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David L. Stanley
Looking Back at the 2022 Tour de France;
A Summary

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David Stanley is an experienced cycling writer. His work has appeared in Velo,, Road, Peloton, and the late, lamented Bicycle Guide (my favorite all-time cycling magazine). Here's his Facebook page. He is also a highly regarded voice artist with many audiobooks to his credit, including McGann Publishing's The Story of the Tour de France and Cycling Heroes.

David L Stanley

David L Stanley

Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle

David L. Stanley's masterful telling of his bout with skin cancer Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

David L. Stanley writes:

This was a Tour loaded with je ne sais quoi. This was a Tour filled with esprit de corps; a joy that took its lead from the two men who stood ultimately on the top steps in Paris. It was a Tour that was très compétitif. This was a Tour that radiated joie de vivre that started with Denmark’s Grand Depart and ended in a glorious celebration on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. (That’s about all the French I know, besides menus and wine-lists and cheese.) You’d have to go back to the 1985-86 battles between LeMond and Hinault to find a Tour that gave us such daily intensity. Fortunately, this Tour doled out its verve and joy in the best of sporting spirit. This was one of the finest Tours of my lifetime.

The following is a casually arranged series of thoughts on the 2022 Tour de France that hides behind the facade of a column. Any attempts by the reader to assume they are listed in order of importance will be disavowed by the Chairman; Chairman Bill.

The Jonas Vingegaard doppelganger. Jonas looks an awfully lot like a supremely fit Macauley Culkin, doesn’t he?

Jonas Vingegaard

Jonas Vingegaard or Macauley Culken? Sirotti photo

The Helmets. I am a big fan of Wout van Aert’s helmet sponsorship. Not that I am a big fan of RedBull, mind you, but this is marketing for the modern era. Pro cyclists are wildly underpaid. That’s because they are wildly undervalued and underutilized by the sponsors who drive the sport. No better place for a billboard than on a bike racer’s head. Internet rumor places the value of the Barilla ad on top ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin’s helmet at upwards of $250K.

Chin snoods on the Specialized TT helmets? Not a fan. Plus, that chin hanky would drive me nuts as I rode.

The Young Americans: Les Jeunes Américains! Who are They?

Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar, age 23), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma, age 27), Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates, age 24), Neilson Powless (EF Education-Easy Post, age 25), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo, age 21), and Joe Dombrowski (Astana, age 31) - all were hors categorie.

Brandon McNulty leads Vngegaard and Pogacar in stag 17. Sirotti photo

  • Joe Dombrowski. At age 31, no longer a young man cycling-wise, but consider this: JD has ridden 12 Grand Tours. He has finished 11 of them. This was his first Tour de France, and he’ll finish in 44th on GC for a team that had little to shout about this summer. That’s a remarkable record of quality and professionalism.
  • Matteo Jorgenson. Yes, Hugo Houle’s victory on Stage 16 into Foix was one for the ages. Houle, as you might know, lost his brother to a drunk driver whilst his brother was on a run. Hugo had a remarkable finish, and well-taken. Yet, if Matteo doesn’t overcook a turn and hit the tarmac, I would  argue that Matteo would have given Houle a solid run for the win. Still, that’s sport. And he garnered 4th  place in the Young Rider comp, to boot. Oh, yeah, the highest placed Movistar rider in 21st place in Paris.
  • Sepp Kuss. Simply put, one of the best climbing domestiques in the world. Without him, perhaps Tadej Pogačar claims another maillot jaune. I’m not sure if Wout would have been enough to keep Jonas in Yellow. 18th in Paris, Sepp rode an extraordinary Tour.
  • Brandon McNulty. Simply put, one of the best climbing domestiques in the world. Without McNulty at his side, Tadej would have been fighting Geraint Thomas (Ineos) in a cut-throat battle for 2nd place with J.V. minutes and minutes ahead on his own. You should know that Brandon’s time up the Pla d’Azet on Stage 17 surpassed Marco Pantani’s record. And Brandon passed the drugs test. And claimed 3rd in the Young Rider comp.
  • Neilson Powless. The star of the EF squad this year, Neilson wasthisclose to a yellow jersey early in the race. He continued to light the blue touch paper for the remainder of the race. A very bright spot for Vaughters’ men throughout the Tour. And an 8th place in the Climber’s Comp is nothing to sneeze at. I should also add, he is a groundbreaker. A member of the Oneida tribe, Mr. Powless is the first US Native American to contest the Tour de France.
  • Quinn Simmons. There were very few men in the Tour who were not legal to drink champagne in March (Quinn turned 21 in May). Few Tour rookies rode with the verve of Quinn Simmons.  One of the most aggressive riders in the race, he was in 5 major breakaways, and was on the attack on many days when he did not make the break of the day. A superb attacker, he’s got an incredible future.

