Paris-Nice: Laporte wins stage 1 as Jumbo-Visma claim 1-2-3 with Roglic and Van Aert.

Jumbo-Visma lit up Paris-Nice from the very first stage, with Christophe Laporte, Wout van Aert and Primož Roglič attacking on the final climb and team time trialling to the finish, where they celebrated a famous 1-2-3.

New signing Laporte, who blew the bunch to pieces on the short late climb, was ushered through to claim the stage victory as a reward for his efforts, while his more decorated teammates raised their arms just behind.

Despite many predictions of a bunch finishers, the pure sprinters were dropped on the climb and the Jumbo-Visma trio ended up finishing 20 seconds clear of anyone else.

Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) attacked late on to place fourth at 19 seconds, with the first main bunch finishing three seconds later and riders coming home in dribs and drabs after that. Most of Roglič’s rivals were in the main group but defending champion Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) lost closer to 40 seconds.

After the threat of crosswinds fizzled out earlier on the 160km route starting and finishing in Mantes-la-Ville, the stage seemed to be heading for a bunch sprint, especially after a calm first ascent of the Côte de Breuil-Bois-Robert on the finishing circuit. However, on the approach to the second ascent of the 1.2km, 6 per cent climb, Jumbo lit things up through an exposed section of road.

First, Rohan Dennis and Mike Teunissen accelerated in the crosswind section and started to split the bunch, with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) and Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) among those taken out of the picture. Nathan Van Hooydonck then took over and went full-gas onto the climb, where the already-stretched bunch started to explode.

Laporte then took it up and the damage went up another level. With Van Aert and Roglič in his wheel, the only other rider able to follow was Zdenek Stybar for QuickStep-AlphaVinyl whose leader Fabio Jakobsen was being distanced from the second group along with his fellow sprinters. Before long, Stybar himself had to relent, leaving Laporte, Van Aert, and Roglič to head over the top in an extraordinary team trio.

Six kilometres separated them from the finish, with a headwind section on the flat followed by a dip downhill and then the final run through town. The three of them went all-in and turned relentlessly all the way to the line, while the damage was so great that the main bunch behind lacked numbers and any really ability to chase cohesively.

As they entered the home straight with 20 seconds in hand, the only question mark was who they’d pick for the stage win. With bonuses of 10, 6, and 4 seconds on the line for the top three, Roglič could have helped himself to an even greater head start over his GC rivals, but the domestique was granted his time in the spotlight.

“I have to thank the team. They told me in the final kilometre that it was for me, so it’s really a nice gift for me,” Laporte said.

“I’ve won my first Paris-Nice stage and I’m in the yellow jersey. If someone had told me that at the start of the day I wouldn’t have believed it. To go to the finish with three, it’s incredible. The work we’ve done has paid off.”

Laporte takes the first yellow jersey of the 2022 Paris-Nice as the overall leader, with Roglič second overall at four seconds and Van Aert third at six seconds. Roglič, who was in the driving seat at last year’s race until crashes ruined his hopes on the final day, takes a significant head-start before the crucial stages even begin.

After bonus seconds were factored in, he’s 25 seconds ahead of Latour and 28 seconds ahead of most of the other favourites like Adam Yates (Ineos), Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), and Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic).

Schachmann suffered and now trails Roglic by 42 seconds, with Bora-Hansgrohe possibly set to hand leadership over to Aleksandr Vlasov, who finished in the main group.

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