2022 Tour de France preview: everything you need to know about the route
Profiles and details of all 21 stages.
Profiles and details of all 21 stages.
Twenty-one stages across four countries. Sky-high bridges, cantankerous cobbles and mythical mountains. It is, and could only be, the Tour de France. The race that dominates all others, the event synonymous with professional cycling. It’s impossible to speak too superlatively about it and this year’s edition looks set to be a cracker.
Copenhagen is the host of the 2022 Grand Départ, an opening day time trial for the first time since Düsseldorf in 2017. Two more Danish stages will take the peloton west and south towards the German border before a transfer day to Dunkirk.
The race then heads south via a Roubaix cobbled stage, a brief jaunt over to Belgium, and then the first summit finish on La Super Planche Des Belles Filles, a return to the scene of Tadej Pogačar’s usurping of Primož Roglič two years ago, albeit with a finish further up the mountain and without time trial bikes.
We then transfer westwards to the Pyrenees for a final mountain GC showdown with summit finishes at Peyragudes and Hautacam on the menu.
Finally, a relatively long penultimate stage time trial just to keep the nerves jangling amongst the overall contenders until the final kilometre of proper racing. A traditional Sunday finish on the Champs-Élysées wraps things up to celebrate the yellow jersey and give the sprinters a reward for three fairly inhospitable weeks for fast men at the French Grand Tour.
As Tadej Pogačar aims for a third yellow jersey in a row and potential dethroners line up behind him, countless storylines will unfold across three weeks of racing in Denmark, France, Belgium and Switzerland. Here is the route upon which all this will happen, the intricacies of each day, and the likely contenders for daily victory.
Nice one Christain Prudhomme, looks like it’s going to be, how you say, ‘un doozy’.
God morgen! A year later than planned but the Tour de France has finally arrived in Denmark. A pan-flat, 13.2km time trial in Copenhagen will offer the time trial specialists a chance at the yellow jersey. Riders will pass iconic landmarks such as the Tivoli Gardens and the Little Mermaid. A few tricky corners make this a technical course, but, let’s be honest, when is a time trial course not described as technical? Remember that perfectly straight time trial from the Tour de Whatever a few years ago? Nope.
Quick-Step AlphaVinyl’s Kasper Asgreen will be a home favourite and the most likely Dane to take a win on home soil, as long as he’s recovered from injury. Trek-Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen has apparently been preparing meticulously and is also one to watch.
But they will face stiff competition. Whether Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) or Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) make the selection is still up in the air, while Dennis’ teammate Wout van Aert could have a first showdown with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). The Dutchman is no TT slouch and will be looking to at least keep himself in with a chance of taking yellow at a later date. Meanwhile, overall contenders Primož Roglič (Jumb0-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) should perform capably, and Groupama-FDJ’s Stefan Küng? He’ll be fourth, obviously.
The first road stage of the race traces the western coast of Zealand (old, not New), the island upon which the metropolitan area of Copenhagen sits. It is also the fourth most populous island in Europe, so that’s something to think about. And you will have time to ponder due to the fairly flat route, with three small classified climbs, that should set up like a ‘normal’ day at the Tour. That is until the final 15km when the peloton has to cross The Great Belt Bridge to get to the finish line. It will look fantastic but that will matter little to the peloton, who will be stressed by an exposed bit of road 18 km long and 65 m off the ground. It’s an understatement to say it could get windy.
We should have the first big showdown of 2022’s headline sprinters. Quick-Step AlphaVinyl’s Fabio Jakobsen, Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, BikeExchange-Jayco’s Dylan Groenewegen, Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sam Bennett. Van Aert and Van der Poel will likely also be in the mix, and we might as well have that as a given for most stages this Tour, at least so we can save on digital ink. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux’s Alexander Kristoff? Iain obviously thinks so.
The final stage before we say ‘farvel’ to Denmark. A flat offering on the Jutland peninsula (the bit of the country actually connected to mainland Europe, we’re learning a lot about Denmark aren’t we?)
Three fourth category climbs punctuate the route, to intermittently wake you up from your Sunday afternoon nap as Pierre Rolland sprints for one KOM point three times in a row. Less wind is expected en route to the finish line in Sønderborg, so another chance for the sprinters to duke it out is expected.
With Sønderborg being a 45-minute drive from the German border (a more direct, wetter route can be found across the Flensborg Fjord) are there any Deutsche riders who could have a say as the Tour finds itself the closest to Germany since the 2017 Dusseldorf Grand Départ?
Long gone are the days of Marcel Kittel, and Pascal Ackermann will be absent and hasn’t quite filled his elder’s shoes. Could John Degenkolb (DSM) race like it’s still 2017 and bag a win? Unlikely. Maybe pin your slim hopes on a Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) late surge snatch and grab.
