The 23-year-old American was part of a group that went clear on the penultimate time up the Côte de Val d'Enfer, and he then disanced his breakaway companions to take victory.
It was the American’s second victory of the season after also winning the Trofeo Calvia last month, and he signalled his continuing good form by placing second overall at the Volta ao Algarve.
World champion Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) had started the attacking, but as a tactical battle commenced, the winning breakaway slipped away and finished at the back of a reduced peloton.
Sepp Kuss had launched the winning move, but McNulty slipped clear finishing 45 seconds clear and the Jumbo-Visma rider was beaten into second in a sprint with Mauri Vansevenant (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl).
The peloton were left battling for seventh place with Alaphilippe and Roglič on the back.
How it unfolded
Last year’s edition saw David Gaudu (Groupama – FDJ) take victory after a two-up sprint with Clément Champoussin (AG2R Citroën Team). Gaudu did not start this year’s edition to defend his title with all eyes on world champion Julian Alaphilippe.
Starting his season at the Ardèche Classic was Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who was looking to test his winter training ahead of Paris-Nice next week.
The Ardèche Classic features over 3,000 metres of climbing and three ascents of the Côte de Val d’Enfer with steep sections of 14%.
Roglič, along with many of his race rivals, was treating it as a double weekend of French races with the Drôme Classic the following day.
The 168km course saw riders compete over eight classified climbs with the race starting and finishing in Guilherand-Granges.
A difficult final 29km included the Mur de Cornas, Saint Romain de Lerps and finally the Côte de Val d’Enfer, which is just 1.5km in length but with an average of 10% and it cam just 7km from the finish.
Attacks started as soon as the flag dropped on the Côte du Pin with riders keen to make the day’s breakaway, while QuickStep-AlphaVinyl and Jumbo-Visma monitored who escaped the bunch.
A three-man breakaway eventually formed consisting of Bruno Armirail (Groupama – FDJ), Jérémy Cabot (TotalEnergies) and Mathias Le Turnier (Team U Nantes Atlantique) with the trio quickly building a lead of over four minutes.
On the second climb of the day, Col de la Justice, the bunch split with Groupama – FDJ and
Lotto Soudal being caught out and having to expend energy chasing 13 kilometres before regrouping.
After the opening exchanges the race settled down with the peloton sitting 2:27 back with 55 kilometres of racing remaining.
Coming onto the long descent to the foot of Côte de Val d'Enfer, it was Le Turnier who was dropped from the breakaway.
On the penultimate time up the Côte de Val d'Enfer, nicknamed ‘the valley of hell’, the favourites started to begin pushing the pace with Bora-Hansgrohe and Jumbo-Visma gathering on the front as the gap came down to two minutes with 35km remaining.
The breakaway split on the Mur du Cornas with Armirail going clear alone breaking his partner with 28km left.
Behind, Jumbo-Visma set up an attack for Roglič which was countered by Alaphilippe taking a group of eight riders at the head of proceedings.
On the descent, Alaphilippe continued his assault but was again followed by Roglič and Brandon McNulty), as the leading group reduced to around 10 riders.
Jumbo-Visma had another card to play as Sepp Kuss was the next to launch an attack with 26 kilometres left of the race. Kuss was joined at the front by McNulty, Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) and Clément Champoussin (AG2R Citroën Team).
The newly formed breakaway caught Amirail at the head of proceedings and had a gap of 30 seconds on the group of favourites.
McNulty launched his bid for victory and as the breakaway allowed him a small gap that then grew to 10 seconds with 23 kilometres remaining. Three kilometres later, on the descent of Saint-Romain-de-Lerps, and with only the final climb remaining, McNulty led by 17 seconds from a chase pairing of Vansevenant and Champoussin, with the bunch now 1:10 behind.
Kuss battled his way back to Vansevenant and Champoussin, with the chasing trio 30 seconds behind lone leader McNulty and the bunch 1:20 back with 10 kilometres remaining.
Hitting the final 1.5 kilometre climb with just 7.5 kilometres remaining, McNulty was riding strongly and alone as he hit the 14% gradients.
In the chasing breakaway, Champoussin was dropped as Kuss and Vansevenant looked to pull back the 43-second deficit.
Behind the peloton were left with too much to do on the final climb as the breakaway battled for the podium spots.
