The real Covid-19 Tour, which mowed down every fortnight. The real Tour of global warming, paralyzed by both the heat wave and environmental activists. The real Tour of Emotions: The Col du Granon stage is a gentle madness, as its plot is characterized by drama and magnificent feats; those of Alpe d’Huez and Hautacam are furious madness, as the climbs of these summits were rapid. Tour de France 2022 started from the plains of Denmark, took municipal paths, sections of cobblestones, mountain passes, national roads and in the end everyone finds the truth that suits them. On Sunday, Jasper Philipsen crosses the finish line first on the Champs-Elysées and Jonas Vingegaard, exchanges his anonymity for a yellow jersey.
Is honesty a recommended value on the Tour? Guillaume Martin, who borrows as much Alpepas as philosophy shoelaces, pops the question after his sideline for Covid on July 10. The leader of Cofidis, who does not feel any symptoms, questions the good faith of the entire field, leaves “interpretation” of a distorted health protocol shortly before the start of the race and ruminates the team : “It’s clear that when you’re too nice, you get screwed.” Truffle, still stimulated by evil, a member of the medical staff of a team is asked if there are methods to confuse the sincerity of the test. This doubter: If you stick a cotton swab in the nose, it would prevent any parade.Was it necessary to be more frivolous? After the first day of discovery carried out by the organization, Flemish sports doctors rely on three testimonies to ensure that “the swab was not inserted far enough into the nose”… In 2020 and 2021, no runner had been excluded following a test conducted by the organization. On this edition, ten went home by their team’s decision. Finally, on the last day of discovery, two Frenchmen from AG2R fail. Phew, the organization’s test worked fine.
What do Filippo Ganna, an elegant Italian rider specializing in time trials, the Belgian Jasper Philipsen, one of the best sprinters in the field, and the romantic climber Thibaut Pinot have in common? During this Tour de France, they were all traumatized on their soil by Wout Van Aert of Jumbo-Visma. In Rocamadour, Ganna shows an irritated look as she sees her time “wouterized”. In Calais, Philipsen raises his arms, convinced that he has won, even though he is only second. During the last Pyrenean stage, Pinot was dropped by the green jersey, who then took his teammate in yellow Vingegaard to the pistes in Hautacam. A rare picture. With his usual rival Mathieu Van der Poel out of form, the 27-year-old sprinter-roller-puncher-climber “hyperchampion” is the most impressive runner of this event. With three wins, five other podiums, a green jersey approaching André Darrigade’s points record in 1959, a superfight title, countless breakaways and more sacrifices for his team, Wout Van Aert appears to be perfect in every way. Is there a single mistake? Maybe. He is receptive. At least when we talk to him about doping. Asked about the suspicions that hung over the best, the day before arriving in Paris, he did not like the question at all, but not at all. “Shit”, he said.
On July 6, the heads between barriers grow and lengthen. The France Télévisions set is a hair’s breadth away. In a moment of grace, he begins to sing the coronas. Franck Ferrand, historian hired by the TV station, worshiper of great men and the triumphant homeland, gives voice. The race stopped near the old slag heaps in Arenberg in the town of Wallers (north). Among the audience, a woman with a tattooed neck meets a man in a pink polo shirt. Tells him about childhood memories, belote in estaminets between their parents. The man in pink, Jacques Stablinski, is the son of Jean, a monument to French cycling. His father, a Polish émigré in the 1950s, traveled the length and breadth of the Arenberg Gorge, an area of cobbles brought back from Hell. Underground in mole, above in run. He layer “values” people from this region to those who cycle. Talking about the readers of the local duck who chose his father as the greatest sportsman in the Nordics ahead of Raymond Kopa. “Fourteen years after his death. Why? It’s a special place.”
