2022 in Review: Real Racing in Calais

2022 in Review: Real Racing in Calais

As 2022 draws to a close, we're looking back on some of the highlights of the year in the cycling world.

06 / 07 / 2022 /
50.4056° N
3.4060° E

I struggled in commentary during the first half of this stage, that happens sometimes, granted the racing was quiet yet normally that's not a problem. I just couldn't find my voice, ended up getting lost in Wikipedia at times, in particular reading about Hubert Latham, find out about him in Weird Fact of the Day.

It was a quiet day till it wasn't, as the race got excited so did I, this only happened with 15km to go as Ineos and Jumbo started to pick the pace up on the coast as they approached the final categorised climb. To be honest we didn't expect much to happen, all the sprinters were still there and the climb was only 900m long, and I'm guessing most of the race felt the same. Which is why Jumbo-Visma's tactic worked so well, they had done exactly the same on the first stage of Paris Nice this year, on a similar climb at a similar distance from the finish. They hit the bottom and started sprinting, or as Pete referred to afterwards on our Never Strays Car pod, the "go-till-you-blow" move.

First it was Nathan van Hooydonck, he put everybody in the red and started to string it out till he nuked, at which point gaps were already opening up as riders exploded and lost the wheel, Jumbo were disciplined enough and clearly had it planned because Tiesj Benoot had fought to be there to take it over, he then went till he exploded, by this point gaps were opening up in the first 10 riders, when he pulled off Wout van Aert took over, there was only Adam Yates on his wheel and Vingegaard glued to him, but the acceleration that WvA made even distanced Yates and although Vingegaard could hold the wheel gaps had opened up behind. The rest is history, iconic even, WvA crushed the final 10km and "flew" across the finish line with his arms open like a bird of prey post kill. 

What was most interesting was that once again Vingegaard was marginally better than Roglič, this has been a theme since the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine - this isn't a rumour, it's becoming a theme...

What was also interesting was that Pogačar's super team isn't looking so super, and it's highly likely he's going to be the most isolated of the GC riders today on the cobbles, this wasn't expected as on paper he has one of the strongest teams in the race this year, built solely to protect him. Yet so far, more often than not, he's looked alone. Today's cobbled stage is a risk for him, although let's face it, he's quite good at looking after himself.

Weird Fact of the Day

Arther Charles Hubert Latham, an aviator from the early 1900's, there's a monument to him on the final climb where Jumbo-Visma went ballistic. He was the first person to attempt to fly across the English Channel, during those first attempts he failed because of engine failures, yet that did allow him to become the first pilot to land a plane on a body of water. He eventually did it, and in other flights set the world records for altitude and speed, 155m and 48mph respectively. We spoke about him at some length on our podcast, listen here. There are a couple of other rather amusing stories about him, as tend to always be when looking back at the mad pioneers of bygone days. Yet they're best listened to, as I'll make this dispatch to long otherwise.

CHPT3 Moment of the Day

I think this has to be a team moment, what Jumbo-Visma did was real racing, such commitment and aggression for the sake of it. It was the perfect display of why who dares wins is such a powerful idea. They didn't follow, they unfollowed what was expected and it worked, yet it's the sort of move that takes courage and can just as easily backfire, and that's why it's special.