Tour de France 2022 stage 8 preview - Swiss stages offer taste of mountains to come

The Tour de France in 2016, when it was last in Switzerland, passing over the Col des Mosses
The Tour de France in 2016, when it was last in Switzerland, passing over the Col des Mosses which features again on stage 9 in 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Following the first mountain top showdown at La Super Planche de Belles Filles and another dominant performance by Tadej Pogačar, the Tour de France heads into Switzerland through the weekend, offering a taste of what’s to come in the high French Alps early in the second week.

The stages to Lausanne on Saturday and then higher in the Alps to Chatel on Sunday, will indicate what we can except when the riders tackle the Megève runway finish on Tuesday, the mighty Col du Galibier and Hors Category climb to the finish on the Col du Granon on Wednesday and then the Galiber again on Bastille Day, along with the Col de la Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez.

At the moment Tadej Pogačar and his UAE Team Emirates squad are in control of the 2022 Tour de France but the Slovenian’s lead is still a matter of seconds rather than minutes. Even the two time winner cannot relax with Jonas Vingegaard and his Jumbo-Visma team so strong. Ineos Grenadiers too still have multiple cards to play in Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates, Dani Martínez and perhaps even Tom Pidcock.    

The stages to Lausanne and Chalet will be the next tests of Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates squad – the seven riders who will have to work hard to protect him on the rolling Swiss roads while the management will have to design the tactics so that Pogačar can go on to defeat multiple challenges and challengers.

Pogačar is perhaps facing the biggest test of his Tour de France reign and seems to know it. The world is watching to see if the Slovenian ever makes a mistake and if it can cost him victory at the 2022 Tour de France.

The next two stages will be like the opening rounds of a title fight, with jabs and body blows rather than a knock-out punch. But even a good jab can score points and reveal weaknesses that can be exploited later, so Pogačar and his team will have their guard up and their own punches ready to throw.

Across the Jura to Lausanne uphill finish, then higher still to Chatel

Saturday’s 186.3km stage from Dole to Lausanne takes the Tour de France across the French Jura mountains before a descent towards Lake Geneva and the uphill finish near the football stadium above the city centre.

It seems a perfect day for a breakaway, as GC contenders and their teams try to recover from the efforts of Friday’s stage and prepare for the High Alps looming on the horizon.

Those brave enough to go on the attack will have to climb up to the Jura plains, via the Côte du Maréchet and the Côte des Rousses, which is the longest climb of the day at 6.7 kilometres but one of many which makes it another hard day out.

After the Côte des Rousses, the stage stays on the Jura plateau and crosses the border into Switzerland before the 1.5km kick-up to the Côte de Pétra Félix signals the approach of a fast descent to the shores of Lake Geneva.

There will be little time to enjoy the views across the lake as positioning will be vital for the 4.8-kilometre climb up the Côte du Stade olympique. The gradient is highly irregular, like an Ardennes climb. It rises for two kilometres at 6% before descending slightly for a kilometre, then rising again for the last 1.8km. The penultimate kilometre is the steepest at an average 9.5% as the road heads directly up the hillside, with a corner touching 12% under the flamme rouge.

The final 800 metres flatten out again to only 3.4%, helping the faster finishers - either in the breakaway or GC peloton – to produce a final sprint effort.

Could it finally be a day for Michael Matthews? Perhaps. But the stage profile seems to have ‘breakaway’ written on it, with multiple riders who have been sitting patiently in the peloton now itching to attack in search of personal glory.

Stage 9 marks the start of the Alps, with the 192.9km route climbing into the Vaud and Fribourg Cantons in a loop to the east of Lake Geneva. It is on roads the Tour de Romandie often visits, famous for its cheese and chocolate, constant gradients and rolling pastures.  

The start in Aigle will obviously celebrate the UCI and showcase their headquarters on the outskirts of the small town and the World Cycling centre velodrome.

The mayor of Aigle is apparently a big cycling fan and after the 2020 World Road Race Championships were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he used the city’s budget to secure a Tour de France stage start.

