Tour de France

Tour de France (34)

Yves Lampaert claimed a shock victory on stage one of the Tour de France in rainy conditions in Copenhagen to take the first yellow jersey of this year's race.

The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider came out on top in Friday's opening 13.2-kilometre time trial in a time of 15 minutes and 17 seconds.

Lampaert dislodged Belgian countryman Wout van Aert, who finished five seconds back, while Tour favourite Tadej Pogacar was a further two seconds behind in third.

Time trial world champion Filippo Ganna and fellow heavyweight Mathieu van der Poel completed the top five, but it was surprisingly Lampaert who was celebrating at the end.

An emotional Lampaert said in his post-race interview: "My mind is exploding right now – I can't believe it. Top 10 would have been my expectation but to win is unbelievable.

"I know I'm in good condition, but to win the first stage of the Tour de France, the prologue, is something I never dreamed of.

"To beat Van Aert, Van der Poel, Ganna… it's unbelievable for me."

Lampaert, the fourth Belgian to win the opening time trial in the Tour de France, added: "I'm just a farmer's son from Belgium, eh."

Despite finishing in third, Pogacar confirmed his status as the overall favourite for a third title in a row by finishing as the best of the likely general classification racers.

The Slovenian laid down a marker when posting a time of 15:24, enough to finish just behind Team Jumbo-Visma's Van Aert, who was then usurped by Lampaert.

Elsewhere on stage one of the 109th edition of the race, Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic conceded eight and nine seconds to Pogacar respectively.


STAGE RESULT 

1. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 15 minutes and 17 seconds
2. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0.05 seconds
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +0.07s
4. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.10s
5. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +0.13s

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 0:15:17
2. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0.05
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +0.07

Points Classification

1. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 20
2. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 17
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 15

Police searched the hotel Team Bahrain Victorious are staying in on the eve of the Tour de France at request of French prosecutors.

The raid in the early hours of Thursday morning came just three days after some riders and members of Team Bahrain Victorious staff were subjected to police searches on their homes.

The Marseilles Prosecutor's Office started an investigation into doping allegations made against Team Bahrain Victorious during the 2021 Tour.

Team Bahrain Victorious stated on Monday that "at no time have the team been informed of the progress, results or received any feedback about the investigation" following the police searches at the start of this week.

The team believe the timing of the raids were conducted with the aim of "intentionally damaging the team's reputation" and "undoubtedly casts a shadow of doubt on the purpose of the investigation" so close to the start of the 2022 Tour, which starts in Copenhagen on Friday.

A Team Bahrain Victorious statement said: "Following the police search into some staff and riders' homes on Monday, the Team Bahrain Victorious hotel was searched by Danish Police at the request of the French prosecutors this morning at 5:30 am.

"The officers searched all team vehicles, staff and riders’ rooms. The team fully cooperated with all the officers' requests, and the search was completed within two hours. No items were seized from the team.

"Following the police search, the team is now looking forward to focusing on the world's biggest and best cycling race, Tour de France.

"The team will make no further comment on the subject."

 

"I'm just a kid from Slovenia, watching television all day and then riding afterwards," said Tadej Pogacar, after winning the 2020 Tour de France.

Then just 21, he required a 57-second swing to overtake his compatriot Primoz Roglic on the final time trial.

He went on to win the grandest of the Grand Tours by 59 seconds, writing his name forever into cycling history as he won Le Tour on his debut.

There was less drama in 2021, as Pogacar easily retained the three jerseys he won in 2020 (the yellow for the general classification, polka dot for the mountains and white for the best young rider).

While Olympic glory went to Roglic, Pogacar is out to match the great Eddy Merckx in the record books as he returns to Grand Tour action after skipping the Giro d'Italia.

The race starts in Copenhagen on Friday, with the opening three stages winding their way through Denmark – the 10th nation other than France to host the Grand Depart.

Can anyone hope to stop Pogacar in the 109th edition of Le Tour, or is there just no matching the kid from Slovenia?

 

Pogacar has Merckx in his sights

Only Merckx has managed to win the Tour de France on each of his first three appearances in the race (the Belgian went on to win his first five in a row, remarkably), but a place in history is there for the taking for Pogacar.