Finalement, La Belle France! Well, Dunkirk and Calais aren’t exactly the first destinations on any tourist’s wish list, but they’ll do for now. We go port-to-port via an inland route.
A litter of category four climbs lie between the start and finish, and although they’re all only around a kilometre in length they’re punchy enough to provide a launchpad to attackers.
The Côte du Cap Blanc-Nez, or white-nose cape, is supposedly a French equivalent to the British white cliffs of Dover on the other side of the channel, and acts as the final categorised climb of the day. At 900 m long it’s the shortest of the day and at an average gradient of 7.5%, it’s the second steepest. With a little over 10 km to go, it perhaps offers the best chance to any prestigious interlopers.
Mathieu van der Poel could make another bid for freedom (and a stage win/yellow jersey combo) as could Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step AlphaVinyl) if he’s fully healed after his Liège crash. Only four days into the race, it will take someone with the zeal of those two to hold off the sprint teams and a warp-speed peloton.
It’s been four years since the Tour’s last ‘Roubaix’ stage and stage 5’s offering is what race director Christian Prudhomme has described as “the most acrobatic challenge” of the opening week. Maybe the translation has added callousness, but the journey across the cobbles will, unfortunately, likely wreck at least one GC hopeful’s chances.
Both Pogačar and Roglič took time in the spring to get some bone-juddering experience under their belts, and of the two Roglič was the more impressive. With 11 cobbled sectors packed into the second half of the course, it will be a nervy day for all GC riders and their teams.
In 2018, the top 5 consisted of Degenkolb, Greg Van Aermaet (Ag2r Citroën), Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step AlphaVinyl), Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies), all of whom will be present on the start line. But that was the pre-Van era. Expect to see the rest of the race scrambling to hang on to the coattails of Vans Aert and Der Poel as they steam away up the road, gliding over the cobbles. That is, if Van Aert isn’t saved to guide both Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard safely through a major hazard en route to yellow.
Other contenders? Politt again could make a good go of it, as could Gilbert’s teammate Florian Vermeersch, both previous runners-up at Roubaix. Stefan Küng and Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious) could be good outside bets too.
A bruised and battered peloton will set off from Binche, Belgium, the third of four countries the race will visit, for a day that starts out in the Ardennes. Soon they traverse back into France, and after a slog of more than 200 km, the bunch will arrive at the third category Côte de Pulventeux, 800m in length with an average gradient of 12.3% with just 6 km remaining until the line. The finish in Longwy, up the Côte des Religieuses (1.6km, 5.8%), should also see fireworks, a simply tantalising finale.
Another Alaphilippe sort of day? Quick-Step AlphaVinyl will be hopeful of a righting a poor spring campaign saved by Remco Evenepoel in Liège with victory when the Tour visits their home country. The likes of Mohorič and Dylan Teuns will also be stage hunting for Bahrain-Victorious. Michael Woods or Jakob Fuglsang for Israel – Premier Tech?
After the cobbles and a day before and La Super Planche des Belles Filles, today is the likeliest so far that a break makes it to the line – so will depend on who makes that selection. Groupama-FDJ’s Valentin Madouas? Trek-Segafredo’s Toms Skujins? Ag2r Citroën’s Benoît Cosnefroy? Should be a corker.
Here we go then, the first mountain test of the race. After the exposed bridges, the perilous cobbles, and the troublesome little bergs, comes a challenge where luck gives way to legs.
Two third-category climbs provide something of a warm-up before the first summit finish of the Tour up La Super Planche des Belles Filles – the highest bit of road at the only ski resort in the Haute Saône region. 7.6 km in length at an average gradient of 8.2%, we will hopefully see the first blows exchanged uphill between the GC riders. Will the Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma be able to isolate Tadej Pogačar or will the Slovenian simply demolish the competition at the first time of asking?
The middle section of the climb is the steepest with gradients of around 10%, before another final ramp of above 12% near the finish line. Keep your fingers crossed for a belter of a finale and pray the favourites don’t keep their cards close to their chest in the first week, simply looking to not lose the Tour on the first uphill struggle.
A very good climber, surely.
Another stage, another journey outside French borders, this time to Switzerland. Moving down through the Jura mountains sees the bunch tackle a few lesser categorised climbs on the way to the punchy finish at the Lausanne Olympic stadium, which not only hosted the finale of the 1954 football World Cup but also concerts from Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson.
This is one of those stage profiles that seems to have breakaway written on it, and if the teams with the requisite punchier riders get their men in the move then expect to see them battle it out for the stage win.
Given that by stage eight the whole complexion of the race will be unrecognisable from any pre-Copenhagen predictions how about some adjacent Lausanne trivia? It’s the final resting place of fashion designer Coco Chanel, who lived in the city on Lake Geneva for 10 years to escape criminal charges of collaboration during World War II. The more you know!
