10 moments that marked professional cycling in 2022
With the year 2022 coming to an end, it's time to look back on the most spectacular moments of a season that has not disappointed cycling fans. Spectacular solo rides, dizzying downhills and violent attacks remain in the memory. This is our selection of the most spectacular days we have enjoyed this year.
The ten moments of the 2022 season that we have enjoyed most
Often, many people remember the cycling of the 80's and 90's, recalling the offensive and uncontrolled nature of those races. The older ones even allude to the 70s, remembering the duels between Merckx and Ocaña, and further back, we have to rely on what the chronicles tell, frequently stories with a lot of literature based on statements collected here and there in view of the limited live broadcasting of the races.
Fortunately, in recent years, with the arrival of a new generation of young cyclists who, with total boldness, do not shy away from any battle, we are enjoying a new golden age that shuts the mouths of the critics who blamed the decline of cycling's spectacle on earpieces and power meters.
Therefore, it was not easy to choose the 10 best moments of a season that ended several months ago but from which we still keep in our minds episodes of great cycling.
1. Paris - Nice: 8th stage
Traditional stage full of passes around Nice to settle a race that Jumbo-Visma had controlled in favor of Primoz Roglic. In fact, on the first day of the race they had the luxury of setting a hellish pace on the climb leading to the finish, cutting the entire peloton and leading Primoz Roglic, Wout Van Aert and Christophe Laporte.
On this last day Roglic arrived with a comfortable lead of 47 seconds over Simon Yates who, on a cold and rainy day, unleashed hostilities from afar. In the final part of the race, when it seemed that the gap was under control, Primoz Rogliz began to show weakness. He was lucky to have by his side an immense Wout Van Aert who was able to take him almost in his arms on the last climb of the stage and neutralize the advantage of the British rider.
2. Milan – San Remo
With eagerness, as every year, we awaited the arrival of the Classicissima, the first of the monuments of the season, which was presented with a long list of possible contenders for victory. A practically flat profile with a violent finish after 300 km turned it into a unique event.
Spectacular ascent to the Poggio with Wout Van Aert and Pogacar trying to break the race and a breathtaking descent of Matej Mohoric, who had crowned in 5th position, that no one could follow and allowed him to arrive alone at the finish line in San Remo. After the race his secret to victory came out: he had equipped his Merida Scultura with a dropper seatpost like those used in mountain biking, which gave him more control of the bike and better aerodynamics to gain those few seconds on the descent that were decisive in the end.
3. Strade Bianche
The classic of the white roads of Tuscany continues to be considered, despite being a young race and a lower mileage than other classics, as the hypothetical 6th monument, giving us in recent seasons images of cycling from the past.
However, this edition was not being too remarkable except for the crash suffered by Julian Alaphilippe, the first of several crashes that have affected the season of the then World Champion.
We had to wait until the hardest part of Monte Santa Maria, the climax of the race, where a portentous Tadej Pogacar saw clearly the moment to unleash a furious attack on the hardest slopes of this ascent. Only Carlos Rodriguez was able to react but the Slovenian was unbeatable. Alejandro Valverde took a second place of great merit, showing that, in the season of his retirement, he still had a lot of cycling in his legs.
4. Tour of Flanders
The week of the cobblestones that begins with the Tour of Flanders and concludes with Paris-Roubaix is, without a doubt, one of the most awaited moments of the year for cycling fans due to the iconic nature of these races.
In this 2022 edition we had the doubt of what would be able to do a Tadej Pogacar who, in an atypical calendar for a Tour de France winner, was making his debut on the Flemish walls. A few days earlier he had already shown his skills in some of the races that precede the second monument, although his lack of experience in these races, so difficult to read, was also evident.
Not so in the Tour of Flanders where he was the one who destroyed the race on the last ascent to Oude Kwaremont. On his wheel, a Mathieu Van der Poel who had not had a good start to the year after having to abruptly end his cyclocross season with a back injury. The Slovenian tried in Paterberg without result. It looked like it would all be decided in a two-man sprint, but a few meters from the finish in Oudenaarde, they were caught by their pursuers. Mathieu used his speed to achieve his best result of the year while Pogacar was overtaken and had to settle for a bitter 4th place.
