The 2022 Tour de France teams were announced a short while ago and there were no surprises. B&B Hotels and TotalEnergies were selected to join Arkea Samsic and Alpecin Fenix, along with the WT teams, of course, on the roads of the 2022 Tour de France.
Compared to the announcement of the route for 2022, this was way more predictable and less exciting.
B&B Hotels – KTM
Starting with the least controversial sporting choice, B&B had a solid Tour performance last year and should 100% be back this year. In fact, they were invited in the past two years and they performed well in both. In 2020, Bryan Coquard carried the team with 7 top-10 stage finishes, and, last year, Franck Bonnamour won the overall combativity award, along with a 22th place in GC.
Prize money isn’t the be all end all of Tour de France participation but it often is a good barometer to gauge a teams’ impact on the race. In the 2021 edition, B&B finished in 13th place in that ranking, in front of Astana and Groupama-FDJ, for example. In 2020, they were 15th. So, they have been consistently outperforming other invited teams along with some World Tour teams in that ranking.
On the road itself, as touched upon previously, B&B Hotels has also been up to the task. Last year, in addition to the 22nd place overall and, most importantly, the most aggressive rider award, Bonnamour also placed 4 times in the top-10 of stages, highlighting his spectacular form in last year’s edition. Quentin Pacher added another top-10 stage finish to the team’s balance. The team in general was very active in breakaways, showing off the sponsor and animating the race. And this was in a year where their main rider, Bryan Coquard, severely underperformed. The French sprinter that moved at the end of last season to Cofidis to replace Elia Viviani, did not repeat his fantastic 2020 performance, and didn’t even show up near the front of any sprint in 2021. His best result was a 16th place before arriving outside of the limit in stage 9.
This wasn’t the case in 2020. As mention, that year, Coquard placed 7 times in the top-10 of stages, and was 4th overall in the green jersey standings. That year, Pacher added 3 more top-10 stage finishes, and Pierre Roland 2 (including a 2nd place finish at Sarran, in a stage won by breakout star Marc Hirshi). Pierre Rolland was also 18th in the overall standings. All of this without mentioning that B&B was one of the most active teams on breakaways in that edition.
So, one can say that, in both editions, B&B Hotels outperformed a lot of Wildcard and, even, World Tour teams. In 2020 their leaders (Coquard and Rolland) performed quite well and the team rode them to a successful Tour de France. Last year, despite their leaders (severely) underperforming they still managed noteworthy results. In my opinion, this is a tremendous credit to the team and its management, and resulted (rightly so) in another invitation for 2022.
Jean-René Bernaudeau. A great rider during his time (late 1970s – early 1980s), who won the white jersey of the 1979 Tour, finished it several times in the top-10 and even climbed on the podium of the Vuelta a España once, in 1978 (3th place).
A great rider indeed. And an awful directeur-sportif. God awful. Sour too. Last season he effectively casted doubts of Tadej Pogacar’s performances without any proof to offer. He is so detached from winning anything that the very concept of winning does not compute in his brain. Understandable, for someone that is still living off of Thomas Voeckler’s and Pierre Rolland’s exploits more than 10 years ago (an example of that is pictured above).
I am not saying that you should or should not be suspicious of Pogacar’s performances but I am saying that someone whose notoriety stems 100% from the sport of cycling, should be way more careful discussing such matters. This article presents Bernaudeau’s comments as well as Julien Jurdie’s, one of AG2R’s assistant sporting directors. A set of comments is purposely vague to the point of being inflammatory, in my mind, while the other is thoughtful and non-committal, exactly what you want from somebody that has a duty to defend the sport while not ignoring its past.
I could be kinder to Bernaudeau given that French teams underperform in general, but from Bonjour to TotalEnergies his teams have been among the worst compared to his resources. And to be fair, his resources aren’t huge. But he still manages to underperform.
Since Voeckler last won a stage in the Tour (2012), TotalEnergies won: 1 stage in the Tour (Lilian Calmejane in 2017), 1 stage in the Vuelta (Lilian Calmejane in 2016), 4 stages in the Paris Nice, and 2 stages in the Dauphiné (haven’t won there since 2013). This is in nearly 10 years. Since 2018, Cofidis has 2 stage wins in the Vuelta and 1 in the Giro. By 3 different riders.
In the last two years only Qhubeka-NextHash (NTT, in 2020) made less money in the Tour than TotalEnergies. And they no longer exist.
I’m not putting Team TotalEnergies’ wildcard in question here. Even they knew that their chronic incompetence could make the Tour organizers raise questions over their future wildcard appearances in the race. That’s a part of why they went to get Peter Sagan. There is zero chance that a French team that has Peter Sagan in its ranks would miss the Tour in 2022.
It makes all the sense in the world to have Team TotalEnergies be part of the 2022 Tour de France teams. In purely sporting terms, though, I would easily rather have given a chance to Team Uno-X.