We stay in Switzerland for the start of stage 9 in Aigle, home to the UCI headquarters, where David Lappartient makes sure cycling retains its squeaky clean image. Don’t expect any riders to get popped today! Not that that happens anymore…anyway, today marks “the first authentic mountain test” as the race makes its way to the Alps.
The final 50km features two first-category climbs. Firstly, the Col de la Croix, 8.1km at 7.6%, before a descent back down and through Aigle before the 15.4km-long Pas de Mogrins at 6.1%, the summit less than 10km from the finish line.
A Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) sort of day, you say? I couldn’t agree more. Or maybe Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan)? Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco)? Could even be one for Swiss rider Gino Mäder, or, now here me out, Groupama-FDJ’s Aussie Michael Storer.
After a well-deserved rest day, it’s one for the television cameras. Expect box office views of Lake Geneva, stunning mountains and sweeping valleys as the peloton transfers south from Morzine to Megeve, finishing on the Altiport that hosted the final stage of the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné.
The result that day? Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss the victor, Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) second and Pogačar third. Roglič, who’d held the jersey before that final stage 5, didn’t take the start, so rather than having bad memories of Megeve, he has none, but will be hoping for a better day than two years ago nonetheless.
The climb to the altiport is a long one, 19.2km at 4.1%.
With two HC summit finishes looming in the coming days, the break may be given the keys once again, Giulio Ciccone or Simon Yates to have a crack here?
Here we go then. The second category hairpins up Montvernier will get everyone settled in for what will be a huge day of climbing.
First up is the Col du Télégraphe (11.9km at 7.1%) en route to the Galibier (17.7km at 6.9%). We’re not done yet, though, as the peloton will tackle the first of two consecutive HC summit finishes, today it’s the Col du Granon Serre Chevalier, 11.3km long at an average gradient of 9.2%.
Will a breakaway survive? Will Pogačar launch a huge attack on the Galibier and solo to the finish line, taking a commanding lead in the yellow jersey? Or, with Alpe d’Huez tomorrow, will the riders play it safe?
A stage starting in Briançon and finishing atop Alpe d’Huez while also taking in the Galibier (again) and the Col de la Croix de Fer. On Bastille Day!? You don’t get much more Tour de France than this. And this stage has heritage too, an almost exact replica of the same route from 1986, when Bernard Hinault was the winner on the day after his famous duel with Greg LeMond.
There will be plenty of stationary trainers in use at the start. Almost immediately, the peloton tackles the Galibier once again from the other side, going back on themselves, swooping down past the Col du Télégraphe this time, through the valley and up to the Col de la Croix de Fer. The first two classified climbs of the day see the peloton going uphill for 52km at an average gradient of around 5.2%. Then there’s 40km of respite as the bunch descends down onto the flat run-up to Alpe d’Huez. The Alpe is 13.8km long at an average gradient of 8.1%.
Geraint Thomas was the victor last time the Tour went up this mythical climb, the Welshman clad in the yellow jersey. Should Pogačar be in yellow, you can bet he’ll want to add to his Tour mythology with a similar statement. If the break is allowed to contest the most prized win of the race? Groupama-FDJ’s David Gaudu.
The Alps done with, now the peloton will be relieved to open the road book and finally see a flatter profile.
Today is a 193km run from Bourg d’Oisans to Saint-Etienne with two second category and one third category climb littered throughout the day. A gradual rise up to the finale and the finish line is ever so slightly uphill.
After days of suffering in the mountains, this will likely be a day for the sprinters, a reward for their work on gradients not suited to their talents. How many, and who of the fast men will still be in the race though? Will some teams ramp the pace up over the climbs to drop the purer sprinters, either dispensing with them for good or forcing a leg-sapping chase? Caleb Ewan could prosper here, as could Van Aert and Van der Poel, of course, with key green jersey points up for grabs.
A lumpy day out as the peloton makes its way through the departments of Loire, Haute-Loire and Lozère. A day that screams breakaway for the riders who have kept their powder dry for the past two weeks. Two pairs of third category climbs bookend the stage before the finale, which will see the peloton tackle the Côte de la Croix Neuve Montée Jalabert, only 3km long but at 10.2%.
Can Esteban Chaves make it stick from the break? Dylan Teuns? Romain Bardet? Will there be any GC movement in the final kilometres?
A sprint stage to bring the second week of racing to a close, some pleasant, relaxing Sunday viewing after the excitement of the Alps.
The riders will set out for a hilly 200km from Rodez to Carcassonne, a couple of category three climbs for the day’s break to sort out before a downhill run from the Côte des Cammazes.