He is already the youngest rider to win multiple yellow jerseys, at the age of 22 years and 301 days at the culmination of the 2021 Tour, while he has led the young rider classification for the last 30 stages in total, since stage 13 in 2020, which is the longest run since the white jersey was first awarded in 1975.

Pogacar is also aiming to become the first rider to win the king of the mountains jersey in three successive editions of the Tour de France since popular French rider Richard Virenque between 1994 and 1997.

"The Tour de France is the jewel in the crown. It's the one that the road cyclists do all want to win," Chris Hoy, one of the United Kingdom's greatest Olympians, told Stats Perform.

"As such, it's quite hard to predict. But Pogacar is one of these young phenomenal athletes who have shown such maturity, despite their years."

 

Roglic out for revenge

Roglic won the Criterium du Dauphine earlier in June, and looks well placed to push for what would be his fourth Grand Tour success, albeit his first outside of Spain.

The chance was cruelly snatched away in 2020, while Roglic was forced to abandon ahead of stage nine last year following a crash six stages prior.

Roglic is aiming to become the oldest rider to win the Tour de France since Cadel Evans in 2011 (34 years and 162 days).

He will be 32 years old and 268 days on the last day of this year's race, but is the prime contender from a strong Jumbo-Visma team.

Their line-up includes six-time Tour de France stage winner Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard, who finished second overall in 2021, and Sepp Kuss, an exceptional climber who last year became the first American to win a stage at the Tour de France since Tyler Farrar in 2011, while Steven Kruijswijk is one of three riders in the squad to have finished on the GC podium before.

Van Aert is the pick of the supporting cast, with his six stage wins between 2019 and 2021 the joint-highest in that period alongside Pogacar.

Indeed, the Belgian won the final two stages last year and could become the first rider to win three successive individual stages (not including time trials) at Le Tour since Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi in 2003.

No Bernal, but INEOS looking strong

Egan Bernal has not yet fully recovered from a serious crash he suffered earlier this year, meaning INEOS Grenadiers are without one of the best in the business.

Yet their team is still one to be reckoned with. Captain Geraint Thomas is one of just three riders in the provisional start list to have won Le Tour (along with Pogacar and Chris Froome), with the Welshman heading to France on the back of his sole victory of 2022 so far, in the Tour de Suisse.

Only Merckx (in 1974) and Bernal (2019) have won both the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France in the same season, and while a Thomas push for GC glory looks unlikely, INEOS have real depth.

Tom Pidcock is one of the brightest prospects in cycling, having triumphed in the Tokyo Olympic Games mountain biking and the World Championships (cyclo-cross).

He is riding alongside Adam Yates, the winner of the white jersey in 2016, and time trial world champion Filippo Ganna.

Stage 20 between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour (40.7km) will be the longest individual time trial in the Tour de France since 2014, and Ganna, a six-time stage winner at the Giro d'Italia, will be looking to come to the fore there.

Cavendish denied a shot at history

Despite Pogacar's dominance, Mark Cavendish provided the most remarkable story at the 2021 Tour de France. His comeback was one for the ages.

Cavendish had not featured at the Tour de France in 2016, but last year he won four stages to match the overall record of Merckx (34 stage victories) that had stood since 1975.

 

The Manxman was unable to surpass it on the Champs-Elysees, however, and his chance of becoming the outright record holder may well have gone, after Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl went with Fabio Jakobsen (who has 10 sprint wins this season) as their sprinter.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team riders have led the points classification in the Tour de France in each of the last 33 stages of the race, with three of their riders winning the green jersey in that time. Julian Alaphilippe is one of them, but like Cavendish he has missed out.

France out of luck?

Alaphilippe has won six of the last nine stages won by a French rider in the Tour de France, and would have been aiming to become the first home rider to win a stage at five consecutive editions since Bernard Hinault (1978-1982).

As it is, Alaphilippe will have to watch on, and with that France's slim hopes of a home success seem to have dwindled further still.

Romain Bardet has achieved five top-10 finishes in the GC standings. That is the most for a French rider since Virenque (six between 1994 and 2000), yet Bardet has finished only two of his last four Grand Tours and it would be a shock if the Team DSM man challenged.

