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Thursday was a historic day in Paris, with the unveiling of the men’s Tour de France route as well as the inaugural course for Tour de France Femmes.
One dovetails into the other in what are two very demanding courses. The men’s side features five mountaintop finishes, a day on the pavé, and two time trials, while the first-ever women’s edition sees sectors of gravel, a start in Paris, and an uphill finale at Belles-Filles in the Vosges.
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Here’s what some of the top protagonists said Thursday after seeing their first glimpse of both courses:
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates)
“It’s pretty great. It’s a complete course from the first to last stage. We have everything, sprints, small climbs, big climbs, echelons, time trials, cobblestones. I am really looking forward to it. I will do some recon, because it will be necessary. I am pretty excited. The windy stages are always tricky. Everybody is nervous for those stages, and it will be interesting to see what happens. When you have a 20km-long bridge [in Denmark], it’s rare that nothing happens. It will be scary. I think the time trials are good news, if I feel good. My best memory? Maybe celebrating with the team. Both were super-nice, it was pretty amazing.”
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar)
“It’s obvious I like the mountain stages, but there are other aspects I see very well as well. The fact of starting on the Champs-Élysées is a beautiful way to connect the men’s Tour with ours, starting when they end. I like different kinds of stages — days for sprinters, days with climbs, and stages with a hard final kilometer. It has all the ingredients of what a Tour de France should be. It’s true there’s no time trial, but I’m not too sad about that because the two mountain finales suit me well. The only thing I don’t like, and it’s something that not any other stage race does, is the stage with gravel. I don’t think it’s necessary in a Tour de France. It only increases the factor of ‘luck,’ because you can have a puncture. It’s a bit like a lottery.”
Ashleigh Moolman (SD Worx)
“I love the course. I’m super excited, it exceeded all expectations. There’s something for everyone: flat stages, long stages, gravel, and a super queen stage at La Planche des Belles Filles. That’s obviously the one I’m the most excited for. It will be my big goal for next year. Now I’ll go home and I’ll sit with my trainer to plan for the Tour de France.”
The cobbles are returning to #TDF2022…
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) October 14, 2021
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)
“I like the course, it’s a beautiful layout with an interesting first week: time-trial, echelons, cobblestones, finishes for puncheurs. It’s going to be great. Overall, it’s a very good route and a very inspiring first week for me. I can’t wait to recover from this season and start the recce.”
2022 Tour de France route looks intense. Cobbles back. Shorter stages and steep climbs often feature. Then a 40km TT as penultimate stage, longest TT distance since 2014
— the Inner Ring (@inrng) October 14, 2021
Audrey Cordon Ragot (Trek-Segafredo)
“I think it’s a balanced course. This is what we needed, with a course for all types of riders. The puncheurs stages are what suit me best. I also want to be on the move, and why not be super combative in the Tour de France, like Franck Bonnamour.”
Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels p/b KTM)
“It’s really nice to be here. During the retrospective of the Tour 2021, I had chills. Now I look forward to the next edition which promises to be great. What really caught my attention was that there are seven stages for baroudeurs. You will have to target them to get the best possible result. It’s a course that suits me well.”
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) October 14, 2021
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)
“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.”
Elisa Balsamo – reigning world road champion (Valcar Travel & Service)
“This is a very important day for us and I’m very happy to be here. I really like the stages and I think this is a very important day for women’s cycling. Wearing the jersey is wonderful. I already did the first Paris-Roubaix and now I hope to do the Tour. It’s a good year to have the rainbow jersey! The last stage is a very hard stage. I’ve never done La Planche des Belles Filles, it will be my first time.”
Feels strange watching the @LeTour route presentation knowing I will not be there. A beautiful route with every type of challenge but daunting at the same time. Less straight forward days than ever making the mental and physical challenge even greater.
— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) October 14, 2021
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech)
“It makes me what to do the Tour de France, not for winning, but just for being there. To start the Tour de France in your home country, not many people can do that. I am convinced that the start in Denmark will be something special, and not just for Danish riders. I don’t think I can win in Denmark, and if I win the time trial, you don’t know until afterwards. But if I do, I will try to grab a Danish flag.”
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)
“There are several stages that may suit me. If I had to choose one … L’Alpe d’Huez, it’s easy: a legendary stage; with the memory of Bernard Hinault. I would rather say another mythical place, Hautacam. And I have the particularity of knowing the Col de Spandelles. I did it in training. It’s difficult, a small road, a very winding descent. It will be a great discovery for many people.”
“I think it will be very interesting and unpredictable”
— Le Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (@LeTourFemmes) October 14, 2021