Mark Cavendish and Michael Mørkøv managed a 1-2 when the stage finished here last year to equal Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins. This year, the Danish lead-out star will likely have Fabio Jakobsen as his fast man, who will be under pressure to win a stage if he hasn’t already, given the all-time Tour stage winner missed out on a place at his expense.
After today, there will only be two more days for the sprinters, on stages 19 and 21, so everyone will be in the hunt. After the finish, ahead of the final rest day, let’s hope the riders are allowed to treat themselves to a Cassoulet. They’ve definitely earned it.
Following the rest day, it’s straight into the Pyrenees for more mountain action. The climbing is backloaded today as the peloton makes its way to Foix. The first of the two first category climbs is the Port de Lers, 11.4 km at 7%, followed by the Mur de Péguère, 9.3 km at 7.9%, the site of sabotage in the 2012 Tour.
A descent into the finish could offer downhill maniacs like Matej Mohorič the chance to pull off something spectacular. Let’s just hope for no finger-to-the-mouth shushing again this year.
A short one at only 130 km, and the first 50km are flat. Let’s hope, then, that we see a proper race over four categorised climbs packed into 80 km.
First up is the Col d’Aspin, 12 km at 6.5%, immediately followed by the second category Hourquette d’Ancizan, 8.2 km at 5.1%. Then there’s a dip down into the valley before the final two first category climbs. The Col de Val Louron-Azet is 10.7 km long with an average gradient of 6.8%. Finally, it’s the summit finish of Peyragudes, 8 km long at 7.8%.
Who won the last two times Peyragudes has featured in the race? Romain Bardet in 2017 and Alejandro Valverde in 2012. While both riders are still active, the yellow jerseys on those stage are not, Fabio Aru and Bradley Wiggins. Peyragudes is also the third altiport to feature in the 2022 Tour, Prudhomme must be a fan.
Surely a day for the GC, and the riders will have a chance to pray for their chances in Lourdes before the start, hoping for a miracle on the 143km to Hautacam.
It’s the final mountain test of the Tour as the bunch tackles the Col d’Aubisque (16.4 km at 7.1%) and the Col de Spandelles (10.3 km at 8.3%) before yet another summit finish up Hautacam – 13.6km long at an average gradient of 7.8%. If Pogačar is in yellow, expect his rivals to throw everything and the kitchen sink at him (not yet confirmed whether the model of sink will be provided by domestic goods experts Bora-Hansgrohe).
Expect a final GC battle, which will see the contenders for the overall fight it out for the stage win, before Miguel Ángel López, lying in fifth, sneaks off the front to win the stage and sneak himself up into the podium spots.
Another gimme for the sprinters after tackling the Pyrenees. Only two fourth category climbs today, so a proper day for the fast men, finally. After 189km the race arrives in Cahors, which is home to the castle of Cayx, owned by the Danish royal family. Nice work from the Tour organisers tying a neat bow in the Denmark-ness of this race.
The final kilometres once again rise towards the line, so if Caleb Ewan is still here (he’s only finished 2 of the 9 Grand Tours he’s started) then he could be a shoe-in for the final dress rehearsal before the Big One on the Champs-Élysées.
An intriguing, leg-sapping final time trial to decide the yellow jersey once and for all before the arrival of the race in Paris.
40km is as long as we’ve seen the Tour’s races against the clock in recent years and will hopefully throw up some final actual-race-day drama.
The majority of the course is pretty flat before two small climbs in the final 5km, just to amp up the pressure if the GC is still close. The Côte de Magès is first, 1.6 km at 4.7%, before an uphill final stretch to the finish line. The Côte de l’Hospitalet is 1.5 km long with an average gradient of 7.8%. With the Netflix cameras in tow, ASO have designed this one for potential fireworks. Fingers crossed.
With these third-week time trials, it often comes down to who is the freshest rather than time trialling ability. Maybe the likes of Kasper Asgreen will have held something back over the final week, or maybe it will be a straight-up Pog vs Rog bout to decide the yellow jersey via stage victory.
And here we are. After 20 days of racing, three rest days, four countries and nearly 2,000 miles, the final stage.
Before the men get underway, the women will race the Paris circuit to kick off the Tour de France Femmes.
Then, to the west, the hommes will set off from the Paris La Défense Arena for congratulatory champagne and to soak in what they’ve done the past three weeks.
One fourth category climb lies just after Versailles before the peloton loops back toward the city centre, and the laps of the Champs-Élysées begin.
Hopefully many sprinters have survived a non-sprinter friendly edition to contest what is often called the fast men’s world championship. Will Wout van Aert win again? More than likely.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the bridge in Copenhagen was 250 m off the ground, which is obviously insanely high and not true. It’s the height of the support columns that are 250 high. The bridge is 65 m off the water. Sorry about that.