Expect the UCI president David Lappartient to be on hand for both stages; in the Olympic capital Lausanne to show his gratitude for recently being made an IOC member and then in Aigle to shows off his own little kingdom, even though everyone knows that Tour de France organiser ASO controls the sport of professional racing.

A haul of points

Most of stage 9 takes place in Switzerland, with only the final eight kilometres on French soil during the climb to Chatel. From Aigle the peloton travels down the Rhône valley to Lake Geneva, then to Montreux, Vevey and Bourg-en-Lavaux to climb the fourth-category Côte de Bellevue begins. It seems the perfect point for a breakaway to establish and for the peloton to let them go once again.

After the Côte de Bellevue, the race route heads north away from the lakeside to the canton of Fribourg, with the intermediate sprint contested in Semsales. Jumbo-Visma may be tempted to control the attacks until the sprint after 56km and drop some sprinters so that Wout van Aert can scoop up more points for the green jersey. Or perhaps the uncontrollable Belgian will again attack.

The route turns south in Bulle and climbs the second-category and very gradual Col des Mosses and then the harder first-category Col de la Croix. It is 8.1km long at 7.6% and so could hurt some of the overall contenders even if it is 50km from the finish.

The 153km Swiss loop ends with a return to Aigle and the riders will quickly cross the valley to climb the first-category Pas des Morgins. It is a real Alpine climb, rising for 15.4 kilometres at an average 6.1%, with a dense section of hairpins after four kilometres.

Having crossed the border into France with 9.1km to go, riders will descend to just before the four-kilometre mark from where the road rises again to the finish at Pré la Joux. The penultimate kilometre of this unclassified finishing climb is the steepest at 7%.

This ninth stage is definitely one for the climbers and it comes before the rest day so there is no need to hold back. That applies equally to the riders hoping to go in the breakaway and win the stage and to any of Pogačar’s rivals who may try to isolate and attack him.

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) seems the ideal kind of rider to be in the break on either or even both days, while younger teammate Quinn Simmons is more suited to Saturday's stage.

Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious), Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan), Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroën), Victor Lafay (Cofidis) or even Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech) seem suited to both, while Andrea Bagioli (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), Guilliaume Martin (Cofidis) and even Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) will perhaps play their breakaway card Sunday. The climb in Lausanne suits a hilly Classics rider, but Sunday’s longer climb up to Chatel is one for real mountain men.

Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) will surely try to defend the polka dots on Saturday in the hope that better climbers like Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels) do not start their assault on the jersey on Sunday, where four climbs, including two category one climbs, offer a haul of points.

PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES FRANCE JULY 08 LR Philippe Gilbert of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal and Silvan Dillier of Switzerland and Team AlpecinFenix cross the finish line during the 109th Tour de France 2022 Stage 7 a 1763km stage from Tomblaine to La Super Planche des Belles Filles 1141m TDF2022 WorldTour on July 08 2022 in Planche des Belles Filles France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Swiss rider Silvan Dillier (Alpecin-Deceuninck) will be among those likely to be trying to make a mark on home soil (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Swiss riders will obviously be inspired on home turf. There are only four in the race this year and Silvan Dillier (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is probably in with the best chance of a win on Saturday.

“I actually live quite far from Lausanne in terms of Swiss distances, so I don't know the finish, but in any case a very special two days for me. My family will come over and it'll be nice to see them on a Grand Tour when you're away from home.” Dillier, who hails from the northern Aarau canton close to Germany, told Cyclingnews.

“I'd like to get in a move if I can but it’s never easy at the Tour. With the rest day coming up, the GC riders might try to take advantage and attack. We could see Pogačar gain time again or even a rival edge away to take seconds. The high Alps are coming soon and so the Swiss stages will be a taste of what is to come.”

Key details of the Swiss stages

Stage 8: Dole to Lausanne

Date: July 9, 2022

Distance: 186.3km

Stage timing: 13:05 - 17:15 CEST

Stage type: Hilly

Stage 9: Aigle to Châtel Les Portes du Soleil

Date: July 10, 2022

Distance: 192.9km

Stage timing: 12:30 - 17:15 CEST

Stage type: Mountain

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.

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