Pierre Rolland will participate in his 13th Tour de France, the joint-highest tally among all riders on the provisional start list, alongside Imanol Erviti, while Thibaut Pinot will make his first Grand Tour start since the 2020 Vuelta a Espana, when he abandoned after two stages. This will be his ninth appearance in La Grande Boucle, but he has finished only four times.

The last time a Frenchman did not win a stage was in 1999 – since then, 59 stages have been won by French riders – but you might not bet against that run ending this year.

Peter Sagan has seen his Tour de France preparations take a hit after testing positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks before the start of the race.

Seven-time Tour de France green jersey winner Sagan was forced to abandon the Tour de Suisse on Saturday due to a third positive coronavirus test in 18 months.

The Slovakian, who holds the record for the most points classification victories in the Tour de France (seven), took to Twitter to announce he had contracted the virus on Sunday.

"Yesterday, Saturday, after the finish of stage seven of the Tour de Suisse, I was given a COVID-19 test by the Team TotalEnergies doctor," he wrote.

"Unfortunately, it came out positive. I have no symptoms, and I feel well but I have to abandon the race. I thank you for your support and I will keep you posted."

Sagan becomes the latest name in a growing list of riders to contract the virus, with INEOS Grenadiers' Tom Pidcock and Bora-Hansgrohe's Aleksandr Vlasov also testing positive for COVID-19.

Vlasov was leading the Tour de Suisse at the time of his withdrawal, while Mikkel Bjerg – team-mate of two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar – withdrew from the Tour of Slovenia due to coronavirus.

Sagan will hope to recover in time for the start of the Tour de France in Copenhagen on July 1, having ended a 13-month winless drought with his sprint victory at stage three in Grenchen earlier this week.

Egan Bernal says he is "happy to be alive" and is "starting to feel like a cyclist again" as he steps up his recovery from a horror crash.

The 25-year-old required multiple surgeries after sustaining a fractured vertebra, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung, and several fractured ribs when he collided with a parked bus at high speed on a training ride in Colombia.

Bernal, who won the won the 2019 Tour de France and the 2021 Giro d'Italia, was originally told by doctors that there was a "95 per cent chance" of him being left paralysed by the crash.

Just days after being pictured on the road for the first time in two months, an emotional Bernal opened up on his recovery.

"I actually received an important lesson from this accident, so absurdly I'm actually thankful for having lived through this experience," Bernal said, speaking at a 'Ride With Egan' event held on the virtual cycling platform Zwift.

"I'm happy to be alive and little by little I'm starting to feel like a cyclist again. 

"I want to say thanks to all the people who wrote to me and sent me positive energy, they really helped me. 

"Having the energy and support of an entire country, of so many people in cycling from around the world and especially of my loved ones, has allowed me to move forward and contradict the first terrible diagnoses of the doctors."

Bernal explained the accident had allowed him to view life in a different way, acknowledging his aim of being "the best rider in the world" had faded into irrelevance when he was faced with the life-threatening consequences of the collision.

"The accident allowed me to see things from a different perspective," Bernal added. "Before, I was only focused on cycling and being the best rider in the world. But the real priority in life is to feel good and be able to be with those who love us.

"When you are attached to a ventilator you feel fragile and vulnerable, only then do you really value what you previously underestimated or took for granted.

"Now, I send my strength to those who are suffering. We must have patience and give the right consideration to what happens to us in life. 

"Being forced to miss races can be traumatic, but it is more important to still be in this world, surrounded by the affection of family and friends. Sometimes we forget what really matters."

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was, however, reluctant to set a date for his competitive return.

"I don't know what the recovery time will be. I don't want to rush or set a date for my return, it wouldn't be ideal given everything that has happened," he added.

"Clearly I hope to recover as soon as possible, but I have to listen to my body. Before thinking about getting back to winning, I have to get back to full health and finish a race. That would already be an important success.

"I hope I'm not afraid to do what I love.

"I don't know if when I go back to going fast I'll be scared or not. For now, I've only done a few rides. Fear was certainly not the first sensation I felt when I got back in the saddle. Instead, it was pure happiness."

