Tour de France 2022: Tom Pidcock takes maiden victory by powering up Alpe d'Huez on stage 12

Pidcock struck a knockout blow with 10km remaining, with Louis Meintjes second and Chris Froome crossing the line third

Tom Pidcock Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) powered up Alpe d'Huez on stage 12 to take the first Tour de France victory of his career, achieved with a solo effort towards the summit finish. 

In doing so the British rider - the reigning Olympic mountain bike gold medallist and World cyclocross champion - fulfilled many pundits' predictions that he could be a force to be reckoned with at the Grand Tours.

Five riders comprised the breakaway on the approach to the iconic Alpe d'Huez climb, with both Pidcock and Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) in contention at the front of the race. Pidcock attacked first on the 8.1% gradient climb, though, 10.5km from the finish line. 

With 21 hairpins and a summit finish, this attack proved decisive. Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Froome tried to match the Briton, but were unsuccessful in their attempts. Meintjes ended up finishing second, with Froome crossing the line third. 

Meanwhile, further down the mountain, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) launched two attacks during the ascent in an attempt to crack yellow jersey leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma). These didn't come to fruition for the reigning champion, though, with Vingegaard answering every question thrown at him. 

The Dane continues to lead the Tour de France, as he maintains his lead of more than two minutes in the general classification. 

HOW IT HAPPENED

Following a thrilling finale up the Col du Granon on stage 11, which saw Jonas Vingegaard take the overall lead of the general classification, stage 12 offered plenty of other opportunities for drama with the iconic Alpe d'Huez climb. 

Yesterday, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) superbly attacked during the final ascent, leaving Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) trailing in his wake. As a result, the Dane enters the twelfth stage wearing the yellow jersey for the first time this Tour, with his lead over Pogačar 2-22 on GC. In fact, Romain Bardet (Team DSM) is second overall, sitting six seconds ahead of the reigning champion. 

Starting in Briançon, stage 12 presented a 165km course which finishes with yet another summit finish up the Alpe d'Huez. Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) won the last time the Tour featured the climb in 2018, as he went onto yellow jersey victory. 

Three hors catégorie climbs featured on the day, which is also Bastille Day - adding further significance to the stage as the French riders were even more desperate to produce a compelling performance. 

The day started with an intermediate sprint to Le Monêtier-les-Bains, followed by the Col du Galibier climb once again. However, the peloton attacked from a different side of the ascent which featured on stage 11, offering a different - but ultimately just as difficult - test. 

Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) immediately attacked, with Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Matis Louvel (Arkéa Samsic) and Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM) soon bridging across to create the day's first breakaway. 

Goossens won the intermediate sprint, coming 12km into the stage, with the break's gap at two minutes. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) picked up some extra points by attacking from the peloton towards the line, causing the bunch to stretch out somewhat ahead of the Col du Galibier climb. 

The breakaway's lead immediately started to dwindle due to counter-attacks within the peloton, as mountains classification leader Simon Geschke (Cofidis) looked to take maximum points of the day's climbs by closing the gap. 

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) made the bridge across to the breakaway group on the climb, though, with Geschke's attempt unsuccessful. Anthony Perez crossed the summit first after an acceleration, and during the descent Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) reached the leaders, creating an eight-rider strong break after Louvel had been caught earlier. 

At the halfway point of the race, the breakaways lead had risen to seven minutes, as they approached the second hors catégorie climb of the day up Col de la Croix de Fer. With 5km still left on the mountain, Pidcock decided to take up the mantle at the head of the break, consequently dropping Schönberger, Goossens, Perez and Oliveira in the process. 

The peloton had reduced the gap to six minutes by this point, with Jumbo-Visma driving the group along at the front. Plenty of riders dropped off the back, while the yellow jersey stayed safe and comfortable with his teammates helping him up the climb. 

Ciccone summited Col de la Croix de Fer first, but by now the break's lead had fallen to below five minutes. The gap steadied around this mark during the descent, which lasted for 30km or so. Descending speeds pushed the 100kmh mark, with technical turns seeing Pidcock lead the riders down the mountain. Onto the flats, the break had regained a minute on the peloton, Jumbo-Visma comfortable with allowing them to head further up the road.

And then, the Alpe d'Huez awaited. A 13.8km long ascent, with an average gradient of 8.1 per cent. Oh, and to make it just a little more difficult, Alpe d'Huez features 21 hairpin bends. 

With the breakaway a kilometre into the climb, their lead stood at 6-10. However, Jumbo-Visma certainly started to up the tempo as they reached the climb, with Ineos Grenadiers, Movistar and Tadej Pogačar, by himself, all following. Powless soon dropped off the front, but after a minute he managed to pull himself back onto the breakaway with some determined effort. The gap gradually started to fall, but not majorly.

Pidcock attacked with 10.5km remaining, attempting to drop the other riders as he rode further up the mountain. Meintjes and Froome matched him somewhat, with Powless and Ciccone losing ground to the Ineos rider. Plenty of the climb still remained though, and both Froome and Meintjes had Pidcock within their sights around the hairpin bends. Pidcock kicked again, opening up a gap further away from his fellow countryman and the South African. 

With 7km left, he had a lead of more than ten seconds at the front, with the bunch still five minutes back down the climb. This continued to grow to the riders directly behind him, Meintjes and Froome dropping back. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) soon took over control of the bunch, helping to bring his GC man closer to Pidcock - at the 5km mark, the Briton's lead was 4-30. 

Meanwhile, Romain Bardet (Team DSM) fell away from Vingegaard's groupm which contained Pogačar, Ineos Grenadiers duo Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates, Enric Mas (Movistar), with Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) taking over from Roglič, who had dropped back. 

Pogačar, intent on reclaiming the yellow jersey, attacked up the mountain. Only Vingegaard managed to follow, keeping the Slovenian well within his sights. Thomas fought back to climb back on though, while Pidcock's lead stood at 3-40 heading into the final 2.5km. Kuss also reconvened. 

However, this didn't last for long. Pogačar launched his second attack, and, inevitably, Vingegaard followed. Thomas also slowly clambered back to the two riders as well, turning the pedals consistently. Mas and Kuss, once again, caught up as well. 

Pidcock crossed the line first to take the first Grand Tour stage win of his career, while Meintjes came home third. In a display of determination, Froome rounded off the podium, while Pogačar and Vingegaard crossed the line together. 

TOUR DE FRANCE 2022 STAGE 12 RESULTS

1. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, in 4-55-24
2. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, at 48s
3. Chris Froome (GBr) Israel-Premier Tech, at 2-06
4. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-EasyPost, at 2-29
5. Tadej Pogačar (Svn) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-23
6. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
7. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
8. Enric Mas (Spa) Movistar, at 3-26
9. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
10. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 3-32

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 12

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, in 46-28-46
2. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-22
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 2-26
4. Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM, at 2-35
5. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 3-44
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic, at 3-58
7. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 4-07
8. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 7-39
9.  Enric Mas (Spa) Movistar, at 9-32
10. Aleksandr Vlasov Bora-Hansgrohe, at 10-06

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.