Tour de France 2022: Jens Voigt checks the favorites in an interview - Bora with chances of a podium in Paris - Bark Sedov
Tour de France 2022: Jens Voigt checks the favorites in an interview – Bora with chances of a podium in Paris

Tour de France 2022: Jens Voigt checks the favorites in an interview – Bora with chances of a podium in Paris

Tour de France 2022: Jens Voigt checks the favorites in an interview – Bora with chances of a podium in Paris

Jens Voigt expects a lot of spectacle, but also borderline dangerous, from the Tour de France 2022. The German record starter of the Tour of France is critical of the risks of the route and expects many falls with serious consequences.

In the fight for overall victory, the multiple stage winner is looking at the chances of the jumbo duo of Roglic and Vingegaard to overthrow defending champion Pogacar.

From his point of view, a Bora driver could also be represented on the podium in Paris, just like at the Giro d’Italia. But there are also some hot outsiders for the overall standings for the former yellow jersey wearer.

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Let’s start with a look at the big duel for overall victory: Can a double lead like Jumbo or the Ineos trio beat the top favorite Pogacar with alternating attacks?

Jens Voigt: Clearly and unequivocally: No! In my opinion, taking a chief and seven Indians with you is the better choice. Only when you are not sure that you can win do you take a two-pronged approach. But when was the last time that worked? When was the last time a co-captain went all out with a full-throttle attack with 80 kilometers to go and either won the stage and got the jersey – or exploded completely and finished 130th? When was the last time someone risked something like that in order to give a teammate better chances in the end? I’ve never seen that, except maybe with the Schleck brothers because they were brothers. That’s why double or triple strategies almost never work. At Jumbo, Wout Van Aert also has his eye on the green jersey, which makes things difficult for the team.

What makes Pogacar so strong?

Voigt: He’s as strong on the mountain as all or almost all of his competitors. The few riders who can keep up with him uphill are significantly worse than him in the time trial. He almost never falls, hardly ever makes tactical riders and his team is very strong and well balanced. I don’t see how Pogacar can be beaten if he doesn’t do it himself. I think Roglic can still win overall at the Vuelta, but for the Tour I see his team changing to Vingegaard as captain halfway through the race.

Roglic on the duel with Pogacar: “Drive us to top performance”

After the coup at the Giro, how do you assess Bora’s chances of storming the podium with Aleksandr Vlasov for the first time on the Tour?

Voigt: Three weeks ago I would have said that Vlasov has chances for the podium. But how will he have survived his corona infection? If he coped well, I think third place is quite realistic. The team is clever, they can hold back sometimes – and vice versa unpack the hammer if necessary. Just like they did at the Giro. In addition, they have a lot of riders who can go chasing stages – I think they’re capable of more than just one day’s victory, because the team is very strong.

There is nothing to curl up on this tour, every day is super important for anyone who wants the yellow jersey. At each stage in the first week, the organizers have built in a challenge.

As well as the big favourites, who are hot underdogs for a top spot in Paris?

Voigt: Two riders I like are Romain Bardet and David Gaudu. Bardet was very strong in the Giro and very close to the pink jersey until he had to retire. Hopefully he’s recovered well now and is hungry and angry. He’s been on the Tour podium twice and again an underdog for me. Gaudu, on the other hand, can benefit from the fact that his teammate Thibaut Pinot is more likely to go hunting for stages and could be a very strong helper for him in the mountains. In addition, the Australians Jack Haig from Bahrain or Ben O’Connor (ag2r) are good for a top placement.

But the start of the tour in Denmark and northern France will be a big challenge, especially for the contenders in the overall standings…

Voigt: There is nothing to curl up on this tour, every day is super important for anyone who wants the yellow jersey. At each stage in the first week, the organizers have built in a challenge. Be it crosswinds, cobblestones or a nasty little mountain at the finish, like in Calais, and then the first mountain finish on stage 7. The saying is old, but you can really lose the race any day. The drivers will come out of the first week mentally exhausted.

Especially the 2nd stage with the bridge over the Great Belt is a source of discussion: What impression did you take away from the on-site visit?

Voigt: The course already zigzags along the coast before the final, so no matter where the wind comes from that day, there will be sections with edge wind situations. Almost exactly 20 kilometers before the finish line, it’s on to the bridge over the Great Belt – dead straight out onto the open water. The windbreak wall on the bridge is only about 1.5 meters high, so it doesn’t completely protect the drivers. Depending on the wind direction, the Danish safety authorities will decide whether to drive on the right or left of the two lanes: This way, a driver caught in the wind will at least not end up in the water, but in the oncoming lane.

“It’s going crazy”: The trip across the Great Belt under the magnifying glass

That sounds like preprogrammed chaos…

Voigt: The tour boss actually wanted the finish line to be on the bridge, but that’s not possible with all the trucks and the podium. So the whole bridge is driven and the drivers come back to the mainland slightly downhill at probably 75 km/h, there are two 90-degree curves waiting on a slightly narrower road, which will also be exciting. Then it’s only three kilometers to the destination. It’s going to be so dramatic that I’m afraid several favorites for the overall standings will unfortunately lose their chances of a podium finish that day. There should also be a number of falls with broken bones.

Falls will shape the start of the tour

Also on the 3rd and 4th stage there could be wind edge alarms again, before the cobblestones await the drivers on the 5th stage…

Voigt: The pavés are not the biggest difficulty. Cedric Vasseur, the Cofidis team boss and an expert on the route there, explained to me that, in his view, the main problem of this stage is not the cobblestone sections, but the approach to the first of these passages. These 20, 30 kilometers are pretty narrow, with a number of changes in direction, and that will be really stressful and, from his point of view, the most important part of the whole stage.

So the gaps between the favorites could possibly be larger on these stages than on some mountain finishes?

Voigt: That’s exactly how it could happen. On the edge of the wind you lose a minute or more very quickly, that doesn’t happen that often on the mountain, where the gaps between most of the top riders are often much smaller. You can have the best legs in the world when you fall down the narrow streets, but when there are 50 men on the course ahead of you, you can’t get past. So the first week will be extremely important and stressful. Everyone knows that and accordingly all drivers want to be at the front at this one important corner – but that is not possible, there is only space for 20 drivers. That’s why I expect that the first week of the tour will also be marked by many falls.

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Does the Tour de France push the risk too high and put spectacle over safety?

Voigt: I’ll take an example from another sport: It’s as if you suddenly oiled the whole pitch in the middle of a football game: Then it gets more exciting, they slide more – who would do that? No human! I’m a straight freak, it’s super exciting and thrilling for the spectators, but this first week of the Tour de France is about as close to gladiatorship as it gets. We’re just one step away from making arena a real matter of life and death. This is backbreaking work for the drivers, they cannot avoid these risks. You train perfectly, try to stay healthy, comply with the corona regulations – and then a situation destroys six months of work.

It’s often said that a winner of the tour has to be able to cope with every challenge, even wind edges or cobblestones, how do you see that?

Voigt: Yes, versatility is necessary, but there is a difference between a challenging track and carelessly endangering the health of the riders.

Part 2 of the interview with Eurosport expert Jens Voigt about the chances of the German riders in the Tour de France 2022 is available here on Eurosport.de on Thursday!

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