My first thoughts when I analyzed the 2022 Tour de France route (keeping in mind that some stage profiles still haven’t come out) is that it looks very exciting from the last day of the first week onwards. My main worry is that no contender is knocked out of the race on the cobbles of stage 5. In my opinion, this is the worst part of the route, and the abundance of tough mountain finishes is the best. Below I leave some more detailed thoughts on the 2022 route of the Tour de France:
Having a 13km prologue to create echelons in the general classification from the start is useful to calm the peloton down during the first week by removing a lot of would be first week yellow jersey hopefuls from the conversation. I understand this especially after a year in which Primoz Roglic, a major favorite, was forced to abandon the race due to a crash. It is understandable that the organization want to have a calmer first week in terms of crashes and a long prologue will put a lot of teams out of reach of the yellow jersey for the first week. We can debate whether this is good or bad but it’s at least understandable.
Why then have nearly 20km of cobbles on stage 5? Did everyone forget 2014 when we were treated to Nibali winning the Tour on another stage 5 on the cobbles because he put 2 minutes on the remaining general classification contenders + Chris Froome abandoned the race due to crashes? While I appreciate Nibali’s, Fuglsang’s and Astana’s spectacular performances that day that built the foundation for a 7 minute and 39 seconds overall win in Paris, I do not want a repeat of this scenario. I would take a boring stage 5 and 20 other exciting stages than the reverse. In my view, this is the low point of the 2022 Tour de France route.
Only 53km of time trials are very few, in my opinion, but since 2009 (this is when it became more obvious, during the Contador vs Schleck era) ASO figured out that they could reduce the length of the time trials depending on the contenders’ characteristics. More time trials would mean that recent Il Lombardia winner, Tadej Pogacar and Roglic would have an even bigger advantage on their opponents, which would make the Tour less exciting. Anyway, 53km is much more than the 2017-2020 period, 4 years that had 131km of time trials combined. Just to put this into perspective, 2007 alone had 117km.
The lack of a team time trial is positive in my opinion. While I personally really like this discipline, it makes even more difficult for a small team to compete which is why I’m not upset it was excluded from the parcours.
I liked the first weeks from the past with the sprinters battling it out for the yellow jersey but also understand that for a lot of people this first week for the sprinters made it for boring TV which is why ASO is trying (and succeeding) to spice up the first week. The 2022 edition is no different, with only six total stages considered “flat” by the organization, and only two of these in the first week. Overall, it’s not going to be an easy Tour for the sprinters, especially for those who can’t easily get up the easiest climbs.
There are a lot of really hard mountain finishes in this Tour: stage 7 at the Planche des Belles Filles (mountain finish), stage 9 at Pas de Morgins (10km from the finish), stage 11 at the Col du Granon (mountain finish), stage 12 at the mythical Alpe d’Huez (mountain finish), stage 16 at the Mur de Péguére (25km from the finish), stage 17 at the Peyragourdes (mountain finish), and, finally, stage 18 at the Hautacam (mountain finish).
Only two stages reach or surpass 200km: stage 6 (220km), and stage 15 (200km). There is a trend of stages, and especially mountain stages, getting shorter which is fantastic for the riders, spectators, and tv audiences.
Stage 19 after the last mountain finish and before the final time trial is a flat stage. I don’t think this makes any sense whatsoever: after three mountain stages in the Pyrenees where viewers will (hopefully) be on the edge of their seats, a flat stage before a time trial will be useless at best and a huge “mood killer” at worst, in my opinion.
As usual, regardless of the route: excited for the Tour!