The greatest race in cycling took place over the better part of July. Here’s what you need to know about the race, its legacy and its winner!
23 days. 21 events. More than 2,000 miles. The Tour de France is the most difficult, most prestigious race in professional cycling, and over nearly the entire month of July, the best in the sport stepped up to the challenge. Twenty-two teams composed of riders from more than two dozen countries rode all around France, through cities, rural areas and mountains in pursuit of cycling immortality. Here is what you need to know about this year’s race!
The Tour de France was created by Henri Desgrange who held the first race in 1903. Nearly 120 years ago, the race was about 1,500 miles, but those miles were spread out over just six events, meaning that the average event spanned roughly 250 miles. The modern-day race is longer overall, but it’s spread out over the course of three weeks, and the longest leg in the 2022 event is just over 130 miles.
You also won’t need an eagle eye to find the race’s leader. The highly-coveted yellow jersey, known as the Maillot Jaune, is worn by the current overall leader and can be swapped as rankings are adjusted following each event. It was first introduced in 1919 and has become synonymous with not just the race, but with cycling in general.
The 2022 race comprises of 21 stages. Each stage lasts one day and is categorized by its finish or its type. The finishes can be classified as flat, hilly or mountain, with a fourth type of race called an individual time trial. Points are awarded based on the type of race, with wins in flat finishes being the most valuable and wins in mountain finishes being the least valuable. The stages also vary in length and geographic location.
The first stage of the 2022 Tour de France began in Copenhagen, then the fifth stage began in Dunkirk. Finishers finally crossed the line on the breathtaking Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris to close the 21st and final event.
Spectators and Viewers
With 12 million live spectators and 3.5 billion television viewers, the Tour de France is one of the most attended and viewed sporting events in the world. With competitors coming from every corner of the planet, it’s no wonder that the race is able to draw so many fans from 190 different countries. Live spectators are also treated to gorgeous weather and an excellent show, as the tour provides incredible views of France and an up-close and personal experience with the riders.
Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia came into this year’s event looking to defend his back-to-back titles. His win in 2020 made him the youngest winner in more than a century, and in 2021 he became the youngest competitor to win the race twice.
Pogačar, however, fell short this year. After nearly 80 hours of cycling, he was bested by Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark, who finished two minutes and 34 seconds ahead of Pogačar. Pogačar took the lead in Stage 6 but relinquished it to Vingegaard in Stage 11. The two went on to sit atop the leaderboard for the rest of the race in a legendary, nail-biting battle. Just one year after a second place finish for Vingegaard, the 25 year old is only the second Dane to ever don the yellow jersey at the end of the race.
What Does the Winner Get?
In addition to going down in cycling history, the overall winner with the best time takes the podium at the end of the race carrying a hand-crafted trophy and wearing possibly the most desirable prize in the sport: the yellow jersey. Other-colored jerseys are awarded to winners in other categories. For example, the point leader wears a green jersey, the best climber wears a polka dot jersey, and the best young rider wears a white jersey. A 2.3-million-euro pot is also awarded to teams and riders with 500,000 euros going to the overall winner.