Mark Cavendish says there will not be many opportunities to snatch the Tour de France stage record for himself, after a 2022 route revealed it would not favour sprinters.
The British cyclist already knew he would be returning to the scene of his Road World Championship victory for the Grand Depart, with Copenhagen in Denmark kicking off next year’s event with a flat, 13km time trial.
But the full route was revealed in Paris on Thursday, with Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland all seeing part of the action for the sport’s most prestigious road race.
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The challenge for the yellow jersey will focus on summit finishes. The picturesque hairpins of L'Alpe d'Huez return, as do the cobbles which feature in Paris-Roubaix - a feature which has been missing from the line-up since 2018.
After leaving Denmark, the Tour will take in the Alps, the Vosges and the Pyrenees, while the penultimate stage will be in the form of a 40km time trial, finishing in Rocamadour in the south of the country.
Cavendish made a stunning return to form in 2021, winning the green jersey at the Tour and collecting four stage wins to move to 34 in his career - the same as Merckx. But he is not optimistic there will be many chances to take that title for himself.
"It's going to be a very hard Tour de France,” he said at the launch.
Of course, starting from Copenhagen, where I became world champion, brings back a lot of great memories, but those first days after the time trial could be really hectic.
"There aren't as many chances for the fast men as in the past, so you'll need to try to make the most out of every opportunity."
Tadej Pogacar will be chasing a third straight win at next year’s event, and he believes it is a course set up for an all-rounder.
"It's pretty great. It's a complete course," he said.
"From the first stage to the last stage, we have everything: sprints, echelons, cobbles, big climbs, small climbs, time trials.
"I'm really looking forward to it. I'll do some recons because it will be necessary after we saw what's on the plan. I'm pretty excited."
The 2022 Tour de France will start on July 1 and finish July 24 with the traditional finish at the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
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