Paris-Nice 2022: Stage 1 preview – Ciclismo Internacional

By @EchelonsHub

The Route

The race opens up with a very open stage, as has been the case in a few of the last years where a sprint is expected however with several bumps in the road that may change the outcome of the finale.  

The stage is mostly flat, although far from pan-flat, but it will be decided on the final circuit around the town of Mantes-la-Ville. The riders will pass through the finish line with 17.5 kilometers to go and then ahead will face a couple of small hilltops which may provide Launchpad for attacks. 

The first one being the intermediate sprint point, having 1Km at 5%, the possibility of bonifications may see the pace ramp up even higher. The decisive pitch though should come with just 5.5Km to go as the riders will see 1.2Km at 6.9% which is not an easy ascent by any means. Any kind of gap may be dangerous, as the descent to the finish will be fast and will leave the riders with 1.5Km to go.

Condiciones meteorológicas

Some northeastern wind. It surely won’t be strong enough to create the traditional echelons, but you never know! There will be exposed roads, but before the final circuit. In it the direction will change many times, most crucially in the final climb it’ll come as a crosswind but it shouldn’t directly affect it much. 

Breakaway chances: 5% 

Tactics today will be surrounding the final 10 kilometers. Breakaway is highly unlikely to succeed. Wout van Aert is not going to be dropped in the final climb, and the likes of Jakobsen (and likely Philipsen) will not survive the final climb as it’ll be attacked, so he’s the man to beat. But will Jumbo sacrifice energy from their team, likely Roglic included, to control things in the final kilometers? Good question. 

Several sprinters should survive but with Van Aert, those teams will look to counter-attack aswell and they’ll make it dangerous in the very fast run-up to the line where any gap can lead to a win. Final kilometers will be very tense, and plenty riders will want to attack. 

The Favourites 

Wout van Aert – One of the strongest sprinters, and by far the best climber between them. He can take the win if Jumbo avoids late attackers get away, things look favourable but at the same time most will be looking at him if the team doesn’t work fluidly. 

Sonny Colbrelli – I reckon he doesn’t have the sprint to battle with the best but Bahrain will want a hard race and are likely to commit more than anyone to a small bunch sprint. Colbrelli does have chances. 

Bryan Coquard – He has gotten some really good wins in February and seems to be In the ideal team where he has leadership and at the same time quality support. An uphill sprint is best for him, but he can benefit from a reduced race aswell. 

Jasper Philipsen – Will he survive? I doubt, however he is used to ride the classics and is no unknown to punchy races, can be a serious threat. 

Sure enough though some more sprinters may survive, and head onto a sprint finale, although I find that unlikely. The likes of Binian Ghirmay and Amaury Capiot are good wildcards but if everything heads in their favour they’ll have the likes of van Aert and Coquard to deal with. Others may survive if the race is easier, the likes of Mads Pedersen and Sam Bennett are good calls in case that were to happen. 

As for possible late attacks, the list of candidates is really big. There are some names though I can mention that have the best kind of skillset for the job, and at the same time are riders which do usually tend to be aggressive. The likes of Bauke Mollema and Neilson Powless who are more of the climber type, there is the puncheur type like Franck Bonnamour and Matteo Jorgenson who may be eyeing more the climb. Perhaps most dangerously is the rouleurs who can get over the climb and, if they find themselves in front, can be extremely hard to bring back like Matteo Trentin, Ivan Cortina, Soren Kragh Andersen and Mads Wurtz. 

Prediction Time 

⭐⭐⭐ Van Aert 

⭐⭐Colbrelli, Coquard, Philipsen, Ghirmay 

⭐Roglic, Mollema, Bonnamour, Trentin, Cortina, SK.Andersen, McNulty, Almeida 

I think attacks will come either ways. It’s an ideal finale for a late attack, but I’m trusting a sprint finale for Wout van Aert to take. He’s got the form, I think if Jumbo, Roglic included, commit to keeping everything together they will have van Aert’s full support later when needed and it’s a win-win. 

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Rúben Silva

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