Tour de France 2022, stage eight
Start location: Dole
Finish location: Lausanne
Start time: 12.05 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.28 BST
The novelist Victor Hugo wrote of Lausanne and its beautiful environs on the shores of Lac Léman: “I saw the lake above the roofs, the mountains above the lake, the clouds above the mountains and the stars above the clouds. It was like a staircase where my thoughts climbed up step by step and broadened at each new height.”
When the riders of the Tour de France reach Lausanne at the end of stage eight of the 2022 Tour, they may have scant energy left to look around and enjoy the scenery; however the uphill category-three finish on the Côte du Stade Olympique will at least give them pause to consider that their bodies will be climbing up step by step, even if their thoughts are not, as they ascend the steep ramps of the 4.8km hill.
The Tour is fast approaching the end of the first week of racing, and Lausanne is an apt point to look both back and forward. The city has historically sat at a crossroads in Europe - people have always needed to travel east and west, and north and south across the continent, and since Lausanne sits right in the middle it’s a logical waypoint. It was a significant stopping point on the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrimage route which linked Canterbury and Rome. Later on, Lausanne was linked with the great cities of northern Italy by engineering feats like the Simplon tunnel. However, the riders of the Tour are getting to Lausanne the old fashioned way: over the Parc Naturel Régional du Haut-Jura. In a demonstration of Swiss neutrality, however, the city is not considered to be either in the Jura or the Alps.
Since the stage finish sits between mountain ranges and even between week one and two of the Tour, it’s apt that the parcours is a classic transition stage. There are plenty of big mountains to come, so the Tour organisers have routed the stage over climbs that don’t exceed category three. The peloton will climb as high as 1,179m altitude, almost a vertical kilometre above the start in Dole, but the profile reveals short climbs and plateaux, rather than the classic Jurassic or Alpine roller coaster. However, the finishing climb is tough, and though the stage win is likely to be contested by the break, it may also put some more gaps in between the GC riders. Anybody who loses time here may feel less in common with Victor Hugo and more with TS Eliot, who wrote part of The Wasteland in Lausanne, while convalescing following a nervous breakdown. “By the waters of Leman, I sat down and wept,” wrote Eliot in his epic poem. There may be some riders in the Tour who do the same today.
Tour de France 2022 stage eight map and profile
Though this isn't a stage which favours pure climbers, stage eight is a difficult one with various punchy inclines that will suit the riders who excel in the Ardennes classics. An early sprint point after 46km could mean that green jersey wearer Wout van Aert and the sprinter's teams will want to keep things together, rather than allowing a break to get away before then. After that point, however, four classified climbs and a summit finish atop the Côte du Stade olympique – which averages 12% for a section – means the punchy climbers will come to the fore.
Tour de France 2022 Predictions and Contenders
We think stage eight could favour a strong breakaway group. After a tough outing on Super Planche des Belles Filles the day before, the GC favourites may be in favour of a quieter day. Plus, the climbs aren't long or hard enough to cause big enough time gaps to make the effort worthwhile for the men gunning to win the yellow jersey.Image: James Startt/Agence Zoom
If things do end in a reduced bunch kick, though, we know that yellow jersey wearer Tadej Pogačar has an unmatched turn of speed after a tough uphill sprint, he proved that on stage six when he effortlessly stormed away from his rivals on the climb in to Longwy. Second behind Pogačar that day was BikeExchange's Michael Matthews, someone else who could perform well on the punchy terrain of stage eight. Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert is another rider who could finish well on the climb up to the "Olympic stadium" but he may be tasked with protecting the team's GC leader, Jonas Vingegaard.
Of the other riders who we've seen perform on this type of punchy terrain before, Benoît Cosnefroy comes to mind. He finished second in both Brabantse Pijl and the Amstel Gold Race earlier this season. Another rider who can perform well on hard, short climbs is La Flèche Wallonne winner Dylan Teuns and the Bahrain - Victorious rider has a strong team behind him.
Michael Woods of Israel Premier-Tech is another rider who could enjoy the steep slopes, as is Ruben Guerreiro of EF Education-EasyPost. Tom Pidcock of the Ineos Grenadiers has been quietly getting stronger as this race continues, and he could be in with a chance on the climbs of stage eight. Alexis Vuillermoz of TotalEnergies is another option, he has won stages like this in the past and put in a promising attack on the stage to Longwy. It would delight the home crowd if David Gaudu of Groupama-FDJ could take a win and the Frenchman has looked strong on the climbs so far.
We're going to bet that team BikeExchange will go all-in for Michael Matthews today and that the Aussie rider will finally get his victory.
Cover image: Zac Williams/SWpix