Chris Hoy has labelled Mark Cavendish's spectacular Tour de France comeback as "one of the greatest" in sporting history.

Cavendish, a silver medallist on the track for Great Britain at the 2016 Olympic Games, made a stunning return to Le Tour in 2021.

Having not featured in the race since 2018, Cavendish came in as a late replacement for Deceuninck-QuickStep and landed four stage wins, seeing him match the great Eddy Merckx's career record of 34 stage victories that had stood since 1975.

Indeed, Cavendish went into the final stage with the opportunity to surpass Merckx, though he could only finish third in a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees. He nevertheless took the green jersey for the second time in his career.

It was an unlikely road back for 36-year-old Cavendish, who just last week became the oldest winner of the Milano-Torino.

"Oh, I think Mark Cavendish's comeback last year was one of the greatest in sport we've ever seen," Hoy, one of Great Britain's greatest Olympians, told Stats Perform.

"It was, I don't think even he had really thought that he was gonna have such an impact, and to be called in so late in the year. He had a really solid year, started winning again, he got his confidence back.

"But I don't think that he even envisaged that he would be competing in the Tour de France, let alone winning multiple stages and equalling the greatest of all time in many people's eyes.

 

"He's having a fantastic year this year as well, but regardless of what he does from now on he is a legend of the sport and that will not change. An extra Tour de France stage win is what he wants, but it wouldn't make him any more of a legend in my eyes.

"I'm sure for most of the cycling community his place is already cemented forever. He is a proper legend of the sport."

For Hoy, Cavendish's legacy is secured around the globe.

"I think Mark has real global appeal," Hoy said. "He's well known in the UK and has a huge following over here, but equally wherever he goes, wherever he competes, because of the way he raced, because he's so exciting, because there's always drama surrounding him.

"He either wins or there's always some controversy or something. It is great for the sport. I think the best thing about his comeback is seeing how much it means to him and the emotion, because sport is nothing without emotion.

"If somebody wins just routinely, and it becomes almost easy looking, even if it's not, but if it appears to be easy and there's no emotion, then it's hard for the public to get behind that. But for Cav, he's always had that emotion, people love to see how much it means to him.

"We've never seen Cav quite as emotional as when he won his first stage of the Tour last year, it was incredible."

Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar has signed a new deal to remain with UAE Team Emirates until 2027.

The Slovenian has worn the yellow jersey down the Champs Elysees at the last two editions of the Tour, also claiming the mountains classification in both.

Pogacar, who is still only 22, took bronze in the Tokyo 2020 men's road race and has now secured his long-term future with the team he joined in 2019.

"I'm really happy to be able to commit my future to the team and stay here for the next years," he told his team's official website. "I feel at home here, it feels like a big family.

"This team is a really good fit for me and I am fortunate to say that I have not only found colleagues but friends.

"I'm excited for the years ahead and what they will bring, hopefully more success for me and for the team. I hope we are inspiring lots of kids to ride bikes."

Mark Cavendish could not secure a 35th Tour de France stage win to break Eddy Merckx's record as Matej Mohoric prevailed on stage 19 to claim his second victory of this year's race.

Cavendish, 36, was tipped to break the all-time record for stage wins, set by Merckx in 1975, but he will now have to wait for the opportunity on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday.

Under 48 hours after Bahrain Victorious had their team hotel and bus raided, Mohoric's triumph – his second and the team's third win at this year's Tour – resembled a procession as he cruised home with a near one-minute advantage.

A sprint finish in Libourne to conclude the 207km route seemed perfect for Cavendish to create history, yet his team, Deceuninck-QuickStep, did not manage the breakaway effectively this time.

Mohoric was part of the initial group to break clear inside the final 100km before that section of riders halved in size with 30km to go.

Five kilometres later, the Slovenian seized the initiative as he produced another long-range attack to secure the lead, remaining untroubled as he eased to the finish.

With Cavendish back in the peloton, it was Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Casper Pedersen (Team DSM) who claimed second and third respectively in the sprint.

Yellow jersey holder Tadej Pogacar had an easy time of it, as his procession into Paris gets well and truly underway.

Barring any problems in Saturday's time trial, Pogacar is a certainty for the general classification, king of the mountains and young rider triumphs.

