The 2022 cycling year was so packed with headline-harvesting stories that not even a full grand tour could house them all.
In this 22-stage series, Sadhbh O’Shea, Andrew Hood, Betsy Welch, Will Tracy, and Jim Cotton pick through the stories that shaped the narrative in 2022.
From the Tour de France through gravel worlds and beyond, here’s part one of this five-part series:
Jumbo-Visma upturns Tadej Pogačar at the Tour de France
The Tour de France got turned up to 11 this summer in what was a race for the ages.
Two-time defending champion Tadej Pogačar was outflanked and overturned by Jonas Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma in a must-see three weeks of dynamic dueling between two Gen-Z stars and their superpower support teams.
Vingegaard scored Jumbo-Visma’s long-sought yellow jersey in a Tour that centered around a popcorn-worthy royal rumble over the Galibier and Granon. Vingegaard, Primož Roglič, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss threw haymaker after haymaker at an over-confident Pogačar until the defending champion unraveled in a way never seen before.
The stage 11 spectacle will go down in cycling lore and be inked into tactical notebooks for its ruthless masterclass in aggressive racing.
Vingegaard’s eventual victory in Paris heralded the arrival of a new grand tour great, rubberstamped Jumbo-Visma as the leading force of the WorldTour, and stoked Pogačar’s fire for seasons to come.
Pogačar and Vingegaard are likely to face off again in the 2023 Grande Boucle. Mark your diaries, book your vacation, and stock up on snacks.
It should be a stunner.
UCI-sanctioned gravel worlds arrives
Rarely has a new opportunity to win a set of rainbow bands been met with such scrutiny as the debut of the UCI Gravel World Championships.
For U.S.-based fans, the event entered the arena as an easy target from the get-go. Simply uttering “UCI” and “gravel” in the same breath was cause enough for concern. Gravel has long been regarded as the anti-UCI of bike racing in the United States, and some of the loudest critics were riders who had left that world for the grassroots giddy-up of gravel.
It didn’t help, then, when details about the event were slow to emerge, with the venue and date only being announced months before and the course with less than one month to go.
To add insult to injury, the Italian worlds course was mostly flat and non-technical, and some of Europe’s top road, ‘cross, and MTB pros showed up at what was likely the late-season behest of their sponsors.
Team USA assembled a squad consisting of some of the best women in gravel, but when Pauline Ferrand Prevot is in town, well, all bets are off.
The Frenchwoman took her fourth set of rainbow stripes for the year at gravel worlds, and Belgian cylocrosser Gianni Vermeersch won the men’s race.
Farewell rim brakes
Rim brakes went out not with a bang but a whimper.
Their downfall was swift, taking place over the course of just a few years. First, fringes of the pro peloton embraced disc brakes for their braking power advantages, especially in wet weather and on lengthy descents. The advantages steadily became apparent to more teams, and bike brands championed the movement, rolling out disc brake models that could meet the UCI weight minimum, negating one of the last arguments for rim brakes in the pro peloton — and providing more things to sell to the rest of us.
But still, there were holdouts even this season, notably Tadej Pogačar still riding rim brakes in the spring for mountain stages. Then July rolled around and his rim brake bike never made an appearance in the Tour as he rode a new prototype Colnago.
Granted, rim brakes are still around, and the most fervent supporters of the tech can still find them. But it’s getting harder. The new Shimano 105 Di2 group eschews them altogether. And anecdotally, even bike shop owners looking for a rim brake compatible hub are having trouble finding stock.
To the fringe voices on Instagram still lauding the praises of rim brakes, we wish you the best.
Pauline Ferrand Prévot pedals into new territory
Ferrand-Prévot was one of the standout riders in 2022 after she claimed four world titles across two disciplines in the space of a few weeks. The French woman has had, at times, a tumultuous career, but she seems to be in her pomp at the moment. Her season was so good that she managed to convince Ineos Grenadiers to branch out into women’s cycling for the first time in the team’s history.
Ferrand-Prévot penned a two-year deal with the British team that will see her race in Ineos colors through 2024, when she’s hoping to go for gold in the in the mountain bike event at the Olympic Games. For now, Ferrand-Prévot is the only female rider on the Ineos roster and it remains to be seen if she can tempt the squad to branch out further into the women’s side of the sport.
The move to Ineos Grenadiers is more than just about mountain bike and Ferrand-Prévot is now back in cyclocross again for the first time in years. She’s still finding her groove in the discipline, which has changed a lot since she left, but she’s put in some performances that show plenty of promise as the season goes on.
Filippo Ganna steamrolls the World Hour record
It was only a question of time before Filippo Ganna took on cycling’s biggest time trial challenge. In fact, for the past few years, the Italian star on Ineos Grenadiers was asked about when he was going to take on the hallowed hour record in just about every interview he gave.
Somewhat suddenly, Ganna decided to do it this summer. With all the backing from the best technicians, coaches, mechanicals, and specialists at Ineos Grenadiers, it also seemed inevitable he was going to set a new mark.
The hour record is a different kind of beast. Most riders adept at time trialing try to cover a set distance from A to B in the least amount of time, and if they’re fastest among the field, it doesn’t really matter how fast they go.
The hour record is cruel in that the rival is the minute hand. The click of the clock is constant, and the objective is to go fast as far as possible within the 60-minute window. The pain is immeasurable. The time is constant.
A rule change in 2014 opened a flood of new attempts, with Jens Voigt the first breaking the 51km mark in the new era. A string of attempts and new records saw the distance increase incrementally, with Bradley Wiggins going over 54km in 2015. Victor Campenaerts took it over 55km in 2019.
In October, riding on the Suisse Velodrome in Grenchen, Ganna went faster than any man’s gone before, setting a new mark of 56.972km/h. It’s a mark that might stand for a while.