The 2022 racing season is about to begin. Most cyclists are at their team training camps and doing their best to stay healthy and COVID-19-free. After a 2021 which saw many changes in the calendar, such as having Paris-Roubaix in the fall, and a general feeling of uncertainty that a race may be cancelled at any time, both riders and fans alike are hoping to have some semblance of a normal season this year. If all goes well, there will be a lot of exciting races and matchups in 2022.
Here’s just a taste of what’s to come in 2022.
1. Wout van Aert versus Mathieu van der Poel (We hope!)
The long-awaited cyclocross rivalry did not go according to plan this year. The two superstars took time off after a long road season and began their ‘cross season a little later than usual. This change gave a lot of other riders a chance to shine, but fans everywhere were counting down the days to see the Belgian and Dutchman go at it…again. Unfortunately, after just one race, MdvP pulled the plug on his ‘cross season due to a back injury. The reigning world champ is doing his best with his team to make sure he’s good to go for the spring races. Meanwhile, van Aert, after a dominant ‘cross season, also announced he was a no-go for the ‘cross worlds. Both riders are prioritizing their road season for 2022, and we are here for it. If all goes well, and MdvP recovers from his back injury, you can expect to see some fantastic matchups in the Classics and Tour de France, events both riders have both been very public about being their goals.
— Wout van Aert (@WoutvanAert) December 22, 2021
2. Tour de France Femmes
Although there was a Tour de France Feminine more than 30 years ago, an actual Tour de France for women has floundered, with smaller iterations stopping and starting since the ‘80s. Christian Prudhomme is confident that this Tour de France Femmes will last. “The goal is to organize a race that will stay, that will still exist in 100 years,” he said.
The 2022 version will be 1,029 km throughout eight stages. It has two mountain stages, four stages for the sprinters, and two that would suit rouleurs. Just like the men’s race, women will compete for four iconic jerseys: the yellow for GC leader, the green for best sprinter, the polka dots for best climber and the white jersey for best young rider.
— Le Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (@LeTourFemmes) January 1, 2022
The TdF Femmes is poised to be a super exciting race with several hilltop finishes. Dutch rider Marianne Vos has said it’s one of her big goals. Dane Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has said she’ll be targeting stages. Could we see Canada’s Alison Jackson take a TdF stage win? A rider such as Annemiek van Vleuten would also be a good bet to add a Tour stage or two to her palmarès.
Unlike the men’s race, which traditionally finishes on an “easy” ride to Paris, the women will have no such luxury. The final stage is 123-km long and will take on two tough ascents, before the uphill slog to the line in la Planche des Belles Filles. With all the climbing, there will be no room for error. Whoever is poised to keep yellow will have to have great legs the entire stage, all the way to the finish.
3. Pogačar hitting up the Monuments
Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar is planning on riding four of the five monuments in 2022. The Slovenian rider announced he will be at the start line of the Tour of Flanders for the first time ever as well as Milan-San Remo, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia.
Of course Pogačar won both LBL and Il Lombardia in 2021, but it’s exciting to imagine him powering up the Koppenberg during De Ronde. The UAE rider seems to be capable of anything, so don’t be surprised if he adds a few more big wins to his C.V. in 2022.
4. Mark Cavendish breaking the all-time Tour stage record
In 2021, Cav won four stages at the Tour de France equalling the all-time record of 34, set by Eddy Merckx. After several tumultuous years of lackluster results, it was a triumphant return for the former world champ.
The Manx Missile had a rough winter, with a horrific crash during one of the events at the Ghent Six Day, suffering two broken ribs and a collapsed lung. That was followed by a horrific armed robbery as he recovered in Essex. Although both events have him shaken up, he’s currently in Spain preparing for the 2022 season. As of right now though, his Tour slot is not assured. His teammate Fabio Jakobsen recently told a Dutch outlet that he’ll be the fast man for the Tour, but Cav fans are hoping that that will change.
His Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl boss Patrick Lefevere has been his eloquent self, saying he could not confirm if the Brit would ride the Tour. “I don’t know. I’m not Madame Soleil, I don’t have the crystal ball.”
C’mon Pat, read the room and put him in, coach. He’s just gotta win one stage.
5. Women’s Paris Roubaix in April
In October 2021, cycling fans were treated to two amazing Hells of the North. In slick, muddy weather, we saw some incredible racing, including fantastic rides by Canada’s Alison Jackson and Guillaume Boivin.
After a historic first-ever women’s Roubaix, it’s exciting to realize that in 2022, the race will be in its proper slot in 2022. In terms of weather, it’s hard to say what will be worse (or better?) for the women. April in Northern France is just as unpredictable as is October, so it could be another slick day.
The inaugural race saw the women welcomed to the iconic event with properly brutal conditions. Mud-slicked cobblestones claimed many of the favourites. Some crashed out of the race, others recovered after hitting the deck.
Deignan, who won in an 80-km solo attack, nearly suffered that fate. Her back wheel skated out from under her, fishtailing on the mud-covered cobbles before coming back in line. The Trek-Segafredo rider drew on her cyclocross background to stay in control and ride away from this near-disaster moment. Could she repeat again, or will someone like Marianne Vos be the spoiler? Either way, it’s going to be some incredible racing.