INTERMARCHÉ
CIRCUS WANTY

Recap (3/3) – “In 2022 we built the foundations for our stable future in the World Tour”


JULY – AUGUST

With the victory counter of 2022 provisionally on sixteen, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert started its fifth Tour de France aiming for a first stage win. Thanks to Taco van der Hoorn in the cobble stage towards Arenberg (2nd), Louis Meintjes in the queen stage towards Alpe d’Huez (2nd) and Alexander Kristoff on the Champs-Elysées (3rd), the team was very close to success with these podiums in prestigious stages.

The solidarity and the aggressive spirit of the Walloon team led the eight riders to Paris and enabled Louis Meintjes to finish seventh in the general classification, his best performance in a Grand Tour and also the first top ten of the team in the Tour de France.

« After our fantastic first part of the season, the expectations from outside were rising for the Tour de France. We rose to the challenge and that's once more a compliment for the work of our Performance Team. The selected riders prepared mentally and physically for a long time, for example with an altitude training camp under the direction of our trainers. It was a close call, thanks to Taco we were only a couple of centimeters away from our first success. But I'm convinced that more opportunities are waiting for us when we return and that one day we'll manage to reach this important goal »

At the end of July, Jan Bakelants concluded the Tour de Wallonie with a stage victory full of emotions, his first success since 2016. Gerben Thijssen reached another milestone in the Tour de Pologne by outsprinting several of the best sprinters in the world to achieve his first World Tour success.

The impressive regularity of Lorenzo Rota was finally rewarded by a first professional victory in the queen stage of the Sazka Tour in the beginning of August. He became the eleventh different rider of the team lifting arms in 2022. Surrounded by a strong team, he managed to defend the yellow jersey and to win the final classification.

« The victory of Gerben Thijssen in Poland pleased me a lot. We believed in his capabilities, that's why we invested in a sprint train around him. Seeing our young team in Poland with our road captain Boy van Poppel leading Gerben towards the victory was a new indication that we could look to the future with confidence. It was also nice to see Lorenzo Rota winning for the first time. We have a high appraisal of his capabilities because we're convinced that he can become a regular winner. To help him making the right choices, we chose to surround him with experimented riders in 2023. We hope that Rui Costa can play a similar role as Kristoff alongside Girmay in 2022. »

Quinten Hermans played again an important role in the World Tour races with podiums in the Tour de Pologne and the Bemer Classic. Alexander Kristoff’s form went crescendo after the Tour de France, adding the Circuit Franco-Belge to his palmares with a lot of panache, before an eighth place at the European Championships and another victory at the Deutschland Tour, in which Georg Zimmermann conquered the white young rider’s jersey for a second year in a row.

« We will always attach a lot of importance to the races in our region, because even though the road we have travelled was really long, we will always remember where we come from. Fifteen years ago we were only an amateur club. We aim to maintain a balance between our World Tour commitments and the regional competitions. This is a challenge we successfully met in 2022 with a calendar of 290 race days, with fantastic success in Mont-sur-Marchienne, Durbuy, Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont and La Louvière in addition to our podium in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The combativity of Kristoff until his very last pedal stroke in our colors enchanted me a lot. His victory at the Circuit Franco-Belge confirmed that we didn't get it wrong. He was a determining factor in maintaining our position in the World Tour. »

The second Tour of Spain of the World Team started off in a difficult way with crashes and illness, until the third place of Rein Taaramäe on the slopes of Colláu Fancuaya (3rd) from the breakaway. He was imitated the next day by Louis Meintjes, who ended up triumphing on top of Les Praeres, achieving his very first World Tour success. The South-African rider with a fighting spirit fought body and soul to obtain a top ten in the final classification, finishing eleventh in Madrid. 

« The rider in Louis Meintjes revived, because he feels good in our team and because his role is clear. He discovered his aggressive racing spirit. I'm convinced that he can offer Intermarché-Circus-Wanty a stage victory in the Tour de France, just like he brilliantly did in the Vuelta. »

SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 

Alexander Kristoff led Gerben Thijssen to the victory in the Gooikse Pijl, the 24th and last victory of team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert in 2022. Biniam Girmay offered two new podiums thanks to impressive sprints in the GP de Québec (3rd) and the GP de Wallonie (2nd).

Not less than eleven riders of the team represented their country at the World Championships in Australia. Estonian rider Madis Mihkels was very close to the bronze medal in the U23 road race (4th). In the Elite category it was Lorenzo Rota who raced for the medals until the final kilometer, but eventually it was Alexander Kristoff who obtained the best ever result for a rider of the team with his sixth place.

« The World Championships were the apotheosis of a memorable season for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. The fast that eleven riders of our team were selected by their nations showed once more our regularity and the strong potential in our team. Both in the U23 and the Elite category we had the capabilities of winning a medal. »

Hugo Page concluded the season with a third place in Binche-Chimay-Binche, becoming the seventeenth rider of the team to finish on the podium in 2022. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert ended its second year in the World Tour on fifth place in the UCI World Ranking and is represented in the top ten of the individual ranking for the first time by Alexander Kristoff.

As a symbol of the new generation which is standing up, Madis Mihkels was the youngest rider to win a professional race in 2022 at the age of 18 years and 361 days. After 14 seasons in the colors of the Walloon World Team, Kévin Van Melsen will start a new chapter in 2023 and direct the new Continental Development Team.

« 2022 was an exceptional season. In terms of results we did better than the previous years and we even surpassed our goals. We showed great regularity all season long, with particularly good periods in the spring and autumn. In the battle for the World Tour positions we reached the safe zone earlier as predicted, enabling us to continue building our project and to look ahead to the three next years in the World Tour in a serene way. »

RESULTS

General Classification

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