Tour de France organisers have designed a highly treacherous route for the 2022 edition which will feature rides in gusting winds, cobblestones and punishing mountain stages.
Four countries in Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland and France will appear on the Tour map, the highest number since 2017. Denmark will become the 10th country to host the Grand Depart, and the most northerly in the Tour’s history.
The race will start on July 1 with a 13km individual time trial in Copenhagen before the second stage takes the peloton over the 18km Great Belt bridge.
“It’s windy 364 days a year, here,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme told reporters on Thursday.
“This Tour can be lost as early as the second day.”
Those who get past the three-day opening block in Denmark and fourth stage through the Flanders hills must cope with the fifth stage through cobbled sectors between Lille and Arenberg.
That is when light climbers are expected to suffer on a day that could be marred by crashes and mechanicals due to the tricky terrain which usually favours one-day race specialists.
“To go through these stages and hope to win the Tour you will need to be a versatile rider and have a strong team at your disposal,” said Tour deputy director Thierry Gouvenou.
The first test for climbers will come on the seventh stage with the first of five summit finishes at the top of the Planche des Belles Filles, where two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar effectively claimed his first title in 2020 by upsetting fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic in the final time trial.
The race will reach its highest point at the top of the lung-busting ascent to the Col du Galibier, 2607 metres above sea level.
After two brutal stages in the Pyrenees, the race will be completed with a 40km individual time trial in Southwest France and the mostly processional ride to the Champs Elysees in Paris.
The women’s Tour, which has not been held since 1989, will make a return next year running from July 24-31 and start two weeks after the end of the longest women’s race on the calendar, the Giro Donne in Italy (July 1-10).
“The biggest challenge is to broadcast the race. I think we’ve done a good job, with the race starting the same day as the men’s race ends in Paris,” Prudhomme said, adding the event would be broadcast in 170 countries.
The men’s race is broadcast in about 190 countries.