The most prestigious cycling race in the world — the Tour de France — begins this weekend with the Grand Depart in Copenhagen, Denmark. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) won the Tour de France in back-to-back years, and the Slovenian wunderkind is the betting favorite at -160 to claim a third-straight yellow jersey heading into the 2022 Le Tour. Jumbo-Visma teammates Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard are both +400 odds to deny Pogacar a third-straight victory in Le Tour.
This year marks the 109th installment of the Tour de France, but it’s the first time the race will take place in Denmark. The first three stages are in Denmark, including a 13.2 km individual time trial in Stage 1.
The 2022 Tour de France has 21 single-day stages spanning 24 days. There are only three rest days scheduled, which makes this race one of the most grueling of all the Grand Tours.
This year’s route clocks in at 3,328 km, making it the shortest tour in nearly 20 years. Even so, it still contains 61 categorized climbs and three individual time trials, including a 25-mile trek in Stage 20 in Rocamadour on July 23, which is the next-to-last stage.
The Tour de France splits this year’s race between two treacherous mountain ranges — the Alps and the Pyrenees. There will be six mountain stages this year, including five summit finishes. On Bastille Day, the peloton will return to the Alpe d’Huez for the first time in four years..
Can Primoz Roglic finally win?
In 2020, Roglic blew the lead heading into Stage 20 when Pogacar snatched away the yellow jersey during a time trial. In 2021, Roglic was expected to dethrone Poagcar, but a gnarly crash in the early stages caused him to drop out when Le Tour reached the first mountain stages.
Roglic comes into this year’s tour on a high note after winning the Criterium du Dauphine, which is a warm-up race and often a precursor to Le Tour.
At age 32, Roglic has a narrow window remaining to win the tour for the first time. As long as he can avoid crashing and remain in the saddle, Roglic has a shot at picking off Pogacar and reaching the top step on the podium when Le Tour concludes in Paris on July 24.
Roglic rides for Jumbo-Visma, the strongest team in the peloton, and has Jonas Vingegaard riding alongside him as a super domestique. When Roglic dropped out of last year’s tour, Vingegaard took over as the team’s primary rider. The young Dane finished second overall and made an impressive debut on Le Tour.
Vingegaard is only 25, but has already finished second in the Dauphine behind Roglic. Vingegaard has plenty more chances to win the yellow jersey, but his mission heading into this year’s tour is to help Roglic win by wearing down Pogacar in the mountains.
American Sepp Kuss from Colorado won a stage in Andorra last year and is also a part of the stacked Jumbo-Visma squad along with Steven Kruijswijk and Wout van Aert, who’s one of the favorites to win Stage 1 in Copenhagen.
No wins for France since 1985
Julian Alaphilippe, a two-time world champion and fan favorite, won’t ride in the peloton this year. Alaphilippe was involved in a horrific crash in Liege-Bastogne-Liege a couple of months ago, and he’s yet to recover from his injuries. He was one of the favorites from France — albeit a long shot — to win this year’s tour.
A French rider hasn’t won Le Tour since Bernard “The Badger” Hinault achieved victory in 1985. Many French cycling fans have simply accepted that a Frenchman will never again win Le Tour, but Alaphilippe energized the fan base over the past few years.
If you’d like to take a flier on a French cyclist this year, keep an eye on Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), and Thibout Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).