With the cobblestones behind and the Giro d'Italia just around the corner, the Ardennes classics are a peculiar moment in which classics and touring cyclists mix to give us races of uncertain outcome. As surprising, but not unexpected, was the development of the 4th monument of the season, in which a prodigious Remco Evenepoel gave us an exhibition that had not been seen for years in this race.
Remco once again made La Redoute, once so decisive and which in recent seasons had fallen into irrelevance, the hot spot of the race. At 30 kilometers to the finish, right on the false flat that crowns La Redoute, was the moment chosen by Remco to launch an unappealable attack to which no one was able to give an answer. A superb ride that led him to score this prestigious event.
6. Tour de France: 4th stage
After an anodyne start in Denmark, the Tour de France returned to France with a nervous stage through the Norman lands between Dunkerque and Calais. A day that Wout Van Aert, freed from his gregarious duties, had in his sights.
Van Aert wanted no surprises. A small hill 10 kilometers from the finish served him to open a few seconds gap over the group. Van Aert made a display of strength that helped him to secure the yellow jersey that he would wear during the first week and in which he gave us moments of real enjoyment.
7. Tour de France: 11th stage
After a first contact with the mountains in the Planche des Belles Filles, the Tour arrived in the Alps and offered us a monstrous day that, despite the moderate mileage, included in its route the return to the Col de Granon, only climbed on a previous occasion and that gave us the victory of Eduardo Chozas. A mountain that was preceded by the mythical Télégraphe-Galibier.
Few could have expected what we experienced on this day when at the start of the Galibier began a carousel of attacks by Jumbo-Visma leaders Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard trying to break the resistance of the then leader Tadej Pogacar, who was responding to all the attacks without any hint of fear or cold-bloodedness. It would even be him who would go on the offensive in the final part of the final pass in a stage disputed the old-fashioned way.
However, the Slovenian's defense would give way on the ramps of the Col du Granon, where a breakdown, also an image taken from the cycling of other times, made him give up and leave the general classification on a platter to a solid Jonas Vingegaard, who was rewarded for the brave tactics carried out by him and his teammates.
8. Tour de France: 12th stage
The next day, again the Galibier, but in the opposite direction, allowed us to enjoy one of those images that TV channels will put us on loop when remembering this season 2022 and that in social networks deserves a publication of those recurrent that every so often reappears.
After the war for the general classification of the previous day, it was expected to be a day for a breakaway to take the victory on such an iconic stage as the Alpe d'Huez. That's why we lived a tremendous fight for it in the initial part in which a small group was established ahead during the climb to the Galibier that seemed the final selection.
Nobody expected that in the last meters of the climb Tom Pidcock would break away from the peloton and in a tremendous display of downhill technique, with no one but a resurgent Chris Froome who was riding in no man's land, able to follow him to link up with the lead. The outcome we already know, making his class count in the 21 curves of the Alpe d'Huez to achieve his first victory in the Tour de France in one of the dream scenarios for any cyclist.
9. Clásica de San Sebastian
After choosing not to race either the Giro or the Tour, Remco Evenepoel had returned to competition in a quiet way in the Tour of Norway, a lower level race in which he won with total dominance. For this reason, and for the exhibition he had given a couple of years earlier on this same stage, he was one of the main favorites for the Clásica de San Sebastián.
What we did not expect was the outcome that occurred. Erlaizt climb and Remco launched his offensive, to which only Simon Yates tried to respond unsuccessfully. The rest, a repetition of what happened in Liège, with an unappealable ride that took him to the streets of the capital of Gipuzkoa to add a new txapela to his collection.
10. Wollongong Road World Championships
The 2022 World Championship to be held on Australian soil was open to surprises given the route chosen for the occasion, which on paper, did not show enough hardness to break the race despite the mileage. There was even talk of a possible sprint finish. The race began with a bumpy start after Mathieu Van der Poel, another of the possible contenders for the victory, dropped out in the first kilometers after an incident at the hotel that ended with the cyclist making a statement at the police station and returning to bed in the very early hours of the morning.
However, we could see one of the races of the year. Remco Evenepoel, who arrived at the World Championship after a resounding triumph in La Vuelta a España, did not speculate in Wollongong either, launching a hard and unexpected attack with 2 laps to go that, after the third ride of the year, allowed him to win solo and close in style a wonderful season.