It’s Friday 1st July 2022, it’s cold, wet and windy here in Copenhagen; and the 2022 Tour de France has just started.

This annual sporting event is being contested by 176 riders from 22 teams; over a distance of 3350 kms (2081mls), ending on the Champs Elysees in the centre of Paris on Sunday 24th July.

What does this, the 109th edition of the race hold?

Over 24 days of racing, there are 21 stages; of which 6 are Flat stages, 7 are Hilly stages and 6 Mountain stages. There are also 2 Individual Time Trials. However, no Team Trial this year and this was always my favourite stage.

This year there are 3 Rest Days (normally only 2 Rest days). The ‘extra’ day is on Monday 4th July, with the transfer from Denmark to France for Stage 4.

The first Time Trial is today, on Day 1, in Copenhagen and the second one is on Day 20.

The Winner of the Yellow Jersey (the overall Leader) will receive €500,000. The Green (Points) Jersey €250,000 and the Polka Dot (Mountain Points) Jersey also €250,000.

There are also daily prizes for each day’s winners, in the various categories.

This year, as well as starting in Denmark, (the most northerly start in the history of the race), the tour will also take in a couple of stages in Switzerland, (Stages 8 & 9). Although the race will be right down in the south west corner of France next to the Spanish Border in the Pyrenees, the riders don’t wander across the border.

All the top GC (General Classification) riders are here; last year’s winner Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates); Wout van Art, Jonas Vingegaard, and Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma).

Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates (Team Ineos Grenadiers) will be representing the UK. While Thibault Piot (FDJ) and Guilliame Martin (Cofidis) are representing the host nation.

Also riding is Triple Tour de France Winner, Chris Froome. (Israel Start-Up Nation). After his crash, he finished in 131st place (out of 141 finishers), with a time of 4hrs 12 mins behind the winner Tadej Pogacar. As always, Chris is very optimistic, and expects this year to be a ‘real comeback’ year.

However, very much missing from the race are Mark Cavendish (Quickstep-Team Alpha Vinyl), who has not been selected and Julian Alaphilippe Cavendish (Quickstep-Team Alpha Vinyl), who is still suffering ligament damage.

This year will also see the welcome return of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

An eight stage race starting at the base of the Eiffel Tower on Sunday 24th July and finishing on Sunday 1st July at the Super Planche Des Belles Filles.

The big question on everybody’s mind is; is this going to be a COVID free event?

Judging by the crowd that have turned out to see this the first day of the Tour – yes it is! Nobody is wearing a face mask, and looking at the crowds lining the route, no social distancing is being observed.

However, all the teams, the riders and the support crews are all walking around with their masks on. All the riders and teams are being tested twice a day, if anyone tests positive, they have to have further tests to see the level of infection, and there is a scale that says – low level – ok to continue, and at the higher levels, you have to go home.

Let us hope that this year’s race is not plagued by positive tests and that we have great 24 days of competitive racing.

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