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Simon Yates' attacking display creates another dramatic finale at Paris-Nice

NICE FRANCE MARCH 13 Simon Yates of United Kingdom and Team Bikeexchange Jayco competes during the 80th Paris Nice 2022 Stage 8 a 1156km stage from Nice to Nice ParisNice WorldTour on March 13 2022 in Nice France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
Simon Yates' Col d'Eze attack brought him the stage win on another dramatic final stage at Paris-Nice (Image credit: Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images)

As far as WorldTour races go, the final stages of Paris-Nice ranks as perhaps the most dramatic day on the racing calendar. Year after year, the race in and around the Cote d'Azur city provides tension, drama, turnarounds, and heartbreak, and it was no different on Sunday.

Recent editions have seen Richie Porte (in 2015), Marc Soler (2018), and Max Schachmann (2021) grab the race lead on the final day, while Alberto Contador fell seconds short of doing so in 2016 and 2017.

In 2019 and 2020 Nairo Quintana and Tiesj Benoot launched final-stage assaults, also missing out on the yellow jersey. This time around, Simon Yates could tell the same 'close but no cigar' story, repeating his 2018 second place to Soler, albeit in different circumstances.

Having ceded the race to Primož Roglič on Saturday, the BikeExchange-Jayco leader went on the offensive on the final climb of the race, the Col d'Eze. At one point on the climb, he was almost 30 seconds up and yellow seemed a real possibility, before Roglič's teammate Wout van Aert came to the rescue and helped close it back to nine seconds at the line.

Speaking after the stage, Yates said that his mind was focussed purely on winning the stage today, which he did after 19 kilometres of solo riding, adding to his three previous stage victories at the race.

"I just wanted the stage today," he said afterwards. "I think the GC was already too far away anyway.For me to take that much time back today it would've been a really big ask. So yeah, I'm just happy with the stage win.

"At the start of the climb it was [Nairo] Quintana who was making the pace, he was really setting a strong tempo and I was only really thinking about the stage win. I'm not going to win a sprint again Van Aert or Roglič, so I had to try something, and I wasn't feeling great either.

"I wasn't confident to make an advantage, but if you don't try you never know, so I tried, there was no real tactic."

The race had exploded earlier on the previous climb of the day after Ineos Grenadiers, in particular Omar Fraile, pushed the pace at the front up the Côte de Peille. That climb had, from 2016 to 2019, seen Contador, Soler and Quintana attack for the overall win, but this year the first-category test served as the appetiser for the Eze.

Only Yates, Roglič, Van Aert, Quintana and Ineos Grenadiers' Dani Martínez, who was unlucky to puncture on the descent, were left out front by the top. Yates tried his luck early on the Eze, but it wasn't to be in Nice. He said later that yellow was in his mind, even if he hadn't set out to target the top spot on GC.

"It's always in the back of your mind," he said. "But I always knew on the downhill I would lose some time just because I'm not a very big guy and with the two guys working behind it was always going to be a difficult task.

"It was very difficult, but I've had some experience here in the past in the rain, so I was prepared for it. I was still prepared for it as I came over the line with my gloves still on and everything.

"Now I've had two second places overall," he noted. "Maybe one day I'll come back and try to win again. But I'm happy with what I've done this week."

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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.