Every day counts when you're competing at the Tour de France, as 24 hours of poor food, sleep or motivation could see the race leave you behind.
However, the route is always designed to generate drama and the Parcours for the 109th edition is no different, with how La Grande Boucle unfolds on television a critical factor in race director Christopher Prudhomme's planning.
While it is always tough to pinpoint where the highlights will occur, here is our rundown of the five key stages to look out for.
|What||Tour de France|
|Where||France, with part of the route also in Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland|
Friday 1st July 2022-Sunday 24th July
|How to watch|
Live on ITV4 & Eurosport, Discovery+ & GCN+
|Odds||Tadej Pogacar 8/11, Jonas Vingegaard 4/1, Primoz Roglic 4/1, Geraint Thomas 16/1, Daniel Martinez 14/1|
Date: 6th July
Start and Finish: Lille - Arenberg
After a tricky, more than likely wind-affected start in Denmark, and a run across France's north coast for Stage Four, the race could explode on Stage Five as the peloton tackles the pavé between Lille and Arenburg.
The famous cobbles return for the first time in four years, with 11 bone-shaking sections totalling 19.4km.
All the big names will be trying to jostle for position at the front, but the nature of the racing may make that impossible for those of a more slender frame and staying upright might be the best certain riders can hope for.
It was no surprise to see one of the real tough men of the road, John Degenkolb, win on that similar stage to Roubaix in 2018 and brute strength will likely decide who comes home first.
Date: 8th July
Start and Finish: Tomblaine - La Super Planche des Belles Filles
Since its debut in 2012, the summit finish to La Super Planche des Belles Filles has become a favourite for the organisers, with this its third outing in four years.
It was last used in 2020 for the penultimate day's time-trial in which Tadej Pogacar famously usurped fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic to snatch the yellow jersey just over 24 hours before the finish in Paris.
The climb serves a different purpose this year and it could be a day where some of the overall contenders have to reassess their goals, while a strong ride here will make others believe they can push for a podium or even beyond.
While not necessarily a pure mountain stage, with the Vosges lacking the same elevation as the Alpes and Pyrenees, the penal nature of the final climb makes this stage one not to be missed.
Date: 14th July
Start and Finish: Briancon - Alpe d'Huez
While Stage 11 will be more spectacular, with the peloton set to tackle the Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier and Col du Granon, fireworks seem guaranteed the next day, 14th July.
It coincides with one of the biggest celebrations in the French calendar, Bastille Day, and the home riders have the extra motivation of Alpe d'Huez setting the scene for the finale.
The 21 hairpins of arguably the Tour's most famous climb only add to the pain. With that in mind, some riders may look to keep something extra in the tank, but that will be almost impossible with both the Col du Galibier and Col de la Croix de Fer situated earlier on the route.
Those two could, in fact, inspire attacking racing from the off, but the real fireworks are likely to occur on the Alpe, as the plucky Gallic pretenders aim to fight off the genuine overall contenders.
Date: 21st July
Start and Finish: Lourdes - Hautacam
The final day in the Pyrenees and for many of the peloton, the last they need to survive, with two sprints and a time-trial they can cruise through making up Stages 19-21.
Starting in the Pilgrimage town of Lourdes, the riders will meander steadily upwards through the valleys before encountering the Col d'Aubisque which summits after 76.2km.
The Col de Spandelles is the next real challenge before a potential showdown on the Hautacam. As the final climb of the race and, with a relatively sedate day before the penultimate day's time-trial, the overall contenders will be ready to give everything to force their way up the general classification.
The true climbers are especially likely to push in anticipation of losing time against the clock.
Date: 23rd July
Start and Finish: Lacapelle-Marival - Rocamadour
Type: Individual time-trial
A time-trial on the penultimate day of the Tour has become a feature of the race and while the one in 2020 saw Pogacar overtake Roglic, the opposite could occur here.
The flat route suits the three-time Vuelta a Espana winner and he'll be determined to avenge his defeat of two years ago.
Similar to Stage 18, and Stage Five, this route could shake things up, with the less powerful riders likely to lose time and the bigger boys sure to bulldoze their way around.
In short, after three weeks of racing, the 'race of truth' could answer any remaining queries.
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