Some things stayed the same during week two of the 2022 Tour de France (TDF) such as the favorites for the general classification finishes and number of teams. What changed was the size of the mountain climbs requiring long periods of sustained climbing often at high altitudes, additional opportunities for sprinters to win points, withdrawal of some key riders, and the dominance of Tadej Pogacar who was tested and came up short.
The second week of the TDF started with race favorite Tadej Pogacar again asserting his dominance in spite of experiencing mechanical problems with his bike. He made a push and won the first major climb of the race so far, La Super Planches des Belles Filles, the first summit finish of this year's race on Stage 7. Pogacar extended his lead to 35 seconds in front of second place contender Jonas Vingegaard.
Stage 8 made a trip to Switzerland's Lausanne with an uphill sprint finish. Wout van Aert timed his sprint to perfection to come around Tadej Pogačar and Michael Matthews to win the stage.
For Stage 9 the race re-entered France and had to deal with four categorized climbs before an uphill to the end. The stage was full of breakaways and chases from the beginning and proved too much for many riders who dropped back. Bob Jungels attacked with 40 miles to go and rode solo to stage 9 victory with the General Classification riders maintaining their positions.
Another race in the mountains of the French Alps was on tap for Stage 10 which occurred after a rest day. It was won by Magnus Cort who bested 25 riders in the breakaway and sprinted to victory after a final climb. Tadej Pogačar managed to hold onto the lead with an 11 second lead. The race was temporarily interrupted by protesters who attempted to block the road. Stage 10 was a first to see the withdrawal of several important support riders either due to failing a COVID-19 test or medical issues.
There was a shakeup in overall race leadership on Stage 11 with Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard snatching the yellow jersey from Tadej Pogacar in the high mountains. The finish on Col du Galibier was the highest stage finish in Tour de France history, mostly unfamiliar with today’s racers because the last time it was in the race was 36 years ago. Pogacar, who was ahead by 11 seconds at the beginning of the stage was down a startling 2 minutes at the end. Stage 11 was the first sighting of the “devil”, the TDF fan seen every year along the course dressed in a devil costume. He is as much part of the TDF lore as the yellow jersey.
The classic mountain Alpe d'Huez was the location on stage 12, which has appeared in the TDF for the 31st time and the first time in 4 years. Alpe d’Huez is a classic route in the TDF, with 21 hairpin turns and a summit finish. This route has a fascination with cyclists all over the world. According to Strava, sixty-five thousand cyclists rode up the mountain last year. This stage was even more significant since it was a French holiday, Bastille Day and this is when French riders are under even more pressure to provide a good performance. This year it was won by a solo ride by British rider Tom Pidcock, the first TDF victory of his career.
The second week ended with a State 13 sprint finish by Danish rider Mads Pedersen. Race leader remained Jonas Vingegaard.
One more week to go before the finish in Paris .
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