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It’s all in the numbers.
How could we forget the fan that caused the crash at the Tour de France, or the hordes of spectators that lined the streets at the world championships?
Then there was the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes and the first wet edition of the men’s race in almost two decades.
- A world championships for the ages: Peloton left in awe of ‘stadium-like’ crowds at Flanders
- Four-month suspended sentence for ‘Opi-Omi’ fan
- Has ASO Tadej Pogačar-proofed the 2022 Tour de France? They’ve sure tried.
There’s plenty to look back on from the last year and VeloNews takes a look at some of the key numbers behind those big moments that made 2021 a thrilling season.
Tadej Pogačar won his second Tour de France title in less than a year. He was just a day shy of his 22nd birthday when he won his first title in 2020, and he is now the youngest ever double winner of the French grand tour. The Slovenian rider is already the top favorite to win again in 2022, but he’ll face some stiff competition from Egan Bernal, who returns to the Tour after skipping it this year, and Primož Roglič.
Anna Kiesenhofer won the Olympic road race in Tokyo by over a minute ahead of a chasing pack. Heading into the event in August, Kiesenhofer was a relative unknown compared to some of the pre-race favorites. Pushed on by the desire to avoid racing in the peloton, she formed part of the early break and never looked back. Though there was talk of miscommunication in the pack behind, it was Kiesenhofer’s relentless riding that won her the gold medal.
An estimated 1 million people lined the course to watch the men’s road race at the world championships in Flanders. Big crowds had been turning out for all the events, but the atmosphere on the final day was incomparable to anything seen lately. After over a year of races being put on under heavy COVID-19 restrictions, the sight of the fan-packed streets was an emotional one. The crowds were rewarded with a non-stop race full of action that resulted in Julian Alaphilippe winning his second consecutive world title.
Victory at the 2022 Tour de France Femmes will be fought out over eight stages. The revived race will be the second-longest on the women’s calendar after the Giro d’Italia Donne. The return of a women’s Tour de France has been long anticipated after the Grande Boucle Féminine folded in 2009. Meanwhile, the last women’s Tour organized the same people as the men’s event ended in 1989 — when it was run by the Tour de France Society. The eight-day race will depart from Paris on the same day as the men’s finishes and it will conclude at the Planches des Belles Filles.
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- Marion Rousse: The TV pundit and former rider building a Tour de France Femmes to last
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Primož Roglič won his third consecutive Vuelta a España title in 2021. While he would like to branch out into grand tour wins, three on the bounce at the Vuelta is hugely impressive. He is the third rider to do it with Roberto Heras and Tony Rominger the only other members of the three-in-a-row club. Roglič went into this year’s race after a rollercoaster summer that saw him crash out of the Tour de France before winning the Olympic time trial. While his win was very comfortable at just under five minutes, his challenge wasn’t without difficulties such as his crash while on the attack during stage 10.
The number that has been haunting all of us, including the cycling world, for the last two years. COVID-19 had less of an impact compared to 2020, but it still did have its influence this year. The Ardennes Classics were run with almost no fans on the roadside due to local restrictions, bubbles were very much still a key part in keeping a race on the road, and video press conferences were still a common occurrence. Some races were forced to cancel and others, such as Paris-Roubaix, had to postpone until the end of the season.
The number of points that Annemiek van Vleuten beat Demi Vollering by to secure the top spot in the Women’s WorldTour ranking. She is the first rider in the series’ six-year history to take the title for a second time after winning it in 2018. Van Vleuten did all of this despite skipping the defense of her Giro d’Italia Donne title to focus on the Olympic Games. Consistency was the key with wins at the Tour of Flanders, Challenge by La Vuelta, the ladies Tour of Norway and San Sebastián, as well as a string of WorldTour podium finishes.
Mark Cavendish equaled Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage wins with an impressive haul of four at this year’s race. Cavendish has been on the cusp for several years and 2021 did not look like it would be his year, but a series of events led him to be at the Tour for the first time in several years and he took the chance with both hands. While he just missed out on breaking the record, it gives us a good story to follow in 2022.
Marianne Vos set her own amazing milestone this summer by hitting the magic 30 mark at the Giro d’Italia Donne. Like Cavendish, Vos has endured her own injury issues in reaching this target and missed several editions. What makes Vos’ achievement even more impressive, if it wasn’t already incredible enough, is that she did it with fewer opportunities. The Giro d’Italia Donne is less than half the length of any men’s grand tour but Vos has taken every chance she’s had. With no sign of retiring anytime soon, she looks bound to add even more Giro wins to her palmarès.
The now infamous French fan who caused a mass pile-up on the opening stage of the Tour de France could be landed with a four-month suspended prison sentence. The 31-year-old woman wanted to send a nice message to her grandparents with a sign that read “Allez Opi-Omi”. However, she took down a huge number of riders, resulting in Marc Soler and Jasha Sütterlin abandoning the race, when she clipped Tony Martin with her cardboard sign. The prosecution will recommend the suspended sentence to a judge on December 9.
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The number of cobble sectors featured in the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes and the sector that Lizzie Deignan made her race-winning move on. COVID-19 delays meant we had to wait an extra year for it to happen, but the first Hell of the North for women got off to a big start, it’s just a shame about the prize money. Deignan took off on the opening pavé sector and was never seen again to enter herself into the history books as the first-ever winner.
While the women had their first-ever Paris-Roubaix, the men contested their first wet edition in 19 years. The October slot made it all the more likely and riders were greeted with heavy rain for several days in the region. The weather ensured a muddy slip and slide contest from Compiegne to Roubaix with plenty of riders hitting the deck during the race. In the end, it was Sonny Colbrelli that masted the conditions to take the win.
Lorena Wiebes and Tadej Pogačar topped this year’s women’s and men’s victory rankings respectively. Both riders finished the 2021 season with 13 wins under their belts. Pogačar took wins at the Tour de France, including three stages, Il Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Meanwhile, notched up victories at the Giro d’Italia Donne, Ronde van Drenthe, the Women’s Tour, and the Thüringen Ladies Tour.
Cesare Benedetti raced almost 1,000 kilometers more than anyone else in the men’s peloton in 2021 (according to the eminently reliable cqranking.com). Max Walscheid was second at 13,440.4 with Jesus Herrada a further 100km back in third place. To reach the lofty heights of over 14,000 racing kilometers, Benedetti did 86 days of racing — also the highest number in the men’s peloton.