Global warming and society’s anger over climate inaction have plagued the race so rarely. The heat wave, first: For a week, between the Alps and the Pyrenees, the riders fought in the heat and simmered on hot asphalt. The public protests against the Gros Léon, the tanker that dumps water to cool the road. At the same time, Last Renovation decides to interrupt the Tour. On July 12, activists from the green group form a human chain and block the way for runners. An ASO oil even goes to the service of order. The tour as a political mouthpiece: this is nothing new, but Last Renovation has tried this strategy twice more. Moreover, the field was not the only one blocked in its efforts. During a Swiss stage we werecaught in the whirlwind of Swiss Stoicism. A gendarme stops the Libémobile, refers to orders from very high up. Surrounded, we are simultaneously grabbed by an angry resident. The tour’s sound system would destroy the tranquility of the city. “Are you the keynote speaker?” The record players are within easy reach. All you have to do is lower the volume… The lady rolls her eyes: “I’ll be killed if I try…”
Le Granon in the Alps, its 11.3 kilometers with an average gradient of 9.2%, a setting of green dunes, purple butterwort to smell, sweet cherries to nibble on, alpine hunters and an end, Homeric. On the morning of July 13, Tadej Pogacar is in yellow from Longwy. He connects knockout punches on his opponents. The final victory is promised to him. In the evening, with his head nodding and his overcoat wide open, he loses almost three minutes to the surprise Jonas Vingegaard. All day, in the laces of Montvernier, Telegraph and Galibier, he has to react alone to the collective attacks of Jumbo-Visma, like a swallow harassed by hornets. Tactically, the work of the Dutch team is masterful. This “total cycling”, which she claims, rarely on the Tour, could not have succeeded if the Dane had not been able to let go of the Slovenian on the final climb. The dual title holder never regains his property, despite his several attempts. Supernatural beings animate the end of the event, until their handshake, in the descent of Spandelles in the Pyrenees, after the fall of Pogacar. Duels in the sun. Parallel galaxy. This Netflix moment marks the true passing witness. The new yellow jersey establishes its power with its magnanimity. And happily flies away towards the heights of Hautacam.
July 14th always flatters the patriotic fiber of Tour people. This year, the queen stage of the course takes place, which offered a fitting setting to celebrate a French runner: Alpe d’Huez and its hairpin turns packed with people. A flop: Thibaut Pinot does not repeat his feat from 2015, David Gaudu and Romain Bardet falter in the overall race. This is to disregard the other delights the race offers which bypass the official route. Far from the commotion and privatization of the mountain at the Tour, the real party takes place at the foot of the Alpe, at Freney-d’Oisans. The village, 250 inhabitants, works in all seasons, pennies fall from the sky – the best ski slope in the massif is in the town – combines national festival and village festival. Fireworks, popular ball. Heads are gray, but one resident assures that Freney is offering itself a new youth with the arrival of young townspeople eager for change. The chef, who looks like water balls, serves suckling pig and raspberry pie. A dancer, not young, is alone in the world on the gravel dance floor. The guitarist has bare feet, the singer announces to this village assembly: “Music for the Rebels”. The sound of joy echoes throughout the valley.
Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) wins in Cahors. He appears in the last kilometer, the fugitives jump in the last hectometres and raise their arms to the sky. The only French victory two days before the finish. Button. Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) fled to Carcassonne and was caught by the patrol 400 meters from the finish line. Frustrating. Romain Bardet resists on the heights of Granon, finishing third on the day and seventh overall in the end, having been ill in the Giro. Beautiful. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) takes to his heels, breaks, gets caught, is cheered on the side of the road, sets off again. Without success. His teammate David Gaudu completes a course and finishes fourth in the event, after sometimes timid, sometimes admirable management of the climb. Encouraging. Groupama-FDJ placed three men in the Top 15, including the dedicated Valentin Madouas, and finished second in the team classification. Performance. Breakaways liven up the race at the front, over several tens of kilometres, without any Frenchman slipping in. Unusual. Sometimes entire scenes without a Frenchman appearing, without even thinking about it. Invisible?
Remugles of memory: The Tour has delved into its memories, bringing dead riders (Marco Pantani) or excommunicated (Lance Armstrong) to life to compare the speed records of its dark years with this supersonic version. With each climb of the pass we wonder: Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar will they blow up the tablets? It is banked to Aubisque, not far for Alpe d’Huez and Hautacam. The convinced turn the produced watts into proven facts. The most religious ask for proof instead of suspicion. What remains is Guinness, which crosses a line after Sunday: the 2022 Tour is the fastest in history, averaging more than 42km/h. Last year, three riders noticed the strange noise from the competitor’s bike. The yellow jersey, Jonas Vingegaard, evokes a better one “preparation” from his team, Jumbo-Visma. His teammate, the green jersey Wout Van Aert, dismisses suspicions and promotes the progress made. The leader of the two sends criticism back to the ropes over two-speed cycling. Only two?