Sport

cobblestones, a return to Alpe d’Huez, a little nostalgia and more time

“Whatever care you take in setting up the course, you don’t write the Tour de France scenario by drawing a map. “ By unveiling, Thursday, October 14, the menu of the 109e edition, the director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, offered a variant of this famous sentence heard every July:

“The organizer proposes, the runners dispose. “

From 1er on July 24, 2022, the peloton will have a varied playground, between (possible) borders on the Danish shores, a cobblestone stage the day after the return to France, but also six finishes at the top and a backstop. 40-kilometer watch, an unprecedented length since 2014.

To go up the Champs-Elysées in yellow three weeks after a given start from Copenhagen, versatility will therefore be required. Not enough to take away his eternal young man’s smile from Tadej Pogacar, two outgoing winner at 23 and who, according to the latest news, knows how to do everything on a bike.

“We have everything: sprints, mountains, time, but also curbs in anticipation. I’m going to have to do a lot of reconnaissance to understand them as well as possible, it’s quite exciting. There will be a lot of tension, especially in the curbstones, when gaps are created at 80 km / h… It can get very tense! “, warns the Slovenian.

“The favorites will be neck and neck from the first days”

In recent years, Christian Prudhomme and his “mister course”, Thierry Gouvenou (technical director of the Tour), have had only one word in their mouths: surprise. The idea is to avoid the purring of a first week reserved for sprinters and… nap lovers. “With this course, all the favorites will be neck and neck from the first days”, promises Christian Prudhomme in an interview with The Team.

Blasters like Wout Van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Julian Alaphilippe (who says “Very inspired” by the first week) should help to settle the race from the Boulonnais mountains (4e stage), then the next day on the 19 kilometers of cobblestones before a finish judged at the entrance of the famous Trouée d’Arenberg.

In 2021, the marathon stage (249 km between Vierzon and Le Creusot) had been a long fireworks display; the organization is hoping for the same celebrations between Binche and Longwy, with a hilly final after 220 kilometers of this 7e stage.

Climbers will not wait long before descending the small plateau. Classic of the Prudhomme era, the Belles-Filles board is offered in a “super” version the next day with its unpaved finish over 800 meters, an exceptional wall at 20%.

Two nods to the 1986 Tour

In recent years, this new giant of the Vosges had stolen the show from Alpe d’Huez. Snubbed since 2018, the 21 bends of the Isère resort will rise again at the finish of the 12e stage after a course identical to that of the stage won by Bernard Hinault, hand in hand with Greg LeMond, in 1986. An idea strongly expressed at the time by the boss of their team, La Vie claire, a certain Bernard Tapie .

The day before July 14, the organization is offering a finish at the Col du Granon and its 2,413 m, an unprecedented finish since… 1986. That day, Bernard Hinaut wore the yellow jersey for the last time in his rich career. Present at the Palais des Congrès, the five-time winner seemed to appreciate the wink and the continuation of the festivities with three full-bodied stages in the Pyrenees, including an arrival in Lourdes-Hautacam (July 21). Slopes which summon up the memories of Luc Leblanc emerging from the fog as a winner in 1994 as much as of the astonishing demonstration of the Dane Bjarne Riis, two years later.

The digested Pyrenees, it will be, for the contenders for the yellow jersey, to keep under the pedal for the Rocamadour time trial (the second after the 13 km one served as an aperitif in Copenhage). “The goal is obviously to maintain the suspense until the end, to make sure that everything remains possible”, hopes Christian Prudhomme about this chrono traced around the magnificent Marian shrine in Lot.

In 2020, Tadej Pogacar had overthrown the Tour and his compatriot Primoz Roglic in this exercise at the Belles-Filles plank. Two years later, the three-time winner of the Tour of Spain hopes to take revenge. But he is not the only one. The Egan Bernals, Richard Carapaz, Jonas Vingegaard, and why not Thibaut Pinot or Romain Bardet, still have nine months ahead of them to study, dissect and dream of this journey.

Read also Eight stages, white roads and a justice of the peace for the Tour de France women

William Dupuy

Independent political analyst working in this field for 14 years, I analyze political events from a different angle.

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