Only three days after UAE-Emirates earned the first three places at Trofeo Laigueglia, Jumbo-Visma swept Sunday’s opening stage of the 80th edition of Paris-Nice, also known as The Race to the Sun. New signing Christophe Laporte claimed the win and Primož Roglič put at least 30 seconds into all his GC rivals by coming runner-up. Hugo Houle was top Canadian in 20th.
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It wasn’t a straight-ahead sprinter’s stage to open affairs. The race entered a finishing circuit in Mantes-la-Ville and would head up the 1.2-km, 6.9 percent Cat. 3 Côte de Breuil-Bois-Robert twice in the last 25 km, the second time cresting with 5 km to race.
The race to the starts here ☀️
There’s a few categorised climbs along the route today with the last coming inside 5km to go 👀 pic.twitter.com/E6VUWS0BYg
— Team BikeExchange-Jayco (@GreenEDGEteam) March 6, 2022
The first breakaway of 2022 Paris-Nice was only a duo, and Matthew Holmes of Lotto-Soudal made sure to grab all the KOM points he could atop Cat. 3 Côte de Vétheuil and Côte de la route des Crêtes. Alpecin-Fenix, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl and Ineos all contributed to the chase and brought back the fugitives early, with 73 km to go.
The early catch was part of a nervousness in the peloton with the pace very high in anticipation of crosswinds. Ineos and AG2R-Citroën tried to split the field and then the tempo relented with 60 km to race. Groupama-FDJ and Jumbo-Visma joined in on powering the bunch towards the day’s first intermediate sprint and the first climb of Côte de Breuil-Bois-Robert.
🚴🏻♂️💨 Le rythme est très élevé dans le peloton, qui est très étiré.
— Paris-Nice (@ParisNice) March 6, 2022
Another breakaway formed with 44 km remaining. This trio hit the intermediate sprint in Boinvilliers with a 30-second buffer. By Breuil-Bois-Robert I, the gap was 1:10, and neither the escapees nor the peloton rushed up. When they heard the bell with a 18-km circuit left to race, the fugitives were 30 seconds clear.
Jumbo-Visma and UAE-Emirates worked to lasso the breakaway before Breuil-Bois-Robert II. Many riders dribbled out the back. On the climb Jumbo-Visma kept up the pressure. Wout Van Aert, Roglič and Laporte took off with Zdenek Stybar, but only the three Jumbo-Visma riders crested together.
With 3 km to ride, the yellow and black clad trio had 15 seconds. There was a lot of back slapping in the final 100 metres, but it would be Laporte who took the win. Fourth place Pierre Latour finished 19 seconds later.
Monday’s stage is more traditional sprinters’ fare.
2022 Paris-Nice Stage GC
1) Christophe Laporte (France/Jumbo-Visma) 3:48:28
2) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) +0:04
3) Wout Van Aert (Beligum/Jumbo-Visma) +0:06
20) Hugo Houle (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +0:32
71) Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +1:45