McNulty, the Ardèche lover
March 10 th 2022 - 16:38
Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) had another blast on the roads of the Ardèche, powering to the win in Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut on Thursday. The American talent struggled in the first stages of Paris-Nice, but he bounced back in style to take victory on day 5, after a 39km solo move to distance his breakaway companions. This is McNulty’s third victory of the season, and the second on these roads, a couple of weeks after he claimed the Faun-Ardèche Classic. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) took the yellow and white jersey as his teammate Wout van Aert was dropped on the final ascent of the day. The peloton face more uphill challenges on the way to Aubagne, on Friday, ahead of a mountainous week-end around Nice.
As the peloton leave Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert, 18 riders are out of the Race to the Sun due to varied health issues: Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Amaury Capiot (Arkea-Samsic), Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious), Matteo Trentin (UAE Emirates), Clément Champoussin (AG2R-Citroën), Yves Lampaert, Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco), Kevin Vermaercke (DSM), Stefan Bissegger, Jens Keukeleire, Neilson Powless (EF Education-Easypost), Carl Fredrik Hagen, James Piccoli, Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel-Premier Tech), Jonas Rickaert, Kristian Sbaragli, Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix).
Early battles for the break and the KOM points
The 126 riders left in the peloton are still eager to bring battle with many uphill challenges ahead of them: 5 categorised ascents and a total elevation of 3,350m. It takes 14km of attacks and counter-attacks for a group of 10 riders to break away with Ruben Fernandez (Cofidis), Laurent Pichon (Arkea-Samsic), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), Michael Morkov (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal), Owain Doull (EF Education-EasyPost), Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) and Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels-KTM).
Fernandez (+4’37’’) is the best classified rider on GC, and he leads the virtual standings as the gap increases to 6’05’’ on the first ascent of the day, Croix-de-Chaubouret (km 36.1). Madouas leads the break over the top and takes 10 KOM points to already threaten the polka-dot jersey held by Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal) with 12 points.
McNulty attacks, Van Aert gives up on the jersey
Jumbo-Visma drive the bunch along the climbs and valleys of the day. The gap reaches its maximum at km 110: 7’25’’. The early attackers keep working well together on the climbs of Saint-Jeure-d’Ay (cat. 3), Saint-Romain-de-Lerps (cat. 1) and Côte de Toulaud (cat. 2). Madouas sweeps the KOM points ahead of Vanhoucke.
The breakaway tackle the final ascent of the day, the cat-1 col de la Mure (7.6km, 8.3%), with a lead of 6’. McNulty attacks 6km away from the summit, with 39km to go the finish in Saint-Sauveur-De-Montagut. The race leader Wout van Aert is dropped a few minutes later, when the peloton reach the same slopes.
Martinez attacks Roglic
The American talent flies on the ascent. At the summit, he has opened a gap of 1’ to Vanhoucke, Jorgenson and Bonnamour. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) trails by 5’20’’ after he attacked on the ascent. The GC group, led by Rohan Dennis for Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) are 15’’ further behind.
McNulty pushes his advantage on the downhill. Behind him, Dani Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers) tries to shake Roglic, but the Slovenian bring the Colombian rider and Guillaume Martin back with 10km to go. Meanwhile, McNulty solos to victory, 1’30’’ ahead of Bonnamour and Jorgenson. Roglic reaches the line in a 16-man group with a gap of 5'43'' to take the leader's jersey.