Vincenzo Nibali, Mark Cavendish or Julian Alaphilippe: the Tour de France 2022 starts from Denmark, without a few big names in the peloton.
Winner of the 2014 Tour, Vincenzo Nibali (37) will compete in his final Grand Tour on the roads of Spain in August. He skips the Tour de France 2022, he who however made his age lie on the last Giro: 4th at 9’02 from Jai Hindley. The Tour de France has not smiled on the “Shark of Messina” in recent years, except for a stage victory in 2019, in Val Thorens: 30th in 2016, retirements in 2018 and 2021, 39th in 2019 However, Nibali has not ruled out being at the start of the world championships, in Wollongong, Australia, in December.
At 37, he has just won the title of British champion and he is chasing Eddy Merckx’s record, with 34 stage victories in the Tour de France. However, despite a stage on the Giro and a prestigious success at Milan-Turin, he was not retained by the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team, which will rely on the youth of Fabio Jakobsen (25) for the sprints. “I have just discovered the Quick-Step selection for the Tour de France on the networks, wrote Cavendish. I am sad not to be able to defend my green jersey and to be able to write a little more of the history of the Tour.
This is the psychodrama of this beginning summer: is it normal for Julian Alaphilippe to be deprived of the Tour de France and for France to be deprived of Alaphilippe? Victim of a terrible fall on Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which had left him with broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade and a pneumothorax, Julian Alaphilippe returned to competition at the French championships, where he worked on the coronation of his teammate Florian Sénéchal. This is the first time since 2009 that the reigning world champion has missed the Tour de France. Julian Alaphilippe wore the yellow jersey for 14 days in 2019, before being defeated by the combined action of hail and Bernal. Tom Steels, Quick-Step manager said: “Julian has worked hard to get back into shape, after what happened to him in Liège, but we feel that for a rider like him, it’s always important to be at the top of his game and to be able to fight with the best of the pack. That’s why we decided to give him more time to recover.”
On January 24, Egan Bernal (25) hit a bus at his home in Colombia: it took him five operations to restore some order to his skeleton, which had around twenty fractures (vertebrae, ribs, femur, kneecap ). Bernal (Ineos), who had won the Tour de France in 2019 and the Tour of Italy in 2021, will of course not be at the start of the Tour de France, but he is on his way to competition: on June 8, he posted a video where he is seen sprinting uphill. Comment: “Difficult does not mean impossible. It means you have to work hard.” On June 27, he climbed a pass as a dancer and said: “Five months ago I was practically dead and today I can think about the competition again.”
A Tour de France without the Belgian champion! An anomaly in the history of cycling. The powerful Tim Merlier (29 years old, 1.85 m and 80 kilos) was not selected by the Alpecin-Fenix team the day after his second national title. It is rumored that the team leaders did not want a rider who is announced to be leaving for the Quick-Step. Credited with 22 victories in his career, Tim Merlier made a strong impression last year in Pontivy, when he won the third stage of the Tour, marked by massive falls and the injury of Caleb Ewan. A few weeks earlier, he had won the second stage of the Giro.
Remco Evenepoel is this prodigy who annoys His Majesty Eddy Merckx, when he is portrayed as a possible successor. “He has a lot of qualities, he’s a great athlete, but he’s not complete enough. He will win races, he has above-average physical strength, but he has shortcomings in the mountains, downhill,” said the five-time Tour de France winner. This year, Evenepoel (22) has already won the time trials of the Belgian championship and the Tour of Switzerland, the Tour of Norway and above all Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He hoped to enter the top 10 of the Tour de Suisse, but a poor performance in the 5th stage – 2 minutes lost on the leaders – doomed his ambitions. He reserves himself for the Tour of Spain, like Jai Hindley, the recent winner of the Giro.
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