The 2022 Paris-Nice starts this Sunday. This race has long been must-see for stage race enthusiasts in the first quarter of the season. And this edition is no different. Primoz Roglic will certainly be looking to avenge last year’s terrible disappointment and add the French one-week race to his palmarés.
Right off the bat, we have to point out that this year’s route is much more demanding than those of the last two years. In 2020 and 2021 there were really only two stages where the general classification (GC) could be impacted, outside of the time-trial. In the 2022 Paris-Nice though, I would say there are four such stages. Route on the race’s website.
Outside of massive mountain stages it is always difficult to assess what might be a deciding stage on a week-long race. This definition changes wildly from three-week Grand Tours (GTs). Recovery and accumulated fatigue play a much smaller role in these races than in GTs. Which is why a tough mountain finish in the Paris-Nice looks very different than a tough mountain finish in the Tour de France. Max Schachmann perfectly illustrates this: the reigning back-to-back winner of this race has a 31st place in the 2018 Giro d’Italia as his best GT result.
I wanted to briefly touch on this before moving on to the race favorites to illustrate the much higher unpredictability of a race like the 2022 Paris-Nice compared to a Grand Tour. Without further to do, I will start precisely with the reigning champ.
Honorable mentions: Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen), Daniel Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).
- Max Schachmann (Bora Hansgrohe)
I can’t figure out the German rider. I will certainly include them on the list out of respect for a back-to-back reigning champion, but I really don’t stand behind this choice with any personal belief. Has any winner of the Paris Nice ever been as anonymous in nearly all other races of the calendar as Schachmann? Let alone any rider that as won it twice?? I can think of maybe Jorg Jaksche, but he didn’t win it twice.
Anyway, I don’t know what to make of this rider, he’s proven to be at the right place at the right time and to be consistent when it matters in this race. I don’t think he has any chance to make it three in a row but if you asked me last year, I would have said the same thing and would have been proven wrong
- Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora Hansgrohe)
I normally hesitate to mention teammates and instead try to discern which rider the team might go with, but these are special circumstances. As I pointed out I don’t really believe in Schachmann for the 2022 Paris-Nice and I think Vlasov, silver medalist last year, is Bora’s best chance to win this race three times in a row.
Vlasov has shown great form in several races this year, most recently finishing 4th in the UAE Tour. As mentioned, he was 2nd last year and, with the tougher parcours this year, he should certainy get the nod from Bora to lead the team.
- Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers)
Another rider who has displayed great form so far in 2022 is Adam Yates. The move to Ineos last year seems to have revitalized his career. At the UAE a week ago, he was the only one capable of following Pogacar in the mountains and making the Slovenian sweat for the leader’s jersey. He finished the race in 2nd place.
Daniel Martinez is another card Ineos can play in this race. He is certainly a better time trialist than Adam Yates and is also in good form, finishing the Volta ao Algarve in 3rd place. I have to say though that I consider Yates’ display in the Emirates way more impressive than Martinez’s in Portugal, which is why, if I was Ineos, I would roll with the British rider for this race. All the while having a fantastic second option in Martinez, of course.
- João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates)
UAE faces a similar dilemma as Ineos, perhaps even a stronger one. Brandon McNulty has been one of, if not the best rider in the world so far in 2022. But João Almeida is also coming off a very strong showing in support of Pogacar in the UAE Tour and will be the team leader in the Giro later this year. The Portuguese rider didn’t get many (or any) chances to be the team leader while in Quick Step. That experience at a big race like the Paris Nice is invaluable for a young rider whose place on the team is likely only second to the best rider in the world, Tadej Pogacar.
With that being said, and much like in Ineos’ situation, having a second option of McNulty’s caliber is a fantastic luxury. Not being the dominant team in a week-long stage race means that it is unlikely that UAE will have to sacrifice any rider’s ambitions for the other, which means that McNulty is a great insurance policy in case the Portuguese can’t get the job done.
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma)
The uncrowned winner of last year’s edition will probably not be a victim of such bad luck again this year. Jumbo-Visma’s team is quite strong with Rohan Dennis, Steven Kruijswijk, and Wout Van Aert, for example, and I doubt they’re going to let anybody challenge one of the two best riders in the world today.
Roglic won three stages in last year’s edition, showcasing his dominance over everybody else before an unfortunate succession of accident took the yellow jersey from him in the final day of the race. This year the route is even more favorable to him, and I don’t foresee the same bad luck plaguing him again this year. Of course, that’s never something anybody can predict, but, at the same time, what are the odds it’s going to happen two years in a row? Much like Pogacar in the UAE Tour, I can’t see anybody beating Roglic in the 2022 Paris-Nice.