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The brutal race.

  • Covid. While not as severe as other races since the pandemic began, Covid still left its mark. 19 riders left the race with Covid positives. 2 more were allowed to continue, Bob Jungels (AG2R- another lovely success story of the Tour after all his health setbacks) and Rafal Majka (UAE-Team Emirates). Majka suffered a terrible stroke of bad luck when a broken chain in stage 16 caused him to tear a leg muscle and W/D from the race. They stayed in the race when it was deemed that their viral load was too low to pose a threat. Jungels, by the way, had a fine 12th place Tour. How hard was this Tour? He finished ¾ of an hour behind the leaders.
  • The Pace. Every day, the pace was brutal. Go back to the YouTube archives of the 1980s and early '90s. You’ll see the first hour or two at a piano pace, 30-35 kph. Guys are doing interviews on their bikes with radio and TV teams. They mug for the cameras, eating a croissant or reading the paper whilst they ride. Breaks were allowed to get 10 minutes up the road. That era, bike fans, is over. The peloton rolls along at 30 kph from the départ fictif for 5 km, the flag drops at the départ réel, and all hell breaks loose as the breakaway tries to get established at 55-60 kph. 53x12 at 100 rpm, each pedal revolution carries a racer 10 meters. Nope, we don’t see riders clowning and wearing traffic cones on their heads anymore.
  • The Heat. As we move forward to an era of massive climate change, this issue needs to be addressed in better fashion. When ASO, the Tour organizers, need to wet the roads to keep tar from melting, you’ve got a problem. A few thoughts: One, start the stages earlier. Most stages start around 1:00 pm to take advantage of late afternoon TV viewing. But isn’t about ½ of France on vacation in July? Two, on extreme heat days (temps in excess of, say, 32C/90F) shorten the stages. The riders leave the village depart while the team buses head down the road. The riders roll through the neutralized section for 10 km where they meet their buses and then ride to a point approximately 2-3 hours (120 km or so) from the finish. The get on the bikes, and the flag drops, and the stage finishes at the proper finish with no one needing a secret IV drip to rehydrate. Three, adjust the time cut. When heat warnings are in place, create a more generous time cut to show support for the riders who are staggering in long behind the leaders. If it is 37C/98F, there’s no one sandbagging for an easy ride. Every rider out there is merely desperate to get to the finish. Four, more neutral support water motos. Currently, no feeds are allowed in the last ten km, as the regs read to me. Agreed, we don’t need team cars where would affect the outcome. But riders need water in those last 10 km. Create a water moto squad for those last 10 km to keep riders hydrated and safe.

176 riders rolled down the start ramp of the Copenhagen time trial for the start of Tour No. 109. 135 men signed on for the final stage into Paris. That’s 41 riders who didn’t see the finish on the Champs. You are correct, 76% of starters saw the finish. A mere 16 riders finished within one hour of the winner. Caleb Ewan, a fine rider, was the Lanterne Rouge. 135th place, 5 hours and 40 minutes in arrears. This was a race that sapped the strongest of men. 

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan at the start of stage nine. Sirotti photo

The Time Cut. The time cut is heartless. Michael Morkov (Quick-Step Alpha-Vinyl) rode nearly the entire 202 km of stage 15 into Carcassone alone, only to miss the time cut by 12 minutes. When a top pro like Morkov misses the 20% time cut, suffering in 40C/105F heat for hours, the org in charge needs to take a hard look at that 20%. And yet, weren’t we all cheering for Fabio Jakobsen (QS-AV) as he struggled up the last climb to the summit of the Peyragudes ski station on stage 17 to make the time cut by 15 seconds. Go back and watch the end of the stage on YouTube. Note the broom wagon, the Balai Voiture, more accurately, the Balai Vulture, as it hovered behind him. Note that all his teammates, all the team workers, everyone in the stands, all were standing and screaming for him to beat the giant digital clock that stood like a sword of Damocles over the finish.

