Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) sprinted to the stage seven victory at Paris-Nice after a battle for the classification up the Col de Turini summit finish.
Roglič, Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) traded blows as they climbed, unable to categorically dislodge each other, but Roglič's superior sprint ensured he could steal away in the closing metres to claim his first win of the season.
The Jumbo-Visma leader increases his lead over Simon Yates in the general classification to 47 seconds as Martínez moves up to third, a further 13 seconds adrift with one stage remaining.
How it happened
The big news at the start of the day was the abandonment of Kevin Geniets, hit by an advertisement board as he made his way through the mixed zone before the rollout, unable to shake the injuries sustained and joining an ever-growing list of DNS and DNFs at this often attritional race.
With the kilometres ticking down in this edition of Paris-Nice, a large group headed up the road almost as soon as the flag had dropped for the start of stage seven, a party consisting of Ryan Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe), Fabio Felline (Astana-Qazaqstan), David Gaudu, Olivier Le Gac, Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ), Julien Bernard, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Morkov (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Ivan Garcia Cortina, Gregor Muhlberger, Albert Torres (Movistar), Cees Bol, Nico Denz (Team DSM), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Simon Carr, Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), Franck Bonnamour and Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM).
The Ineos and Arkéa-Samsic-led peloton kept the breakaway on a tight leash, however, allowing them barely more than 90 seconds, Groupama-FDJ’s Quentin Pacher trying to head off on his own from the front group but dragged back by his collaborators.
DSM’s Nico Denz took the maximum points on offer at the summit of the Côte de Coursegoules, the only other climb on the menu today being the Turini summit finish.
After the descent, the road flattening out, the bunch started to gain on the break, riders dropping like flies now and less than 100 riders left out on the road and in the race.
Splits in the peloton caused Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and UAE Team Emirates’ João Almeida and Brandon McNulty to be distanced, but only momentarily, the gap to the group out front now under the minute mark, then bouncing back up again slightly as it reached 50km to go.
Soon, members of the escape started to drop off and be caught. David Gaudu, Mads Pedersen, Cees Bol, who then abandoned, before Michael Mørkøv waved hello to Luke Rowe as he was too absorbed back into the bunch.
As the road started to tilt uphill on the approach to the Turini, the peloton started to thin out quickly. Wout van Aert was soon in trouble and dropped a kilometre into the climb, Ineos amassing at the front.
Gregor Mühlberger was the sole breakaway rider left out front with 10km to go, before a reorganising at the front of the bunch, Nicolas Edet bring team-mate Nairo Quintana into position, all of the contenders now alert as the climb proper began.
Mühlberger still had 40 seconds with under 9km remaining, Rohan Dennis bringing Roglič to the very front of the yellow jersey group, Adam Yates and Quintana lurking behind, before Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) was the latest to drop out of contention.
With 7km to go Yates made his move, really punching out as Roglič and Dennis watched him go. Roglič then reacted, followed by Dani Martinez and Quintana, before Quintana then tried to go, dragged back into the Roglič trio.
Yates was stone-faced as he got up out of the saddle and worked against the double-digit gradient, but Roglič had soon dragged Yates back into the fold, Martinez then going as soon as contact was made, Roglič forced to chase once more, as Adam’s brother Simon chased back onto this group.
Mühlberger could now see this quintet behind him with 6km remaining, Guillaume Martin, Jack Haig and Vlasov amongst the other chasers behind the yellow jersey group.
And it was the yellow jersey who made the next move, Martinez chasing, Quintana scrambling to try and get back in touch. Roglič and Martinez were away, however, Mühlberger now passed, the Yates brothers linking up with the Movistar rider.
With 5km to go Roglič and Martinez had 14 seconds on the Yates twins and Quintana. Adam Yates then got on the radio, dropping off from his group, as Martinez put in a dig up ahead.
Roglič looked in control, however, Martinez holding the pace and taking turns to pull, the Colombian wanting to put time into Simon Yates to move up the general classification.
Slowly but surely Yates was dragging the front two back, only five seconds the difference as they approached the 3km banner.
With 2.7km to go contact was re-established, a big battle underway already as spots of snow appeared at the side of the road.
The pace slowed in the front four, riding side-by-side. Looking around ensued, Roglič at the back, watching, waiting, before going once more, Quintana right on his wheel.
Behind, Adam Yates had joined the poursuivant group, 20 seconds behind, so doing enough at the minute to maintain his second place in the GC.
Simon Yates then attacked with less than 2km to go, Roglič following the blistering effort from the Brit, Quintana losing the wheel as Martinez scrambled across, Yates going once more with 1.2km to the line but unable to split the trio.
Under the flamme rouge and Quntana made his way back, coming through to the front, before Martinez found something extra and kicked, Quintana slipping again but refusing to give up.
With the slowing of the pace, João Almeida had managed to climb his way to within touching distance of this front group, Quintana coming through to the front again.
From behind Yates and Roglič both kicked, but no-one would be able to match the Slovenian, sprinting away to claim the stage win and solidify his lead.
Paris-Nice 2022, stage seven: Nice to Col de Turini (155.2km)
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-02-47
2. Dani Martínez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time
3. Simon Yates (GBr) BikeExchange-Jayco, at two seconds
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic, at 9s
5. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 11s
6. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates, at 25s
7. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious, at 27s
8. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 29s
9. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 44s
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain-Victorious, at 56s
General classification after stage seven
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 22-23-34
2. Simon Yates (GBr) BikeExchange-Jayco, at 47s
3. Dani Martínez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-00
4. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-50
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic, at 2-04
6. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious, at 2-12
7. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-22
8. Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies, at 2-56
9. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Cofidis, at 3-13
10. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-29
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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