the route of the Tour de France for men 2022 but also for women, unveiled at the Palais des Congrès on Thursday, October 14. If all gave a personal analysis, they agreed on one point: this 2022 course is successful, difficult, mountainous and very dense.

“It’s a very beautiful course, with a first week that promises to be thrilling. There are several areas of expression: time trial, curbstones, cobblestones, a finish for punchers. It will be a first. week with movement“, advances Julian Alaphilippe, who does not have to look very far to imagine actors of such a scenario. “It’s a difficult course, that’s for sure. It’s a first glimpse, but there is really strong awaiting us”, confirms the double world champion.

Also present, the double title holder Tadej Pogacar was impatient to be able to project himself on a potential third coronation in a row, a feat achieved only once in the 21st century by Christopher Froome (2015, 2016, 2017). “Discovering this track is like opening a gift, I’ve been waiting for this since the end of the Tour. It’s going to be interesting. I don’t know if it’s a Tour for me, but I’ll do my best to win it. a third time “, says Komenda’s pixie in a large suit that doesn’t suggest the power her legs develop throughout the year.

If runners and observers alike agree that this Tour gives pride of place to the mountains, the start in Denmark, with in particular a second stage which will end with the descent of an 18 km bridge, the Great Belt, on the strait which connects the two largest Danish islands, will not be easy. “It will be an additional motivation to leave my country “, details the local Jakob Fuglsang, who should play his 11th Tour with a new team, Israel-Start Up Nation, which he has just joined. “I think I’ll disappoint the prince, the yellow jersey won’t come from me I think! But I told Kasper Asgreen he had to do his homework!”, he smiles.

Julian Alaphilippe surrounded by Tadej Pogacar and Elisa Balsamo during the presentation of the Tour de France 2022, Sunday, October 14, 2021. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP)

Winner of the last Tour of Flanders, Alaphilippe’s teammate will indeed be a big customer for the first yellow jersey at the end of the 13-kilometer stopwatch in Copenhagen. “Obviously, the inaugural time suits me quite well, it will be very fast, which is good for me. The second day, we will have a lot of wind on the bridge, it will be very spectacular and we could already have big gaps. . On the third day, we will drive on my training roads, a few hundred meters from my house and my family “, Asgreen says.

But what crystallizes the attention of this route, even more than the 11th stage and its terrible Col du Granon, is the return of the cobblestones, more seen since 2018. “I will put a big red cross on this stage to win it. I love cobblestones, I have a lot of fun with them, having them on the Tour is great “, welcomes the Dane.

An enthusiasm not necessarily shared by the favorites of the general, who know that they can lose everything that day, like Chris Froome in 2014. “We’re not the best on cobblestones and windy races, but you never know, we can get away with it and surprise you”, let Tadej Pogacar hover. “I had fun in 2018 on the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix, it requires recognition, notes David Gaudu, 11th of the last edition. Even if it happens early enough, on the Tour there is likely to be a huge gap. The Grand Départ with this long bridge risks shattering the peloton, the cobblestones will bid a little extra. “

The Breton climber, who had said goodbye to his chances of top 10 on Mont Ventoux, should then find a terrain at his convenience, with a big week in the Alps. “The stage of Col du Granon or that of Hautacam are the ones that will make me dream, Alpe d’Huez too. The Col du Granon may be a flagship finish that may suit me. I have never climbed it but it looks very hard. It will be played on the pedal “, anticipe Gaudu.

TDF 2022: deciphering the Tour de France routes

Tadej Pogacar does him in the formula, perhaps inspired by the verve of the director of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme. “There are a lot of stages where we can lose it, and some where we can win it”, notes the 23-year-old Slovenian. But it will not only be the mountain and the cobblestones for sustenance. This route also gives pride of place to stages for punchers, such as Longwy (6th stage), the Super Planche des Belles filles (7th stage) then in Lausanne (8th stage) or Mende (14th stage). “It is certain that there will be opportunities, there are finishes which suit the punchers. There is a way to do things on this Tour, with fairly open stages and I hope to be one of the riders who will know seize opportunities”, hopes Benoit Cosnefroy, third in the last European Championships.

The arrival at Longwy at the top of the Religious Hill (1.6 km at 5.8%) seems the ideal stage to see Julian Alaphilippe, who has the best team to spend this first week, taking on a third edition of following the yellow jersey. He who was scattered on the Tour 2021 after his victory wishes to refocus his objectives, without denying himself. “I’m going to try to target my goals and stick to it, whether it works or not, don’t try to always be there. If it’s going a little less before or after, it’s okay. show the jersey and I will continue to do so “, announces the French.

But he, like the others, will have time to perfect their preparation and their goals by then as the 2022 season is in full swing. First, it’s time to recuperate, but I can’t wait to do some reconnaissance and see what we can prepare for this Tour. There are a few steps for punchers. For the first time we see the course, it makes you want “, concludes the one who gleaned six stages in three editions.

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