Photos: ASO/Pauline Ballet & Aurelien Vialatte
The curtain is closing on the 2022 Tour de France. Yes, we’ll await the results of the stage 20 time trial, but why not look back on the highlights and lowlights of the race that was? To help with this endeavor, I’ve called upon our Senior Writer, Bruce Lin, and our Chief Campagnolo Officer, Sean “Sully” Sullivan to opine on this Tour’s highs and lows.
Don’t forget, like the Semisonic song, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end — the Tour de France Femmes starts on Sunday as the men’s Tour wraps up. Here’s my guide to that race.
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Highs of the 2022 Tour de France
These were our favorite moments from this year’s race, from daring attacks to satisfying stage wins to impressive displays of strength.
Spencer - Pidcock Proves He Can Do It All
There’s so much to love about Tom Pidcock’s victory on Alpe d’Huez in stage 12. This is the Brit’s debut Tour. Impressive. He descended like a madman off of the Croix de Fer to launch his audacious solo attack. So many amazing highlights. And there was a sort of full-circle moment with Pidcock, the future of British cycling, and Chris Froome, the old Lion who’s grown long in the tooth, who were both in the day’s breakaway.
Better still, Pidcock is a multi-discipline star. I’ve loved watching Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel tear it up. Now, Tom Pidcock has entered the chat. Let’s see, at the start of 2022, he won cyclocross world championships. Then about a year ago, he won an Olympic gold medal in mountain biking. He can do it all, and he does it with panache.
Bruce - Wout van Aert’s Amazing Stage 4 Solo Attack
I feel like a proud dad — no that’s weird — a proud older brother whenever I watch Wout van Aert win. I started following him after his first cyclocross world championship in 2016 and watched him grow massively through the years. He’s always impressed me with his unmatched grit and determination.
We’ve seen his grit on display in nearly every stage during this year’s Tour, with van Aert constantly contesting sprints, entering breakaways, and attacking mountains normally reserved for pure climbers. But the highlight for me was his crazy Stage 4 win. After finishing second three stages in a row, he and the Jumbo squad decided to make Stage 4 a sure thing and did what they do best — tore the entire peloton apart.
On the Côte du Cap Blanc-Nez, Jumbo attacked, burning its riders up the climb and dropping all of the pure sprinters. Vingegaard and Yates were the only two able to stay with van Aert when he launched, but he dropped them at the summit. From there, he soloed away with his head down and and I was biting my nails for the next 10km. When he crossed the finish line the peloton was barreling down behind him, but he had just enough time to celebrate. It was one of his most impressive wins, and he did it while wearing the yellow jersey.
Here’s a stunning stat: If you include the final two stages from the 2021 Tour, van Aert had six-stage streak where he finished 1,1,2,2,2,1 — crazy. He’s so versatile and consistent, I could see him someday matching Eddy Merckx and Mark Cavendish’s record for Tour stage wins.
Sully - Michael Matthews Comes Correct in Stage 14
Michael Matthews is a lot better bike rider than he sometimes gets credit for, a former green jersey winner in the TDF and an U23 world road race champion.
Now that he is on the wrong side of 30, his sprint has been blunted a little, but his ability to be the "last sprinter standing" on the stages with medium difficulty is nothing short of impressive. However, over the last couple of years, he has turned what seemed like probable victories into losses either by poor positioning, poor luck, or just being beaten by a better rider on the day.
But his win at Mende on the Montee Jalabert was, for me, the highlight of the tour so far. His audacity to actually attack some (in theory) much better climbers on that final climb had me out of my chair, then there was the gasp of disappointment when Bettiol bridged the gap across to him. But much like the last couple of seasons in Matthews career, he didn't give up. He stayed calm, bided his time, and put in a perfectly timed attack to distance Bettiol and win the stage.
Jalbert's win on that same airstrip in 1995 has remained one of my favorite TDF moments, but I think Michael Matthew's ride this year eclipsed that.
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Lows of the 2022 Tour de France
The Tour isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There were days when we got downright bummed out on what happened on — or maybe off — the road.
Spencer - Mathieu van der Pulls Out of the Tour
While Wout wowed us in the green jersey and Pidcock came into his own on Alpe d’Huez, the third musketeer was unfortunately anonymous in the Tour de France. Mathieu van der Poel, who rocked the first days of the 2021 Tour never looked like himself this year. Maybe he was just cooked from a month of racing at the Giro d’Italia — is he human after all?! Whatever the explanation, I was bummed he didn’t light up this Tour with his sprint finishes and daring attacks. At least he went out in a blaze of glory, attacking alongside his nemesis van Aert in stage 11 to the fearsome Col du Granon only to retire mid-race.
Bruce - Roglic Crashes (Again) and Abandons Early
Am I becoming a Jumbo fan? Well I’m definitely a Primoz Roglic fan. Until the 2020 Tour, the ski jumper-turned-GC rider was more of a cycling meme than a person to me. Then, when he immediately went to congratulate Pogačar after getting beat on La Planche des Belles Filles, he managed to earn my respect. It was probably the most devastating moment of his career and he reacted with pure class. I would have quit the sport forever.
I went on to follow Roglic through La Vuelta, Liege, and more, and realized that he’s more than a former ski jumper. He’s an absolute animal on a bike. I was ready for fireworks in the 2021 Tour, but he crashed out before things got good. For 2022, I wanted redemption, a showdown ... anything. But on Stage 5, we got … a hay bale. Yup, Roglic hit a rogue piece of road furniture and crashed again. He did help his teammate into yellow later, but he pulled out before Stage 15 to allow his injuries to heal. Luck is definitely not on his side, and unfortunately, I fear he may have missed his chance to win the Tour.
Sully - Caleb Ewan Comes Up Short
Even though this year's Tour route didn't include many stages suited for sprinters, there is always an expectation of a showdown between the fastest sprinters in the world in the biggest race in the world.
But, a rider who wasn't really present for the sprinter showdowns was Caleb Ewan. His 2022 season has been pretty disappointing by his standards, in particular, his disastrous Giro d'Italia and his TDF so far. The crashes and illnesses haven't helped, and now there is the extra pressure that Lotto-Soudal could be relegated out of the World Tour at the end of the season.
That being said, Caleb is still in the race, in last place overall. If he can drag himself through the next two brutal days in the mountains he will have one more chance to redeem his season with a win on the Champs Elysees.
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What do you think were the highs and lows of the 2022 Tour? Let us know in the comments!