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Tour de France

Tour de France: Is the 2022 edition the ‘anti-Pogačar’ route?

Have Tour de France organizers delivered a course that's meant to derail Tadej Pogačar? Or is the Slovenian slugger built for any speed?

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The 2022 Tour de France features a bit of everything. There are stages for echelons and wind, the cobbles are back along with l’Alpe d’Huez, and the race is book-ended with the longest individual time trial since 2014.

Through Tour officials are loathe to admit it, it’s quite easy to tweak a course to suit a certain type of rider. Put in a lot of time trials, and the route is tilted in favor of the Tom Dumoulin‘s of the peloton. Load it up with mountains, and a spindly climber stands a chance.

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So what do you do with a rider like Tadej Pogačar, who apparently doesn’t have a soft underbelly? The answer seems to be to throw everything and the kitchen sink into the route, and hope it can rattle the Slovenian, and spice up the fight for yellow tunic.

Does the 2022 Tour de France favor one type of rider? Our VeloNews European crew dive in:

Does the men’s route favor anyone in particular, or is it the ‘Anti-Pogačar’ course?

Jim Cotton: I think the men’s route doesn’t favor any one particular rider, but just tilts more generally toward the fast-twitch dynamic GC riders that dominate the modern generation.

The absence of an old-school, six-hour multi-mountain marathon like years of yore, and the relatively modest amount of time trial kilometers means that the big diesel engines that dominated grand tours 10 years ago would get left way behind. However, all of the current crop of GC greats, from “Superman” to the Slovenians, don’t ride like that anyway – so it looks like an open race from this long a view.

The one interesting wrinkle that stands out is the penultimate-stage 40km time trial. The 2022 yellow jersey will need to be a rider that can stay strong through three weeks rather than relying on early gains before clinging on through a late-race fade.

 

Sadhbh O’Shea: Pogačar is such a rounded GC rider that it’s hard for anyone to design a course that doesn’t suit him. However, the potential for crosswinds in the opening stages and the inclusion of cobbles could be potential hurdles for the two-time champion.

Pogačar had to fight back from quite a distance to win his 2020 title after losing out in the crosswinds of the first week, while Roubaix-style cobbles can cause big problems for most GC riders.

If he rides, the tricky first week could help a rider such as Egan Bernal gain a key advantage — provided he limits his losses well in the opening time trial.

While Bernal hasn’t raced anything like Roubaix before, he’s shown himself very adept at tricky terrain by utilizing his mountain bike skills on gravel. He’s also proved to be a quick thinker in the crosswinds, something that could pay dividends at the 2022 Tour.

Andrew Hood: This Tour route is like a puzzle every day. There are no easy transition stages, and race organizers seem to be setting up traps and landmines at just about every turn. Who does it favor? Like any Tour, the strongest.

Big teams will have an advantage to bring pure brawn to protect their GC captains, so expect to see a few more classics riders earning spots on teams such as Jumbo-Visma, UAE-Team Emirates, and Ineos Grenadiers.

So far, Pogačar seems unflappable to whatever anyone throws at him. The addition of a longish TT at the end — the longest since 2014 — will eliminate the climbers from the frame. It’s hard to imagine anyone, barring crashes or otherwise, stopping Pogačar or Primož Roglič on this route.