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Gallery: Tour de la Provence fireworks

Thrilling finish to the early season French stage race.

It may have only been three full stages, but the 2022 Tour de la Provence once again offered power-packed racing on the stunning stage that is French Provence. After Italian world time trial champion Filippo Ganna blasted to victory in the opening prologue, and his Ineos-Grenadiers teammate Elia Viviani returned to his best with a sprint victory on stage the following day, the overall fight heated up in the final two days.

After finishing sixth in the prologue, world champion Julian Alaphilippe picked up valuable bonus seconds each day. Already he was third behind Viviani on stage 1 and second on stage 2, he finished just behind Frenchman Bryan Coquard, which moved him to within seconds of Ganna’s distinctive black leaders jersey.

But while Alaphilippe was the hands-down favorite to take control on the final stage up the Montagne de Lure, Colombian climbing veteran Nairo Quintana turned the tables with a stunning solo victory that not only won him the stage but the overall honors for the second time in three years. The Montagne de Lure may not be a classic climb in the Tour de France, but it has made its mark in races like Paris-Nice. And it did so once again, in Provence. Alaphilippe tried to follow Quintana, but eventually cracked on the repeated accelerations, and could only watch as the Arkea-Samsik rider bolted away.

For Quintana, the win of course was particularly satisfying after a long dry spell. And it quickly calmed the critics grumbling that Quintana’s best days were behind him.