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The Rider Safety Issue. That professional bike racing still allows the Team Directors to drive the team vehicle is ludicrous and dangerous. I’ve said it before—hire and train race caravan drivers and mandate that the drivers be used. A DS has a thousand things on his mind during a stage. Let the DS direct. Let the drivers drive.

The Road Surfaces. Road surfaces matter. The purpose of the Tour de France is to identify the strongest stage racer in the world. He needs to be among the strongest in every aspect of the sport: riding on the flats, reading the race, climbing, descending, time trialing. If he is to win, he needs to be the very best in at least one of these categories and in the top 3 in each. He also needs to be able to manage his bicycle on all types of road surfaces; cobbles, gravel and dirt, and tarmac, regardless of the road condition. The road surfaces matter. And they need to present a challenge.

The Denmark Depart. An incredible spectacle. If you watched any of the team presentations and didn’t get a little choked up as 100,000 Danes chanted “JONAS! JONAS! JONAS! and you saw Jonas nearly in tears at the love, you sincerely need to check your humanity. I love the foreign Grand Depart. Whether in Denmark or Yorkshire or Ireland or even Berlin in 1987, the hordes of fans by the roadsides tells all about the magic of this event. As a Tweet I saw read, “There are 6 million people in Denmark and 5.6 mil are on the roadside.”

Plenty of spectators during the Danish stages. photo: ASO/Paulin Ballet

The ”What If? factor” I heard this a lot over the last week of the Tour. “What if UAE Team Emirates hadn’t been hit so hard with withdrawals?” Indeed, what if? No one knows. No one gets to know. Sport is like that; every sport deals with injury and illness. There is no bad luck for UAE. There was no good luck for Team Ineos to stay intact. There is no ‘luck’ in sport. There is just a lot of random stuff that happens.

The Stage 11. Albertville to Col du Granon Serre Chevalier. 152 km. As mountain stages go, this was not lengthy. There was pressure early, as both Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates led the way on the Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier.

Stage 11 profile

But it was on the Granon, when Jonas attacked with about 5 km to go below the 2,400 meter peak, that things went pear-shaped for UAE. Majka set a tempo to pull back Vingegaard, and gapped his captain Tadej Pogačar. Vingo would pass members of the early break to a solo victory, his first ever Tour stage victory, and leave last year’s victor 2:51 behind for the day and 2:22 behind on GC. Jonas in yellow.

Before the hammer dropped. Pogacar leads Vingegaard on the Col du Granon.

This was also the stage that launched Brave Sir Geraint’s assault onto the podium. His 4th place on the day moved him into 4th overall.

From Stage 11 forward, all power shifted to the men from Jumbo. Jonas may not have targeted this day as the stage in which he could take the win, but when he attacked and saw Tadej unable to answer, Jonas made it the stage that mattered.

The Team Ineos, Tom Pidcock, and Geraint Thomas. A stellar ride for the British team. Perhaps if Dave Brailsford had more confidence in Geraint Thomas before the Tour, Thomas’s 3rd place might have been a 2nd. Still, we saw the unveiling of 22-year-old Tom Pidcock on L’Alpe d’Huez as a future champion. We saw the remarkably smart ride of 36-year-old Welshman Geraint Thomas, as he kept his powder dry with the knowledge that while he couldn’t match the explosions of Vingo and Pogo, he could certainly close the gaps over the long haul. We saw the team place two riders in the top ten on GC, Thomas and Yates, and Pidcock take 2nd in the Young Rider’s category. Ineos finished intact, claiming the team prize by 38 minutes over Groupama-FDJ and Jumbo-Visma. It was an exceptional Tour de France for the British-based squad. Most gladly and importantly, chapeau to Brave Sir Geraint, as the 2018 Tour winner proved wrong all his doubters. Including his boss.

Geraint Thomas racing in stage 17. Sirotti photo

The MVP, the Man of the Match. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) He was the dead solid perfect total teammate AND he won the green jersey by a record number of points.  He took the early yellow jersey. A plan or not, it took the early pressure off of his captain. He got into the early breakaways in the mountains to support Kuss and Vingo. He got into the early breakaways to claim all the sprint points. In fact, he claimed 40% more points than 2nd place Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck). He carried water bottles. You cannot be a more complete athlete than Wout van Aert.

