Balance and variety
January 5 th 2022 - 11:55
It is only natural for a race that will stage its 80th edition in March to have finally found the right balance and Paris-Nice makes everything it can to keep it while improving it slightly every year. While the Race to the Sun used to be reluctant to test riders too harshly in the early season, it does no longer hesitate to provide a varied and, yes, balanced program. There will be something for every taste, even the most demanding ones, on the menu on offer from March 6 to March 13 between Mantes-la-Ville and the Promenade des Anglais.
While the Yvelines department will host the first big stage race of the season for the 13th time in succession, the area still holds enough twists and turns to surprise the riders once more. The aim is again not to make it too easy for the sprinters and the windswept sectors around Houdan should be ideal for skirmishes while the Breuil Bois Robert bump, 6 km from the finish line, could be a perfect launch-pad for a last-ditch attack.
The question for the next two stages is the same as usual when the peloton rides across the plains of the Parisian Basin, the Beauce and this year Indre and Creuse, a region not visited since 1996 –– bunch sprint or echelons? The weather will decide, bearing in mind that the wide finish of stage 2 in Orleans might suit sprinters more than the finale in Dun-le-Palestel, where stage 3 will end after 44 km of a hilly circuit.
Allier will host the traditional mid-week individual time trial, a short and bumpy 13.4-km course between Domerat and Montlucon and a steep last stretch with percentages reaching 14 pc.
The compact TT will sketch the outlines of the final GC and they should become clearer the next day in what could be the main course of the edition, a gruelling 188.8-km stage between St Just-St Rambert, 19 km outside of St Etienne, and St-Sauveur-de Montagut in Ardeche. With a 3,350-metre elevation and three 1st category climbs – the familiar Croix de Chaubouret (9.8 km at 6.6 pc), Cote de Saint-Romain-de-Lerps (6,5 km at 7.3 pc) and col de la Mure (7.6 km at 8.3 pc) –, the day could lead to the most unexpected and exciting scenarios.
The race will head for the Mediterranean on the Friday for the longest stage this year between Courthezon and Aubagne, just outside Marseille. With another 2,900 meters in elevation and the ascent of the tricky Espigoulier pass shortly before the final descent, the stage will be a perfect warm-up for a traditionally demanding last weekend.
In the past few years, Paris-Nice has gone to altitude on the Saturday and the race is returning to the Turini Pass (14.9 km at 7.3 pc) three years after a stage that crowned two Colombians, Dani Martinez for the day’s honours and Egan Bernal for the GC. The last climb will be the highlight of the day since only one minor ascent, the Coursegoules climb, features on the course that day.
Sunday will hopefully see a return to the Promenade des Anglais with a familiar-looking course, spiced with a major modification. Col d’Eze, the stage of many memorable Paris-Nice finishes, will be tackled for the first time by a different road, shorter but also steeper, bringing the percentage of the climb from 6.1 pc to 7.6 pc. As we said before, more of the same but…
Paris-Nice 2022 stages
Sunday, March 6th, stage 1: Mantes-la-Ville > Mantes-la-Ville, 159,8 km
Monday, March 7th, stage 2: Auffargis > Orléans, 159,2 km
Tuesday, March 8th, stage 3: Vierzon > Dun-le-Palestel, 190,8 km
Wednesday, March 9th, stage 4: Domérat > Montluçon, 13,4 km (time trial)
Thursday, March 10th, stage 5: Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert > Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut, 188,8 km
Friday, March 11st, stage 6: Courthézon > Aubagne, 213,6 km
Saturday, March 12nd, stage 7: Nice > Col de Turini La Bollène-Vésubie, 155,4 km
Sunday, March 13rd, stage 8: Nice > Nice, 115,6 km
22 teams selected
In accordance with Union Cycliste Internationale rules, the following eighteen UCI WorldTeams are automatically invited to the race:
AG2R Citroën Team (Fra)
Astana Qazaqstan Team (Kaz)
Bahrain Victorious (Brn)
Bora – Hansgrohe (Ger)
EF Education – NIPPO (Usa)
Groupama – FDJ (Fra)
Ineos Grenadiers (Gbr)
Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux (Bel)
Israel Start-Up Nation (Isr)
Lotto Soudal (Bel)
Movistar Team (Esp)
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (Bel)
Team BikeExchange - Jayco (Aus)
Team DSM (Ned)
Trek – Segafredo (Usa)
UAE Team Emirates (Uae)
Furthermore, the first two teams in the 2021 classification of UCI ProTeams will take part by right in Paris-Nice 2022.
Team Arkéa – Samsic (Fra)
The organisers have invited the following teams:
B&B Hotels - KTM (Fra)