Chartres > Tours 213.2km
This is the final race of the year for most of the professional peloton, one last chance to grab a win in 2022. The organisers continue with the gravel sectors, they were introduced back in 2018 and despite QuickStep throwing their toys out of the pram, they continue. This year things have been tinkered with a little, we have three new sectors, with two of the old sectors dropping out. That means we have 10 sectors and 10km of gravel roads, which is an increase of 500m compared to last year. The main difference is the first sector comes around 15km earlier in the race, which means we could see things kick off a little earlier than usual.
Not a bad day with temperatures sitting around 20 degrees. The wind can play a part in this race, but as it’s going to be around 15km/h, I don’t see it having an impact this year.
147.5 Côte de Limeray 1000m at 2.9% – New
148.3 Sector 10 Limeray 900m – New
154.1 Sector 9 Pocé-sur-Cisse 1000m – New
164 Côte de Goguenne 700m at 7.2%
165.7 Sector 8 La Grosse Pierre 1600m
168.8 Sector 7 Châteaux de Valmer 400m
171 Côte de Bois Chançay 1000m at 4%
172.4 Sector 6 Chançay a Reugny 900m
181.6 Côte de la Vallèe du Vau 1100m at 4%
182.2 Sector 5 Noizay 500m
185.7 Sector 4 Les Epinettes 1200m
186.7 Côte de la Rochère 400m at 9.8%
187.7 Sector 3 Vernou 1000m – New
192 Côte de la Vallèe Chartier 600m at 6.5%
193.8 Sector 2 Peu Morier 1600m
197.6 Côte de Vouvray 700m at 4.8%
201.6 Sector 1 Rochecorbon 800m
204 Côte de Rochecorbon 700m at 5.1%
We’ve seen in recent years; this race is all about anticipating the moves and getting ahead of the race. The winning move normally goes far from home, that’s normally because domestiques get dropped and there’s not enough riders left to chase the front group. In isolation the climbs and sectors are hard, but what I love is the placement of them, most of the sectors come straight after a punchy climb. This means gaps are already starting to form with riders on the limit, then it explodes on the gravel, it really is a beautiful race to watch.
FDJ are usually the team to control most of the race, and last year they got the win they’d been chasing for a few years. Démare is back and he’ll be one of their main options, with Stefan Küng also providing a big threat in this style of race, but he always seems to be unlucky here. Looking at their line up, I think they’ll once again be one of the teams who grabs the race by the scruff of the neck. I would also expect to see lots of Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo, both teams are full of quality riders who’ll love the look of this race.
As in all races like this, having a strong team is a big advantage, especially if you can get a man up the road. The nature of this race means a big sprint is incredibly unlikely, but three of the last four winners have had a good sprint. The gravel sectors and punchy climbs favour the classics riders, and that also includes strong sprinters. To win this race you need a huge amount of power, but you also need to be a good enough climber to cope with the punches along the way.
FDJ – Démare and Küng are their big hitters, and both can win this race. Démare was brilliant last year, hunting down the front group and smashing the sprint. His recent form has been impressive, but he must be a little frustrated with all his second places. Since mid-August he’s done 10 one-day races and finished runner up on six occasions. He would have liked more wins, but that’s still an excellent run of form and he’ll start as one of the big favourites. Küng was very unlucky not to win the TT world championship in Wollongong, but it shows that his current form is still good. He was brilliant in the spring, if he can find those legs, he’ll be very hard to beat in this race. FDJ will hope to have both in the front group for the finale of the race, that should give them an advantage over the other teams.
Christophe Laporte – what a year it’s been for Laporte, easily one of the best signings in 2022. A crash in the BEMER Cyclassics knocked him down a little, but silver in the world championship and first in Binche shows that he’s back at his best and ready to fight for another win in what’s been a memorable year. Jumbo-Visma have a strong team to support, I expect Laporte to be one of the men fighting for the win.
Benoît Cosnefroy – third and second in this race, all that’s missing is the win. This is a route that he loves, he’s one that uses the hills to his advantage, not many can match his punch when close to the limit. His recent form has been impressive, but he must be a little worried about all the fast finishers here, it’s going to be hard for him to win any type of sprint.
Arnaud De Lie – what a year for the youngster, and he still seems to be going strong. He’s won many sprints, but don’t be fooled, he’s much more than just a fast finisher. In recent races he’s been teased into doing too much work early in the day, he needs to be a little calmer, and save his bullets for the final 30km.
Jasper Philipsen – was up there last year but faded in the closing stages. The Belgian climbs very well, but he’ll be hoping the front group is a little bigger than it’s been in the last couple of editions.
Rasmus Tiller –it’s been a tough year for the big Norwegian, but he’s hit some form just at the right time for this race. He finished in the main group at the worlds and was second to Laporte in Binche, he’s got a good chance in this race. Tiller is one of the few riders in the bunch who’s a specialist in the off-road races, he always seems to be challenging for the win when we hit gravel or cobbles.
Axel Zingle – I’m a big fan of the young Cofidis rider. 2022 has been his breakthrough season, three wins has been a significant achievement. I’m sure he’s destined for big things, why not round off the year with another success.
Matis Louvel – another young French rider with a growing reputation. He recently took his first win of the season in Druivenkoers – Overijse, so the current form is good. He raced well here last year and being a year older and stronger means he should be one of the men to watch.
Matteo Trentin – he’s been on a good run of form, he’s another who always seems to do well at the end of the season. It seems a very long time ago when he was touted as the next big classics star, things didn’t quite work out that way. This is a race he really should be challenging to win, but despite having a fast sprint, I fear he’ll always be with someone quicker than him.
If FDJ play their cards right, they have the numbers to win this race. Yes, Laporte is looking very strong, but I’ll take a solo win for Stefan Küng.
End of the Season
Well then, what a year it’s been. This is my 250th preview of the season, the most I’ve ever written in a year. A big thanks to VeloViewer for their sponsorship this year, and a massive thanks to all my readers out there. My aim, as always, is to try and enhance your cycling experience, I hope that’s happened this year. I’ll see you in 2023. Vamos!