Wout van Aert on a lone break in yellow in stage 6. Photo: ASO/Charly Lopez

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One of my favorite moments of the Tour was WvA showing off his bike on the stage into Paris where we could see his name label as “Wout van VERT” on the seat tube. “Vert” being French for green, of course. The other favorite Wout moment? Wout leaving the hot seat on the day’s penultimate stage, the time trial, to slap his teammate Jonas Vingegaard on the shoulder as he rolled past the finish as the 2022 Tour de France champion. A fine show of brotherhood and sportsmanship.

The Handshake. All sports have their unwritten rules and one of cycling’s, oft-ignored, is that you don’t attack one of the race leaders early on the stage if they have a mechanical or misfortune. Normalement, that goes out the window in the late bits of a stage. Yet, when Tadej crashed on a Stage 18 descent, the stage up to Hautacam, Jonas sat up and waited for him. Crazy, to wait for a rival at crunch time. Perhaps it was a wise tactical move, as Tadej certainly rode strongly with Jonas as they made their way down hill and across the valley, but still. Tadej knew it was an extraordinary moment, and held out his hand in thanks.

The Two Men. These two guys, Tadej and Jonas, Vingo (age 25) and Pogo (age 23), are doing something exceptional. If both stay healthy and happy, they are looking at many years (athletically speaking, 7-10 years) of a sterling competitive relationship. You don’t see this often in sport, a pair of men emerging at the peak of their powers together who are fierce competitors, yet well-mannered and pleasant with each other. It’s a wee list; we’ve seen it with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Here, each urges the other on to bring out the best performances possible. Without Pogs pushing Vingo on, perhaps Vingo still wins, but we would not have seen such a stellar 24-day performance.

Vingegaard & Pogacar after stage 17. Sirotti photo

It's clear they are aware of this. That they are unfailingly polite and sporting towards each other makes this a lesson for an era in which rudeness, incivility, and disrespect reign. It reminds me of jazz musicians; two trumpet players on stage pushing each other to play stuff they never dreamt they’d be able to play alone.

Jonas and Tadej remind me of my days in a martial arts studio. When you are paired with an excellent partner, you are capable of fierce competition, driving each other to be the very best, and at the conclusion of class, you bow, change your clothes, and demonstrate that you both respect and value the other man.

That’s what we were privileged to see this year at the Tour de France. Telling: do you know what Tadej is doing this next week? He’s following the Tour de France Femmes. Why? One, he says women’s racing is more interesting than men’s and two, the Tour runner-up is supporting his fiancée Urška Žigart (Bike Exchange-Jayco), who he says is one of the best climbers in the world.

Did you note what Jonas said was the best part of his win? That “having my two girls at the finish; my wife Trine and our daughter Frida there for me throughout the Tour, that was the most important thing.”

Two modern young men who just happen to stand at the very apex of their sport, our sport; this makes me think good thoughts for the future of sport, the future of cycling, the future of the Tour.

This was one of the very best Tours de France of all time. Triumph and tragedy. Humor and sadness. Fine sportsmanship. To quote Wide World of Sports, the human drama of athletic competition. The Tour 2022 was a head-to-head battle that rivaled the greatest moments of any championship boxing match or Wimbledon final.

This will join the list of iconic Tours: 1947, the first after WWII. 1949 – Coppi vs. Bartali. 1961 – Anquetil leads from wire to wire. 1969 – Merckx wins by 18 minutes. 1986 – Greg slays the Badger. 2004 – Voeckler in yellow for many days against all odds. 2016 – Run FROOMEY RUN!

You can find “Greatest Tours of All-Time” lists all over the internet, even here at Bike Race Info. But if the 2022 Tour is not on the list, then a) the folks who wrote the piece haven’t updated their list yet, or b) they’re just wrong and not paying attention.

An epic Tour, a joyous Tour, Vive Le Tour!

David Stanley, like nearly all of us, has spent his life working and playing outdoors. He got a case of Melanoma as a result. Here's his telling of his beating that disease. And when you go out, please put on sunscreen.


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