The Tour de France is fast approaching and there will be plenty of Australian interest over the three weeks with Ben O’Connor and Caleb Ewan leading the charge.
Cadel Evans is the only Australian to have won the Tour de France back in 2011, but Australia have enjoyed further success in the world’s greatest bike race.
Sprint star Robbie McEwan won the green jersey three times in 2002, 2004 and 2006, while Baden Cook and Michael Matthews won the same jersey in 2003 and 2017 respectively. Both Matthews and Ewan will be chasing it again in 2022.
Australia has just enjoyed more Grand Tour success with Jai Hindley winning the Giro d’Italia and they will be hoping to keep the good times rolling when the Tour de France gets underway next month.
O’Connor is the big hope to go well in the General Classification. But there is plenty more to look forward to with the green jersey and stage wins also up for grabs.
So let’s take a look at Australia’s biggest hopes.
What: Tour de France 2022
Where: Denmark and France
When: 1st July to 24th July 2022
O’Connor, who is priced at 33/1 to win the Tour de France, admits he has just taken great inspiration from his good friend Hindley who caused a big upset to win the Giro d’Italia.
It will take an even bigger upset for O’Connor to win the Tour de France, but strange things can happen on a such an unpredictable race and he should be right in the mix.
If all goes to plan then Tadej Pogacar looks the man to beat, while Primoz Roglic, Jonas Vingegaard and Geraint Thomas will also fancy their chances.
However O’Connor showed in 2021 what a real threat he is. The West Australian, who rides for AG2R, took out a stage and just missed out on the podium in Paris when finishing fourth overall.
It was still an outstanding performance. O’Connor had a good Criterium du Dauphine in the build up to this year’s Tour so is clearly in good touch.
The General Classification is without doubt the number one goal for O’Connor. But if things do not go to plan and he loses time then expect him to go for stage wins.
Ewan is arguably the fastest sprinter in the peloton, but unfortunately for him, being the fastest does not always win you the green jersey.
He has yet to win it but did come second behind Peter Sagan in 2019. Ewan had set his sights on the green jersey in 2021 only to suffer a bad crash on stage three which ruled him out of the rest of the Tour.
It remains to be seen if Ewan will target green again or revert to chasing stage wins. The lead-out from his Lotto Soudal team is not as strong as some of his rivals but he will still fancy his chances of adding to his five Tour de France stage wins.
The race for the green jersey will also be super competitive with Wout van Aert, Peter Sagan and Mathieu van der Poel the hot fancies.
Matthews knows what it is like to win the green jersey and also came close again in 2021 when finishing second behind Mark Cavendish.
He will hope to be in the mix again but his chances could be hampered by the fact his BikeExchange-Jayco team-mate Dylan Groenewegan is also in the hunt for green.
Points could be split between the two so BikeExchange will have to get their planning spot on and a decision could have to be made on who is leader.
At the very least Matthews should get the opportunity to go for stage wins. Matthews has three Tour de France stage wins to his name already and will be keen to add to that in 2022.
The 28-year-old will represent Bahrain Victorius at this year’s Tour and will be looking to finish as high up the General Classification as possible. Haig is priced at 66/1 to win.
Haig will take part in his third Tour de France and he will be hoping for more joy than his previous two attempts.
He finished 38th on his debut in 2019 and was forced to abandon in 2021. Haig has said it will be tough for anyone to beat Pogacar and the Jumbo-Visma duo of Roglic and Vingergaard but the aim is to challenge for the GC and also stage wins.
Another to go well in the Criterium du Dauphine, Haig looks in good touch ahead of the Tour.