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Tour de France 2022 recap: Passing the baton in the best way possible

25 Jul 2022

The 2022 Tour was one of the all-time classics. And it’s not over yet. We recap the men’s race alongside our Stage 21 gallery

Words Will Strickson Photos Godingimages

It’s over. Or is it? The 2022 men’s Tour de France came to a close yesterday evening and while we’re used to post-race blues, this year I’m writing reflections of one Tour while watching another unfold.

This year was always going to be special, with the inaugural Tour de France Femmes beginning on the Champs-Élysées on the same day the men finished on the same circuit, but what better way to kick off a historic women’s race than a historic men’s race?

The past three weeks of racing may have been the best Tour de France I’ve seen.

While Tours past have had iconic highlights, to have 21 memorable days of racing like we’ve been treated to is insane. And it’s not just me that thinks so.

It began with an incredible Grand Départ in Denmark with pretty much the entire population of the country turning out to cheer on the race and the wealth of super-talented Danish riders set to light it up.

In case you’d forgotten, Stage 1: ‘I’m just a farmer’s son from Belgium’, Stage 2: a big bridge and Fabio Jakobsen, Stage 3: Magnus Cort relishing polka dots and Dylan Groenewegen. A solid start but in truth it was the crowds that made it so special.

The first week proper was when it started to get mental.

Wout van Aert’s solo win in the maillot jaune on Stage 4; the cobbles on Stage 5; Van Aert's breakaway in yellow and Tadej Pogačar the puncheur on Stage 6; La Super Planche des Belles Filles on Stage 7; Van Aert's first win in green ahead of Pogačar on Stage 8 and Big Bob Jungels on Stage 9.

Take a breath, because somehow we were only just getting started. Week two was when we knew we were seeing something truly on another level.

Stage 10 saw the first La Dernière Rénovation protest and Magnus Cort’s photo finish. Stage 11 completely blew apart all expectations, Jumbo-Visma attacking Pogačar left and right before Jonas Vingegaard went utterly nuclear on the Col du Granon to finally crack the Slovenian and take yellow.

Stage 12 – even writing this now I can't believe how lucky we are – Tom flippin’ Pidcock putting on a clinic on the Galibier descent and Alpe d'Huez climb while Chris Froome rolled back the years.

Stage 13 had Mads Pedersen finally getting his Tour de France win ahead of another British hero in Fred Wright. On Stage 14 we were treated to an incredible breakaway victory for Michael Matthews and on Stage 15 Jasper Philipsen finally got his Tour de France stage win after eight top three finishes.

Finally, week three.

Hugo Houle won for his brother. Tadej and his teammates took control. Van Aert and Vingegaard cracked Pogačar again on Hautacam. Christophe Laporte outfoxed the sprinters. Van Aert won the final time-trial and Jumbo-Visma had three consecutive wins and confirmed wins of yellow, green and polka dot jerseys. And Jasper Philipsen dominated the Champs-Élysées bunch sprint after the women’s race began.

I could watch the 2022 Tour de France every day for the rest of my life and never get bored.

Remember in 2019 when everyone thought Egan Bernal would win the Tour for the foreseeable future? Remember in 2020 and 2021 when everyone thought Tadej Pogačar would win the Tour for the foreseaable future? After the 2022 race we just don’t know because we are so blessed with a bunch of incredibly talented – and attack-minded – riders.

Many were writing off the Tour’s future a year ago as Pogačar was just so dominant but Jonas Vingegaard didn’t just win because of his team in 2022, he was clearly the best rider.

To misquote Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner:

‘That Tour de France, eh? That Tour de France, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time, and sink back into the swamp. I think the cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists demands it adheres to some of its rules.

‘But it’s always waiting there, just around the corner. Ready to make its way back through the sludge and smash through the glass ceiling, looking better than ever. Yeah, that Tour de France, it seems like it’s faded away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.’

Let’s do it all again… now, with the Tour de France Femmes. I love 2022.

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