Belgians win six Tour de France stages for first time since 1985

Belgians win six Tour de France stages for first time since 1985
Belgian Jasper Philipsen of Alpecin-Deceuninck celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the final stage of the Tour de France cycling race, from Paris la Defense Arena to Paris Champs-Elysees on 24 July 2022. Credit: David Pintens / Belga

As the 2022 Tour de France came to an end Sunday on Champs-Élysées in Paris, Jasper Philipsen won the 21st and final stage, bringing the number of stage wins by Belgian riders to six.

The total is proof of the strength of a few Belgian riders. The next most-winning nation was Denmark with four stage wins, while Slovenia followed with three. This is the first time since 1985 that Belgian cyclists emerge victorious in six stages.

Yet though the number of stage victories by nationality makes for some interesting statistics, the world's most prestigious bike race is not contested by individual countries but by teams composed of many nationalities. The Danish cyclist Jonas Vingegaard was the overall winner, riding for Dutch Team Jumbo Visma.

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Among the Belgian stage winners was ​​Wout van Aert – arguably the strongest all-round cyclist of the present era – who wore the yellow jersey for four days at the start of the race and won the points classification and most-combative rider award. After moving to the top of the general classification in stage 2, Van Aert won the fourth stage in Calais, the eighth stage in Lausanne and the time trial in Rocamadour (20th stage).

Although Van Aert was widely tipped to take the first stage in Copenhagen (the Tour sometimes starts outside of France), it in fact his compatriot Yves Lampaert who came across the line first. Jasper Philipsen triumphed in the 15th stage in Carcassonne and the final sprint stage in Paris yesterday.

In 1985, Belgian riders Rudy Matthijs won three stages, Eric Vanderaerden two, and  Ludwig Wijnants one.

Yet though six stages is impressive, the Belgian record is far greater — 15 stage wins set in 1927. In 1972 and 1974 though, Belgian cyclists came close with 14 stage wins, with Eddy Merckx alone winning 6 and 8 of them. Merckx, whose professional career spanned from 1965 to 1978, won more races than any rider in history and is considered the greatest cyclist of all time.

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