Van Aert leads another Jumbo-Visma masterclass
March 9 th 2022 - 16:20
Jumbo-Visma imposed their collective strength again during stage 4 of Paris-Nice with another 1-2-3 for the Dutch squad. Already dominant on day 1, the riders in black and yellow smashed the 13.4km individual time-trial from Domérat to Montluçon. This time, Wout van Aert powered to the stage win and took the yellow and white jersey as the race leader. The ITT Olympic champion Primoz Roglic had the second best time, ahead of the two-time World champion Rohan Dennis. Christophe Laporte finished 11th to stay on the overall podium. Such dominance was witnessed in Paris-Nice 1983, when Sean Kelly led the team Sem-France Loire to two 1-2-3s, in stages 4 and 7 (an ITT). The rivals of Jumbo-Visma will now try to make the most of the mountains to turn the race upside down.
Nearly 49 km/h for Rohan Dennis
The preliminaries of the time trial of the 80th edition are marked by the announcement of the withdrawals of Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), the two-time defending champion who was struggling since the start, and Ben O'Connor, weakened by flu symptoms while he was in 11th position overall. Of the 144 riders remaining, it was the bottom of the hierarchy, Dmitriy Gruzdev, who opened the parade, his time being quickly beaten by the young UAE Emirates rider Finn Fisher-Black, then by Thomas De Gendt. But a very big blow was struck by Australian champion Rohann Dennis, who improved the time of the Belgian rider by more than a minute and completed the 13.4 kilometres with an average speed of 48.925 km/h.
Küng stumbles at 4’’
The newcomer to Jumbo-Visma does not tremble at the arrival of the young talent of Ineos Genadiers Ethan Hayter, who loses 8'' with an average speed of 48.5km/h. The gap to the American Brandon McNulty, trailing by 30’’ on the line, also shows the magnitude of the performance of Rohan Dennis, comfortably installed in the hot seat until Stefan Küng sets off. The time of the European champion at km 7 sends a clear signal: with a tiny delay of eight tenths of a second, he looks able to dislodge the one who had deprived him for a fraction of a second of a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Upon his arrival, Küng suffers a new frustration with 4 seconds behind. Dennis can breathe… but not that long.
Simon Yates starts strong
Among the main contenders likely to worry Dennis, Stefan Bisseger quickly loses ground, but the threat is becoming clearer on the side of Simon Yates, who improves the Australian's intermediate time by more than three seconds. However, the winner of the Paris-Nice 2019 time-trial fades at the finish (+5’’).
Van Aert’s show of force
The battle for the top of the general classification then merges with the fight for the stage, Rohan Dennis' three teammates also being the only ones who can defeat him. Among them, Primoz Roglic rides slightly behind on the first part but he eventually powers to the best time, 4’’ ahead of his Australian. teammate. The Olympic time trial champion only savours his position as stage leader for a few seconds, since Wout Van Aert tumbles through Montluçon, with an average speed of 49.224 km/h to take both his first stage on Paris-Nice and the leader's jersey. Christophe Laporte indeed sets the 11th time, but keeps his place on the provisional podium of the Race to the Sun.