STAGE RESULT

1. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) 4:19:17
2. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) +0:58
3. Casper Pedersen (Team DSM) +0:58
4. Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) +:1:02
5. Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:08

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 79:40:09
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:45
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:51

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 304
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 269
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 216

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

A shorter and flatter route than last year’s ride to La Planche des Belles Filles, the 31km time trial towards Saint Emilion will suit the specialists in this discipline and is unlikely to be as dramatic as the last Tour’s equivalent test, which saw Pogacar snatch victory from Primoz Roglic.

Tadej Pogacar sealed the king of the mountains jersey and consolidated his dominance of this year's Tour de France with a second successive stage win.

Defending champion Pogacar stormed to victory up the Col du Portet on Wednesday and, a day later, he was charging clear of nearest general classification rivals Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) to clinch another summit success.

On the final mountain stage before the Tour rolls towards Paris, UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar was in a four-man breakaway with around 700 metres to go, and it was at that stage he made his move.

With Movistar's Enric Mas having run out of gas, Pogacar propelled himself through into the final part of the second hors categorie climb of Thursday's 129km route through the Pyrenees.

Pogacar was able to enjoy his win as he went over the line, with Vingegaard nipping ahead of Carapaz into second place – another repeat from Wednesday.

With the Luz Ardiden climb the final mountain of this year's Tour, Pogacar also won the race for the polka-dot jersey, taking it from Wouter Poels.

It capped a troubling day for Bahrain Victorious, whose team hotel and coach was raided by French police.

The only chance of Pogacar letting his grasp on the yellow jersey slip will come in Saturday's time trial. The equivalent stage last year saw Primoz Roglic lose his lead to Pogacar, who will almost certainly win the general classification, mountains classification, and young rider's classification for the second straight year.

"Why should I be worried, sometimes you can have a really bad day on a TT, let's hope it’s not a repeat," said Pogacar, who is only the fourth rider to win consecutive summit finishes at the Tour

"It was a game for me since I started, I'm enjoying playing it."

The day's intermediary sprint gave Mark Cavendish cause for celebration, as he took 11 points with a fifth-place finish, seeing Michael Matthews lose ground in the hunt for the green jersey.

Cavendish, and his Deceuninck–Quick-Step team-mates, coasted over the line with six minutes to spare before the time cut off, and will now aim for a record-setting win on Friday.

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 75:00:22
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:45
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:51

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 298
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 260
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 208

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

A 207km rolling route follows on Friday, which should result in a sprint finish in Libourne – Cavendish is the rider to watch, as he looks to make it 35 stage victories at the Tour de France.

French police carried out searches as they targeted the Bahrain Victorious team in Pau ahead of stage 18 of the Tour de France.

The reason for the raid on the team hotel has not been announced.

Team chiefs confirmed officers requested training information and searched rooms of the cyclists.

A Bahrain Victorious statement read: "On the eve of stage 18 of Tour de France, Team Bahrain Victorious were subject to an investigation by French police. The team were monitored by a number of officers following their arrival after stage 17 to the team hotel in Pau.

"The investigation involved a search of riders' rooms as part of the process. Despite being unaware of the investigation reasons, the team was also requested to provide all training files which were compiled and presented to the officers as requested."

Technical director Vladimir Miholjevic stressed there had been no wrongdoing on the part of the team and said the police action had been a disruption to planning for Thursday's stage.

He said: "Following stage 17, we were greeted by several French police officers. We were not given a warrant to read through, but the team complied with all the officers' requests.

"We are committed to highest level of professionalism and adherence to all regulatory requirements and will always be cooperating in a professional manner.

"The process had impacted our riders' recovery and meal planning and as a professional team, the well being of our team is a key priority."

 

The team's highest-ranking rider overall in this year's tour is Peio Bilbao, who sat 10th in the individual general classification going into Thursday's journey from Pau to Luz Ardiden.

Wouter Poels held top spot in the king of the mountains rankings, while Sonny Colbrelli was third in the points standings.

Bahrain Victorious, who had stage wins earlier in the Tour by Matej Mohoric and Dylan Teuns, stood collectively in first place in the team classification.

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