The reigning and two-time Tour de France champion was on hand for the route presentation on Thursday, and after the 21 stages were unveiled in Paris, he weighed in on the challenges ahead.
The verdict? All things considered, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) liked what he saw.
“It’s pretty great. It’s a complete course from the first to the last stage,” Pogačar said. “We have everything: sprints, small climbs, big climbs, echelons, time trials, cobblestones. I am really looking forward to it.”
Pogačar’s all-rounder skill set should come in handy on a course that features both brutal climbs like the Alpe d’Huez and also 53 km of time trialing, a balanced combination in the context of recent editions of the race. That said, he was hesitant to say outright that it was a route well-designed for his talents.
“I don’t know if the course suits me, but I think it’s a nice route,” he said.
He was particularly wary of the cobblestones that await on stage 5 and the wind likely to assail the peloton on a number of different stages. He noted that he doesn’t mind cobblestones, but that luck can have a big impact on the way things play out on the pavé, and the same is true for stages buffeted by wind.
“I will do some recon, because it will be necessary. I am pretty excited. The windy stages are always tricky,” he said.
“Everybody is nervous for those stages, and it will be interesting to see what happens. When you have a 20-kilometer-long bridge [on stage 2], it’s rare that nothing happens. It will be scary.”
In short, the variety of the 2022 Tour de France route will provide plenty of different opportunities for riders to gain time on their rivals – or to lose it.
As Pogačar put it: “You can lose the race pretty fast.”