The Tour de France has long been the domain of the European riders and the peloton of 176 is still largely made up of riders from across the continent. This year, there are ten riders from North America in cycling’s biggest event of the year, with seven from the United States and three Canadians heading to the big show.
That’s an increase from last year’s seven and from among them Sepp Kuss took the first stage victory by a rider from the United States in a decade.
Cycling News profiles the 10 North Americans who will be on the start line, and looking for more, when the race kicks off in Copenhagen on Friday.
Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan)
It’s hard to believe it but the 2022 Tour de France will be Joe Dombrowski’s debut Tour. The winner of a stage in the Giro d’Italia in 2021 and 12th place overall in 2019, the 31-year-old has competed in the Giro seven times – including this past May – and the Vuelta a España four times.
Dombrowski made his name as a winner of the Baby Giro (2012) and Tour of Utah (2015). He started his career with Team Sky, spent five seasons with Slipstream’s various iterations before moving to UAE Team Emirates. He made the switch to Astana Qazaqstan after two seasons, and supported Vincenzo Nibali in his fourth-place finish at the Giro.
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How the American will fare in the Tour de France after finishing the Giro and Route d’Occitanie remains to be seen, but it won’t be his first Grand Tour double: he raced the Giro and Vuelta in 2016, 2017 and 2021 but this will be his first back-to-back Grand Tour.
With a line-up missing a major overall contender, Dombrowski should be free to go in breakaways in search of stage victories or the mountains jersey. Astana’s lineup, which includes Gianni Moscon and Alexey Lutsenko, seems more geared toward an attacking strategy as the team fights to keep its position in the WorldTour in 2023.
Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost)
It will be Tour de France number three for Powless, the first tribally recognised Native North American to take on the French Grand Tour, and it has the potential to be his best yet after an impressive fourth place overall at the Tour de Suisse.
Finishing a Tour de France can change a rider. Finishing two even more so, and after the 2021 Tour, Powless turned around and smashed out his first major victory, winning the San Sebastian Classic from a breakaway.
Powless was on the attack again at the Tour de Suisse, missing out on a stage win at the hands of Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe). While the 25-year-old will ride mostly in support of the team’s GC leaders, he will likely target a high placing overall as the team also needs to earn points to avoid losing its place in the WorldTour in 2023.
Antoine Duchesne (Groupama-FDJ)
The 30-year-old Canadian has been with Groupama-FDJ since 2018 but last raced the Tour de France when he was part of Direct Energie in 2016.
A former Canadian national champion, Duchesne has fashioned himself into a reliable domestique. He’ll be supporting Thibaut Pinot and David Gaudu, the Groupama-FDJ general classification contenders. The French outfit left top sprinter Arnaud Démare behind to go all-in for a Tour de France podium this year, so look for Duchesne to be at the pointy end of the peloton when the breakaway needs to be brought back.
Hugo Houle and Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech)
The Israeli team with a Canadian sponsor brings two Canadians to the Tour de France in two very different roles. Michael Woods, the team’s co-leader for the overall classification – along with Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang – and Hugo Houle, one of the team’s main motors.
Houle came to Israel-Premier Tech along with the title sponsor after four seasons with Astana and will be competing in his fourth straight Tour de France. As a former Canadian time trial champion, Houle is frequently seen dragging the peloton along or jumping into breakaways.
Last year, he won the combativity prize in the Tour de France on stage 10 after being in the breakaway.
Woods, on the other hand, is the rider to watch when the road tilts upward. The 35-year-old came to the sport late from a running background, but has shown himself to be a major contender, finishing seventh in the Vuelta a España in 2017 and winning stages in the Tour of Spain in 2018 and 2020.
Woods won the Route d’Occitanie and a stage, showing he is on good form heading into the Tour de France.
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma)
Of all the North Americans in the Tour de France, the rider who will likely get the most television time is Sepp Kuss. The Jumbo-Visma rider won stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France in Andorra, giving the US its first stage win at the race in a decade, and is one of the best climbers in the business. His talents are most often put to use in the closing kilometres of key climbs where he works to tee up teammates Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard, the team’s GC leaders.
Kuss has also won a stage of the Vuelta and Critérium du Dauphiné. It will be the 27-year-old’s third Tour de France and his eighth Grand Tour after four Vueltas and two starts in the Giro d’Italia. Maybe the third time will be a charm?
Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar Team)
Jorgenson, 22, will make his Tour de France debut with the Spanish Movistar team and will mainly ride in support of Enric Mas. It will be the second Grand Tour, after finishing the 2021 Giro d’Italia, for the versatile and talented rider who won the points classification at the Tour de l’Avenir before turning pro.
Since then, he’s shown himself as a strong climber and sprinter, a rider who can roll in the breakaway and is consistent enough to finish high up in the general classification – an eighth place finish in the Paris-Nice last year is an example. The Californian has yet to truly come into his own and could turn out some surprises this July.
Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM)
Vermaerke is the second youngest of the North Americans starting the Tour de France this year and making his Grand Tour debut with Team DSM after he put in a solid ride at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
As a former winner of the under-23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it wasn’t a surprise to see Vermaerke throwing down in the winning move on stage 2 at the Dauphiné, where he ended up fourth behind another Ardennes specialist Alexis Vuillermoz.
Vermaerke will be supporting Romain Bardet and has shown prowess in the mountains, in particular this year at the Tour of Oman. Team DSM like to race aggressively and the 20-year-old Vermaerke will undoubtedly be in a few breakaways.
Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo)
Simmons, 21, is seven months Vermaerke’s junior and is the youngest rider of the 2022 Tour de France. The rider from Durango turned professional after winning the Junior World Championships in 2019 and made waves in his first season with insensitive social media posts that resulted in him being benched by his team during the busiest part of the condensed 2020 late-season calendar.
Simmons has let his legs do the talking since then and won a stage and the overall Tour de Wallonie in 2021, finished his first Grand Tour in Spain last fall, narrowly missing out on a stage win from a breakaway on stage 19.
That result showed Simmons’ body had matured enough to endure three weeks of Grand Tour racing and mountains classification victories in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Suisse this year were the results of relentless attacking. Expect Simmons to be equally combative on the bike in July as Trek-Segafredo aim mainly for stage wins at the Tour.
Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates)
McNulty, 24, will reprise his role as a trusted climbing domestique for defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar this July. The Arizona native is racing in his third Grand Tour, having made his debut in the 2020 Giro d’Italia as UAE’s GC leader, finishing 15th overall and coming second on stage 10 behind Peter Sagan.
Wherever Pogačar goes, McNulty will be there as his trusted helper along with fellow climbers Marc Soler and George Bennett. It’s not the most glamorous role, getting bidons from the team car, but helping a teammate win the Tour de France is an experience any rider would relish.
And yet, McNulty can do much, much more as he demonstrated in Paris-Nice when he escaped solo to win stage 5, much as he did to win the Faun Ardèche Classic in February and the Trofeo Calvia in January. Whether circumstances will allow him to go for Tour de France glory remains to be seen.