The 2022 edition of Paris-Nice did not disappoint. In fact, this race never does, as wind, rain, chaos, and climbs have turned the race on its head on more than one occasion. After stage 1 this year, it looked like Jumbo-Visma might wipe the floor with the competition. But a string of questionable tactical decisions meant the race was closer than expected in the final 20km of stage 8.
Along the way, Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates) earned his first-ever WorldTour stage win, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) dominated (again), and Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) showed that he is more than just a Julian Alaphilippe look-a-like and he has the legs to back it up. This is the 2022 Paris-Nice, by the numbers.
On stage 1 of Paris-Nice 2022, we witnessed one of the most impressive team attacks of the last decade in cycling. Jumbo-Visma went to the front on the final climb of the day – a hilly stage, not even a mountain stage – and absolutely smashed it. Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma) was the first rider leading it out, and then Jumbo-Visma’s new signing, Christophe Laporte, took over. A minute later, only Zdeněk Štybar (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) was left hanging onto the Jumbo-Visma train; and 30 seconds later, even he was gone, too.
Laporte, Wout van Aert, and Primoz Roglič (all Jumbo-Visma) dropped the peloton off their wheels on the Côte de Breuil-Bois-Robert, in a display of puncheur performance that netted Roglič a 22-second gap on his GC rivals plus a 6-second time bonus. Oh how important this gap would prove to be by the end of Paris-Nice.
Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) was one of the riders fighting to stay with Jumbo-Visma, but we can see the exact moment where the American cracked, along with everyone else in the peloton. Based on the American’s power data, we can infer that the Jumbo-Visma trio sprinted up the climb at 8.5-9w/kg for over two minutes, since Powless was in their draft at 30kph.
Powless – Côte de Breuil-Bois-Robert:
Average Power: 506w (7.7w/kg)
Before getting dropped: 540w (8.2w/kg) for 1:50
After Jumbo-Visma’s domination on stage 1, there were two days for the sprinters into Orléans and Dun-le-Palestel. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) showed that he is back with a win on stage 2, while Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) did the same by upsetting van Aert in the uphill sprint on stage 3.
But not only did the Belgian enact his revenge on stage 4, but Jumbo-Visma again went 1-2-3 in the hilly 13.4 time trial to Montluçon. The biggest surprises of the day were Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) finishing 5th on the day, and McNulty all the way down in 14th. Did the American hit his peak too early in February? We didn’t have to wait long to find out.
Stage 5 of Paris-Nice was a 189km mountain stage to Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut that included the fearsome Col de la Mure with 34km to go. The Mure averaged 8.1 percent for 7.7km, and was even steeper in its first few kilometers. When McNulty infiltrated the day’s breakaway, it was only a matter of time before he would attack. But it wasn’t an easy run-in, and McNulty’s power data shows us just how hard it is to ride in a WorldTour breakaway – let alone save enough energy to attack.
McNulty – stage 1: kilometer zero to the foot of Col de la Mure:
Time: 4 hours
Average Power: 301w (4.4w/kg)
Normalized Power: 332w (4.8w/kg)
Establishing the breakaway: 379w (5.5w/kg) for 51 minutes
The American telegraphed his attack on the early slopes of the Col de la Mure when he went back to the team car to off-load his arm warmers and extra bottles. Moments later, McNulty attacked up the right-hand side of the road, and he was gone. This is the exact moment that he attacked.
McNulty – Col de la Mure attack:
Average Power: 444w (6.4w/kg)
Max Power: 1128w (16.3w/kg)
First 4 minutes of attack: 513w (7.4w/kg)
With nearly a minute lead on the rest of the breakaway, McNulty continued to drive on with 25km to go. He casually went up the next climb (14 minutes long) at 6.3w/kg, and that was a wrap. Second place came across the line nearly two minutes behind McNulty, who is showing the form of a future Grand Tour winner.
With three stages to go, the majority of the peloton expected a sprint at the end of stage 6, but Mathieu Burgaudeau had other ideas. Many liken the 23 year-old Frenchmen to a Julian Alaphilippe look-alike, but after his performance at Paris-Nice – and the world champion’s lack of performance at Tirreno-Adriatico – one could argue that the TotalEnergies man had the upper hand.
With 9km to go in stage 6, Burgaudeau attacked over the final climb of the day, which was a sprint for bonus-seconds rather than a KOM. At 1.2km and an average of 6.5 percent, it was unlikely that any significant gaps could be made. Nevertheless, Burgaudeau pushed on over the crest, and with 5km to go, he had nearly 15 seconds. The Frenchmen looked like he was fading in the final few hundred meters, but ultimately he crossed the line just a bike-length ahead of the charging peloton.
When looking at the Frenchman’s power data, we can see that it wasn’t the peloton’s choice to avoid catching him – the “new” Alaphilippe was just too strong.
Burgaudeau – solo Attack on stage 6:
Average Power: 388w (6.6w/kg)
Normalized Power: 405w (6.9w/kg)
Attack on climb: 511w (8.7w/kg) for 2:30
Onto the final two stages, we have two performances to look at, with one being much more impressive than the other: Primoz Roglič and Simon Yates. Stage 7 was a straight-up mountaintop finish on the Col de Turini; there was nothing special about it. There were attacks from Daniel Felipe Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers), Yates, and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa Samsic), but nothing that troubled Roglič. In the end, the Slovenian waited until the final 200 meters to launch his powerful sprint, taking the stage win ahead of Martínez and Yates.
McNulty rode a steady climb and finished 6th on the stage, only 25 seconds behind Roglič, and averaging 5.9w/kg for just over 40 minutes. While we don’t have the Slovenian’s power data, we can certainly infer that Roglič bested 6w/kg on the Col de Turini, with a normalized power even higher than the American’s because of all the surges and attacks in the front group.
McNulty – Col de Turini:
Average Power: 404w (5.9w/kg)
Roglič – Col de Turini:
Estimated Average Power: ~393w (~6.1w/kg)
The final stage of Paris-Nice is always set up for chaos — there have been more than a handful of times when the GC changed hands. Roglič experienced this in 2021, and for a while, it looked like history might repeat itself. Jumbo-Visma paced so hard at the beginning of the stage that a breakaway never got away, and that left just Roglič and Van Aert in the final selection coming into the Col d’Eze.
Situated at the base of Nice, the Col d’Eze is a deceiving climb that is steepest at the beginning, and narrow the whole way up. When Simon Yates attacked with 20km to go in the final stage of Paris-Nice, everyone watching expected Roglič to close the gap. Instead, the Slovenian stayed glued to the wheel of Quintana, who didn’t ride for long before dropping off Yates’ pace.
Eventually, van Aert came back and saved the race for Roglič. Without the Belgian powerhouse, Roglič easily could have lost GC as Simon Yates dominated the climb and stayed clear all the way to the finish. But when we look at the power data, it is harsh to say that Roglič had a bad day. In fact, in the wet and cold conditions, two and a half hours into a super hard medium mountain stage, Roglič still churned out well over 6w/kg for 17 minutes on the Col d’Eze. Yates was just on an incredible level that no one could match.
Yates – Col d’Eze:
Estimated Average Power: ~377w (6.5w/kg)
Roglič and Van Aert – Col d’Eze:
Estimated Average Power: ~6.2w/kg
Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) – Col d’Eze:
Average Power: 409w (5.8w/kg)
In the end, Wout van Aert saved the day for Roglič, who won Paris-Nice for the first time in his career. Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed Stefan Küng (Groupama–FDJ) crossing the line in 6th place, in a group full of climbers like McNulty and Haig, rather than classics men. The Swiss is surely one to watch as we head into the spring classics.