Tour de France 2022 – Tom Pidcock wins at the top of Alpe d’Huez, Chris Froome third, Jonas Vingaard defends yellow
Briton Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) became the youngest winner of the mythical Alpe d’Huez with a sensational solo victory on stage 12 of the Tour de France 2022. The 22-year-old beginner took part in a downhill masterclass in the descent of the Col du Galibier – the first of three non-category climbs – before joining his compatriot Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) in pursuit of the morning breakaway of the day.
Once among the nine-man lead move, the British pair played at the front of the race as the move was narrowed to five riders over the Col de la Croix de Fer before Pidcock cleared with 8km remaining on the final climb of Alpe d ‘Huez. South African Louis Meintjes (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) took second ahead of Froome, who faded to third place but put in his best performance on the bike since a life-threatening accident during the Criterium du Dauphine in 2019.
Pidcock’s stunning victory caps off a great year for the British tyro, who has won an Olympic gold medal in mountain biking, a world championship in cyclo-cross and now a summit finish on the iconic Alpe d’Huez during his debut on the Tour.
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Further down the mountain, amid seas of spectators lining each of the famous 21 hairpin bends with flares and flags, yellow jersey Jonas Vingaard (Jumbo-Visma) had to stem a series of attacks from white jersey Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). A day after snatching the yellow from the Slovenian’s shoulders, the Danish race leader stuck to the wheel of the double champion each time while the Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) fought back several times.
Nothing separated Pogacar, Vingaard and Thomas as they crossed the line 3’23” behind Pidcock, who becomes only the second British rider – after team-mate Thomas in 2018 – to win one of the steepest climbs prestigious in cycling.
On a good day for Ineos Grenadiers, Thomas climbed to third place on the podium, just four seconds behind defending champion Pogacar, who still trails Vingegaard by 2’22”. Adam Yates climbed back into the top five after s be beaten to 12th on the stage, while Pidcock’s historic triumph saw the Yorkshireman return to the top 10 in eighth at 7’39”.
“Even if I get dumped every day now, I don’t care, it has become my Tour de France. A stage win in my first Tour – that’s not bad,” an ecstatic Pidcock said in his post-race interview.
‘Not bad, huh!’ – Pidcock on the heroism of Alpe d’Huez
“The idea was to get into the breakaway and I lost enough time yesterday to have some freedom. If I had climbed the Galibier climb I don’t think I would have escaped, but in the descent I did not think that people would have risked chasing me.
“The gap was small enough to get over and it worked perfectly in the end. It was definitely one of my best experiences in cycling – it was unreal. When you literally slalom through flags, fists and God knows what else, you can’t experience this anywhere else than Alpe d’Huez.
Pidcock was full of admiration for his compatriot Froome after the four-time champion played a huge role in the queen stage of the race after his litany of struggles since his crash three years ago.
“It was pretty nice communicating with him,” Pidcock said. “We worked well together. He’s a legend and I just beat him at Alpe d’Huez. Maybe he’s not as fast as he used to be, but he’s still Chris Froome, right?
Incredible scenes as Pidcock drives through fans on Alpe d’Huez at Tour de France
But it was a bad day for the host country on July 14, with no French rider finishing in the top 10 and Romain Bardet (Team DSM) losing two places in the general classification to 2’35”. Bardet and his compatriot David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) could not keep up with the steep tempo imposed by the Jumbo-Visma team from Vingaard on the first slopes of the final climb, the duo finishing 11th and 13th respectively while Gaudu retained its seventh place in the classification.
How the race was won
With all eyes on the local riders on France’s Quatorze Juillet national holiday, Warren Barguil – the last French winner on July 14 in 2017 – was sniffing the front of the peloton at kilometer zero.
But it was American Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) who stood out solo as the race left Briançon ahead of the first of three massive mountain tests. Powless was joined at the start of the Col du Galibier by the French Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Matis Louvel (Arkea-Samsic), the Austrian Sebastian Schonberger (B&B Hotels-KTM), the Portuguese Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) and the Belgian Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).
During the long ascent to the top of the Col du Lautaret before the last ascent of the southern slope of the Galibier, the Italian Guilio Ciccone (Trej-Segafredo) broke away from the peloton with the South African Louis Meintjes – punctuated by his Intermarche -Wanty -Gobert teammate Georg Zimmermann – in pursuit.
“Heart in Mouth” – Pidcock flies past rivals at terrifying speeds on descent
Viewers were then treated to something a rarity since his horrific crash in the Dauphine in 2019: a significant attack from Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech). A two-time stage winner on July 14 and a two-time finisher in yellow at Alpe d’Huez, Froome broke away from the main Galibier peloton moments before Perez swept past his fellow escapees to take the KOM points. at the top.
On the descent, Froome was joined by fellow countryman Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) who purposely pulled away from the peloton, reaching unfathomable speeds as he headed up the Col du Telegraph. The British duo combined successfully, joining the leaders shortly after the short climb before the descent of the Telegraph.
Pidcock’s confidence was such that the 22-year-old rookie cleared with Powless near the bottom before the nine leaders came together on the valley road ahead of the second hors category test, the Col de la Croix de Fer, with the gap now above. seven minutes.
Stage 12 Highlights: Pidcock flies away, Froome plays, Vingaard fends off Pogacar
A day after tumbling out of the top 10 at Col du Granon, Pidcock was clearly in a bit of a rut on the long 29km climb, his acceleration about 6km from the summit causing the first jolt and seeing Oliveira, Gooseens, Schonberger and Perez at to move back.
With Jumbo-Visma closing the gap to less than five minutes with a brisk pace, Ciccone took the points on top before the five leaders extended their lead over six minutes on the fast run to Alpe d ‘Boo, where Pidcock recorded a top speed. over 100 km/h.
Pidcock then proved he was equally accomplished uphill as he was downhill fast, with the versatile Ineos Grenadier launching the first attack with around 8km remaining to bring down Powless and Ciccone. Neither Meintjes nor Froome gave up easily, but Pidcock seemed to thrive thanks to the hordes of fans lining the roads. His winning margin over Meintjes was 48 seconds on the line, with Froome taking third at 2’06” and Powless fourth at 2’29”.
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Ciccone was caught near the finish as the battle between yellows and whites swept away with Thomas Dig and the likes of Spaniard Enric Mas (Movistar) and American Vingaard team-mate Sepp Kuss also returned to the fold .
After solid changes to the front in Steven Kruijswijk, Primoz Roglic and green jersey Wout van Aert, Jumbo-Visma leader Vingegaard was relatively fresh when Pogacar launched his inevitable attack with around four kilometers to go. It was the first in a series of accelerations from Pogacar, which each time met its match against its rival Vingaard.
Every attack and every response was followed by a brief lull that allowed Thomas back into the fold – the top three riders of the 109th edition of the Tour finally crossed the line together after two extraordinary days in the Alps.
The Tour continues on Friday with the 192.6km Stage 13 from Bourg d’Oisans to Saint-Etienne, a bumpy race featuring three lower category climbs before a possible sprint finish.
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