Jumbo-Visma’s masterclass, Laporte’s delight
March 6 th 2022 - 17:10
Stage 1 of Paris-Nice already offered opportunities, and Jumbo-Visma wasted no time to bring battle and deal a blow to their opponents in the 80th edition of Paris-Nice. After some tussles through the wind, the Dutch squad made the most of the tricky hilly final circuit. Not only did they shred the bunch, Primoz Roglic, Wout Van Aert and Christophe Laporte dropped all their rivals with 6km to go. The trio worked well to gain an advantage of 20’’ before the Slovenian and Belgian stars gifted the Frenchman his first victory in a World Tour race, at 29 years old, and his first success with Jumbo-Visma early in the season.
The Sun and fresh temperatures accompany the 154-man peloton starting from Mantes-la-Ville in the early afternoon. The course is rolling form the beginning, setting the tone for a demanding stage. Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal) is the first attacker to get away, at km 3, and he’s joined by Aimé De Gendt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) at km 4.
A short-lived first breakaway
The gap reaches its maximum, 3’10’’, on the way to the first ascent of the day, Côte de Vétheuil (km 32.9km). Holmes takes the 3 KOM points atop the cat-3 ascent while Fabio Jakobsen’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team and Jasper Philipsen’s Alpecin-Fenix take the reins of the bunch.
Ineos Grenadiers join them around km 50. The gap decreases to 1’55’’ before it rises again to 2’55’’ on the slopes of the second ascent of the day, Côte de la route des Crêtes (km 59.5), also dominated by Holmes.
Tension keeps rising in the bunch with open roads exposed to cross and headwinds. Teams are so wary of potential echelons the early attackers are caught with 73km to go due to the high pace in the bunch.
Battles in the wind
After a brief tussle in the wind, the few dropped riders return to the bunch and a new situation arises with 47km to go as Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal) launches a new attack. At the same time, riders from the bunch hit the deck and Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) is forced to abandon.
Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana-Qazaqstan) and Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM) join Frison at the front 44km away from the finish. The gap is up to 1’05’’ as Fedorov dominates the first intermediate sprint of the day, with 30.1km to go.
Their lead goes as high as 1’20’’ but the peloton accelerate again ahead of the final circuit. The gap is down to 30’’ when Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) leads the bunch across the line for the first time. They have 17.7km to go.
The attackers are eventually reeled in with 11km to go. The pace remains high on the way to the final ascent of the day and Jumbo-Visma put the hammer down as soon as they hit the first slopes. Nathan Van Hooydonck takes a hard turn at the front, then it’s Christophe Laporte… And only Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) can follow alongside Primoz Roglic and Wout Van Aert!
Stybar is dropped with 6km to go, and only the black and white trio remain at the front. They work well together to open a gap of 20’’, then Van Aert and Roglic tell Laporte this victory is his. Pierre Latour attacks from the bunch and crosses the line 19’’ behind the winners and 3’’ ahead of the bunch.