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The first nine days of the 2022 Tour de France yielded plenty of excitement and memorable performances. We had displays of dominance from Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), we had some great breakaway stage wins, and we had some fierce sprint battles.
But as ‘week 2’ of the race gets underway, there’s plenty more to look forward to. Here’s what’s got us excited about stages 10-15 of the 2022 Tour de France.
A trio of tough mountain stages
The riders have tackled some sizeable climbs in the Tour so far, but nothing compared with what’s to come. In fact, week 2 begins with three tough mountain stages back-to-back, to really test those post-rest-day legs.
Tuesday’s stage 10 concludes with a 19.2 km climb to the finish line; stage 11 features four sizeable climbs including back-to-back HC climbs to close out the stage; and stage 12 features three HC climbs, including the Col du Galibier right out of the start, and Alpe d’Huez to finish.
That’s three really important days for the GC contenders, and plenty of potential entertainment for those of us watching.
Jumbo-Visma is yet to seriously test Tadej Pogačar’s climbing
Sure, Jonas Vingegaard has been on the attack a couple times, and for brief moments he’s looked like he’s had Pogačar in trouble. But we haven’t had any properly long climbs yet, where Jumbo-Visma can really take it to the two-time winner.
Vingegaard seems like Jumbo-Visma’s Plan A at this point, but Primož Roglič isn’t so far behind (2:52) that Pogačar will let him set off alone. If Jumbo-Visma is going to beat Pogačar, they’ll likely need to attack one after the other in the mountains, forcing Pogačar to chase. We haven’t seen that yet, but the next three stages could provide the opportunity to do so.
It might be that Pogačar is just strong enough to overcome whatever Jumbo-Visma throws at him, but, for the sake of the race, let’s hope he’s truly put to the test and he has to fight hard for his yellow jersey.
Ineos Grenadiers are yet to play their cards too
Like Jumbo-Visma, Ineos is yet to attack in anger at this year’s Tour. The British team has always had numbers in the GC group on the tough stages, but we haven’t yet seen any proactive attempts to capitalise on that position. If Ineos is going to win the Tour, they’ll need to start looking for opportunities to erode Pogačar’s advantage. Why not start in the next three days?
One thing working in Ineos’ favour is that it has three riders inside the top seven overall. Geraint Thomas is third at 1:17, Adam Yates is fourth at 1:25, and Tom Pidcock is seventh at 1:46. Like Jumbo-Visma, Ineos will need to use those numbers to good effect if they’re going to unseat Pogačar. Ideally for those of us watching, that looks like Ineos riders attacking one after another, forcing Pogačar to chase. But maybe it involves one of those riders getting up the road somehow.
Regardless, Ineos isn’t a team to sit back and let Pogačar cruise through to victory in Paris. They’re not going to be happy with third if they have a chance of a better finish than that. Hopefully we see Ineos really taking it to Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates in the days ahead, maybe even in concert with Jumbo-Visma?
The sprinters finally get another chance
This year’s Tour route isn’t particularly friendly to the sprinters, with only a handful of genuine opportunities. Two of those opportunities are coming up in the second week.
Stages 13 and stage 15 are both rolling days with a handful of smaller climbs, so they’re not exactly pan-flat, regulation sprint stages. But both stages should end in a bunch sprint, particularly given the teams of the sprinters will be keen to make the most of their limited opportunities.
Of the sprinters at this year’s Tour, a few have already had success: Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco), Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Wout van Aert. There’s a handful of sprinters, though, that are yet to notch a stage win, and they’ll be desperate to do so. To name just a couple: Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who thought he’d won stage 4, and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), who hasn’t had the best time in Grand Tours this season.
After these two sprint stages, just two more opportunities remain for the fast men: stage 19 into Cahors, and the final stage on the Champs-Élyseés …
The battle for the KOM jersey is just heating up
Wout van Aert seems to have the points classification all but sewn up, but the battle for the KOM jersey is shaping up nicely. Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) did a wonderful job to secure the polka dots early – particularly on home soil – but now that we’re into the proper climbs, the competition is starting to heat up.
Simon Geschke (Cofidis) currently leads with 19 points, but he’s just a single point ahead of stage 9 winner Bob Jungels (Ag2r-Citroën). Another three riders are within eight points of Jungels: Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Cort, and Pogačar.
There are a lot of KOM points on offer over the next three stages, and by the time the race reaches Alpe d’Huez on stage 12, we’ll have a clearer idea of who the real contenders are for the polka dot jersey.
More than a few people will be hoping that Pinot is in the mix. The Frenchman nearly managed a stage win on Sunday, and he’ll be keen to try again soon, no doubt. Plus, the KOM classification was a pre-race goal of his, so you’d have to imagine he’ll be up the road in the days to come.