The top-level World Tour cycling teams all receive an automatic invite to the Tour de France, and then there are four ‘wildcard’ second division (pro continental) teams. All of the top-level teams will be making this race one of their main goals of the year and that acute focus is going to elevate the performance of the riders as well as the support that they receive from their teams.
While each team will be starting with eight athletes, behind the scenes there will be at least twice as many people and, for some teams, triple the number of people following the race to take care of the riders and their equipment. Most teams will be travelling with two or three sports directors, physiotherapists, five soigneurs (massage therapists), one doctor, three or four mechanics and a host of other staff that will fill numerous other roles such as driving, nutrition, media and logistics.
The 2022 Tour de France kicks off in Denmark for their special Grand Départ, with the first three stages taking place in Copenhagen and surrounding islands. On Friday 1st July, the race will get underway with a time trial from the historic capital city. The time trial format is each rider on his own, racing only against the clock. It makes for fantastic viewing, where you get to see 200 riders whiz past at around 25mph! The host city will be in full colours for the event – expect parties, festivities and lots of freebies from the publicity caravan for all the spectators.
After three stages, the race heads to France, starting the week in historic Dunkirk and heading into local hills before finishing the day in the seaside town of Calais. From here, the peloton will take on the historic cobbles of the Paris Roubaix race, as it heads through the Arenberg Forest. Expect nothing less than blood, sweat and tears from this stage.
The first week in France also sees riders dip into Belgium and Switzerland, through the Ardennes and Jura Mountains in stages 6-8, before the first (much-needed) rest day in Les Portes du Soleil.
Week two of the race brings on the Alps. High mountains here we come! Head to Albertville, host city of the 1992 Winter Olympics, and venture out from there to watch the mountain stages where we will see the decisive Col du Galibier on stage 11 and the summit finish of Alpe d’Huez on stage 12.
Start the day in picturesque Briançon, a Tour favourite (this year will be its 35th time hosting the race), and the highest city in France at an altitude over 1300 metres. Unsurprisingly, the streets are narrow and steep on the hillside, as they wind through the fortified centre. The hamlet features a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so allow some extra time to enjoy the Fortifications of Vauban before watching the cycling. The caravans and celebrations will line the mountainside roads. Get there early to partake in the day’s fun, meet fans from all over the world and cheer on weary riders as they take on some of the hardest climbs in the world. The Tour might not be won on these stages, but it certainly can be lost.
In the third week, the race will head south to the Pyrenees. The stage that could make or break the race is the final mountain stage, up the Hautacam. Starting in beautiful Lourdes, 143 kilometres of road awaits, with the Col d’Aubisque and the Col de Spandelles ahead of the final 13km climb, with a gruelling average of 7.8% elevation. Here we are likely to see the overall winner decided of the race.
Only another individual time trial and a flat stage await the riders before the transfer to Paris, for the last ceremonial stage through the streets. The riders will do laps around the main drag of the Champs-Élysées, a spectacle made of dreams, as the fans thunder and the sprinters test themselves one last time, before the finish line is crossed and champagne is popped as the sun sets over the French capital.
Written by Brodie Mai Chapman an Australian professional cyclist riding at the top level of the sport
“Hello cycling fans! I’m 30 years old, currently racing for the women's WorldTeam FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope. I am on the long list for the six-rider team that we will send to the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, but being on a French team means that it will be highly competitive to get one of those six places. I will need to prove myself throughout the early part of the season, showing that I will be a valuable and reliable teammate. I grew up watching the men’s Tour de France, and I’m thrilled we get to race it this year too.”