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Tour de France rest day recap: We are living through history

18 Jul 2022

Week two of the 2022 Tour saw some of the best racing of our lifetimes as well as rather more important things

Words Will Strickson Photos Pete Goding

This time last week you’d just witnessed a strong opening act to the 2022 Tour de France, with Tadej Pogačar looking comfortable in yellow. Today you’re doing everything you can not to melt amid one of the most dangerous heatwaves Europe has ever seen while Pogačar plots the seemingly impossible task of retrieving the maillot jaune.

What a week it has been courtesy of a star studded line-up of the Alps’ mightiest mountains and some of the greatest cyclists of their generation, this year’s Tour is certainly one for the history books and we could well have an historic new rivalry on our hands.

Tadej The Untouchable may have finally met his match in Jonas Vingegaard, who this week didn’t just snatch the race lead but took it almost completely out of reach of his competitors in a stunning display before the peloton even got to the much-hyped Alpe d’Huez-Bastille Day stage.

However, this new breed of attacking racers – combined with what we saw in 2020 – means we must not write off Pogačar. As the Tour heads into the Pyrenees, week three is set to be another monster.

While riders spend the day resting in swimming pools in Carcassonne and we cower behind our curtains from the mess we’ve made, let’s catch up on everything that happened in week two of the 2022 Tour de France with the help of photographer Pete Goding. 

Stage 10: Simmering

The first stage after the rest day seemed like your classic medium mountain transition stage and it was for a while.

A huge 25-man breakaway got up the road and took control of the day with the peloton sitting back. It even looked like Pogačar would let Bora-Hansgrohe’s Lennard Kämna take yellow from the break.

But 26km from the finish, with Alberto Bettiol hanging alone out the front, the race was neutralised due to a protest in the road by climate activist group Dernière Rénovation, whose cause doesn't need explaining given the current heatwave, and the Tour’s enormous reach and carbon footprint.

Once things got back underway, there were many cats and mice before most of the breakaway reformed on the final stretch to Megève.

Eventually it came to a photo finish between BikeExchange-Jayco’s Nick Schultz and Magnus Cort, with the ever-present Dane snatching it on the line a day after losing his polka dot jersey lead.

Stage 11: Boiling point

A short description of Stage 11 could never do it justice. Quite possibly the greatest Tour de France stage most of us have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Jumbo-Visma attacked Tadej Pogačar from 60km out with Vingegaard and Primož Roglič taking turns having a go at the yellow jersey one after the other, and Pogi holding on and looking assured – even attacking himself – over the top of the Col du Galibier.

However on the last climb up the Col du Granon, where Bernard Hinault famously lost yellow to Greg Lemond last time it was featured in the Tour, Vingegaard attacked and Pogačar cracked big time.

The mystery was over, Pogačar is beatable. He ended up losing time to most of the top ten on GC.

Maybe 2022 is the year of Jonas Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma after all.

Stage 12: Lighting it up

No sooner had we just got over what we’d witnessed on Stage 11, we were met with the most hyped Tour de France stage in years.

A crossover of the return of Alpe d’Huez, Bastille Day and the previous day’s dramatics, saw fireworks expected from minute one.

The general classification battle was tamer due to the huge efforts in everyone's legs. Pogačar still tried to attack, but Vingegaard is now in defence mode .

A beautiful descent from Tom Pidcock off the Col du Galibier and the attack of Chris Froome beforehand set us all off before the two would take on the mighty Alpe d’Huez alongside some strong competitors, including Giulio Ciccone and Louis Meintjes.

Pidcock would take an almost effortless-looking solo victory up the Alpe while Froome came in a very impressive third behind Meintjes.

Another stage to remember and another one not possible to do justice to here.

Stage 13: No match

After the previous day’s efforts, it’s no surprise that most of the field took a day off on Friday. And a breakaway full of the absolute strongest riders in the peloton meant there was no chance of a big bunch getting to the line together.

A large break was always bound to splinter though and a strong front three of Mads Pedersen, who didn’t quite get his desired win in Denmark, Fred Wright, the 2022 Tour’s most frequent breakaway member (he was second in those stakes but Magnus Cort has left the race with Covid), and Hugo Houle, went away.

It was no contest in the end though. Pedersen was always going to win in a sprint and he made the others look pedestrian. His bike might’ve helped.

Stage 14: Shine

The age of the pure sprinter is no more. The Tour de France designed the 2022 parcours for excitement rather than for bunch sprints and Wout van Aert cleaning up the green jersey and winning hearts is proof of that policy’s success.

Michael Matthews then was ahead of the curve. Always a pretty talented sprinter, in recent years he adapted his style to become what some call a ‘climby-sprinty boy’, ie, technically a sprinter but more suited for days with a few lumps and punchier finishes. See also Sonny Colbrelli, we hope he’s doing okay too.

But in that evolution Matthews lost an edge in classic sprints and never quite had the punch of a Van Aert, so he’s been struggling for wins.

This week though, he took matters into his own hands and got into the breakaway. Not only that put he put the pressure on early and kept going when all looked lost on the final climb as Alberto Bettiol dropped him.

‘Bling’ fought on, caught and then passed the Italian, winning a memorable stage. He also has a new bike.

Stage 15: The catch

Another transition stage was set to take us into today’s rest day, though this looked to be one for the sprinters.

It wasn’t straightforward though, unsurprisingly. Wout van Aert tried to join Nils Politt and Mikkel Honoré in the breakaway but his team ordered him back.

Politt and Honoré were then caught with quite a lot of the stage left before Benjamin Thomas and Alexis Gougeard attacked over the day’s final lump.

Gougeard was caught but Thomas fought on and came within 500m of claiming Cofidis’s first stage win since 2008. It wasn’t to be. The sprinters that made it over the few climbs came around him, Pedersen and Van Aert battling for the win.

It was, however, Jasper Philipsen, who took his first Tour de France stage win after eight top three finishes. He was flying too.

And that’s all without mentioning a second protest by Dernière Rénovation.

What's next in store?

Tuesday is one for the breakaway, probably Matej Mohorič with two climbs and a descent before the flat run-in. Wednesday and Thursday Pogačar will be trying to get any time he can in the Pyrenees with tough stages finishing up Peyragudes and Hautacam.

Then we've got a sprinter's stage on Friday before the decisive 40km time-trial to the beautiful Rocamadour, don't count out another comeback.

Sunday is a huge day. Another champion crowned and the beginning of a new era with the opening stage of Tour de France Femmes.

For all our coverage, head to our Tour de France hub