McNulty soloed to victory, while Vansevenant outsprinted Kuss for second place at 45 seconds and the chasers came in at 1:44.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Brandon Mcnulty (USA) Uae Team Emirates||4:26:36|
|2||Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team||0:00:45|
|3||Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma|
|4||Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora - Hansgrohe||0:01:33|
|5||Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis|
|6||Clément Champoussin (Fra) Ag2R Citroen Team||0:01:36|
|7||Quentin Pacher (Fra) Groupama - Fdj||0:01:44|
|8||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|9||Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Ag2R Citroen Team|
|10||Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Totalenergies|
|11||Georg Zimmermann (Ger) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux|
|12||Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal|
|13||Mathieu Burgaudeau (Fra) Totalenergies|
|14||Juan Ayuso Pesquera (Spa) Uae Team Emirates|
|15||Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux|
|16||Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis|
|17||Stefano Oldani (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix|
|18||Sylvain Moniquet (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|19||Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) Ag2R Citroen Team|
|20||Elie Gesbert (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|21||Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama - Fdj|
|22||Pierre Latour (Fra) Totalenergies|
|23||Sam Oomen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|24||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|25||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|26||Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma|
|27||Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:01:57|
|28||Andréa Mifsud (Fra) Nice Metropole Cote D'Azur||0:03:12|
|29||Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team||0:03:22|
|30||Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:03:34|
|31||Torstein Træen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||0:03:53|
|32||Victor Koretzky (Fra) B&B Hotels - Ktm|
|33||Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma|
|34||Romain Gregoire (Fra) Groupama - Fdj|
|35||Diego Ulissi (Ita) Uae Team Emirates|
|36||Jan Polanc (Slo) Uae Team Emirates|
|37||Mikael Cherel (Fra) Ag2R Citroen Team||0:04:12|
|38||Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek - Segafredo|
|39||Fabien Doubey (Fra) Totalenergies||0:04:16|
|40||Jacob Eriksson (Swe) Riwal Cycling Team|
|41||Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|42||Kenny Molly (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces Wb|
|43||Nans Peters (Fra) Ag2R Citroen Team|
|44||Andres Camilo Ardila Ordoñez (Col) Uae Team Emirates||0:04:19|
|45||Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|46||Thibault Ferasse (Fra) B&B Hotels - Ktm||0:04:51|
|47||Tom Mainguenaud (Fra) Go Sport - Roubaix Lille Metropole||0:05:45|
|48||Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama - Fdj||0:06:02|
|49||Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux||0:06:58|
|50||Reuben Thompson (NZl) Groupama - Fdj|
|51||Harold Alfonso Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana Qazaqstan Team|
|52||Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|53||Mauro Schmid (Swi) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|54||Hugo Page (Fra) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux|
|55||Juan Pedro Lopez Perez (Spa) Trek - Segafredo|
|56||Winner Andrew Anacona (Col) Team Arkea - Samsic||0:08:50|
|57||Jeremy Cabot (Fra) Totalenergies|
|58||Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|59||Maxime Jarnet (Fra) Go Sport - Roubaix Lille Metropole|
|60||Asbjørn Hellemose (Den) Trek - Segafredo||0:10:31|
|61||Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Ag2R Citroen Team||0:10:44|
|62||Théo Delacroix (Fra) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux|
|63||Niklas Eg (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||0:11:08|
|64||Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek - Segafredo|
|65||Floris De Tier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:12:47|
|66||Torjus Sleen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||0:13:10|
|67||Gil Gelders (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces Wb Development Team|
|68||Sebastian Schönberger (Aut) B&B Hotels - Ktm|
|69||Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis|
|70||Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Cofidis|
|71||Emmanuel Morin (Fra) Team U Nantes Atlantique|
|72||Maël Guegan (Fra)|
|73||Yoann Paillot (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|74||Anthony Maldonado (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|75||Antoine Berlin (Mon) Nice Metropole Cote D'Azur|
|76||Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels - Ktm|
|77||Dorian Godon (Fra) Ag2R Citroen Team|
|78||Laurent Pichon (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|79||Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|80||Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek - Segafredo|
|81||Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama - Fdj|
|82||Julien Simon (Fra) Totalenergies|
|83||Jordan Jegat (Fra) Team U Nantes Atlantique|
|84||Nicolas Edet (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|85||Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Team|
|86||Miguel Heidemann (Ger) B&B Hotels - Ktm|
|87||Ben Zwiehoff (Ger) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|88||Valentin Ferron (Fra) Totalenergies|
|89||Anthon Charmig (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|90||Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama - Fdj|
|91||Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces Wb|
|92||Alexandre Delettre (Fra) Cofidis|
|93||Maxime Urruty (Fra) Nice Metropole Cote D'Azur|
|94||Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux|
|95||Laurens Huys (Bel) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux|
|96||Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Cofidis|
|97||Victor Lafay (Fra) Cofidis|
|98||Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels - Ktm|
|99||Jean Goubert (Fra) Nice Metropole Cote D'Azur|
|100||Kévin Besson (Fra) Nice Metropole Cote D'Azur|
|101||Gijs Leemreize (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|102||Elmar Reinders (Ned) Riwal Cycling Team|
|103||Lucas Eriksson (Swe) Riwal Cycling Team|
|104||Mathias Bregnhøj (Den) Riwal Cycling Team||0:15:29|
|105||Martijn Budding (Ned) Riwal Cycling Team|
|106||Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels - Ktm|
|107||Louis Barre (Fra) Team U Nantes Atlantique|
|108||Axel Mariault (Fra) Team U Nantes Atlantique|
|109||Clément Carisey (Fra) Go Sport - Roubaix Lille Metropole|
|110||Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team||0:16:12|
|111||Kamil Malecki (Pol) Lotto Soudal|
|112||Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Astana Qazaqstan Team||0:16:18|
|113||Mathias Le Turnier (Fra) Team U Nantes Atlantique||0:16:51|
|114||Martin Bugge Urianstad (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||0:17:57|
|DNF||Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|DNF||Finn Fisher-Black (NZl) Uae Team Emirates|
|DNF||Joel Suter (Swi) Uae Team Emirates|
|DNF||Ayco Bastiaens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix Development Team|
|DNF||Edward Anderson (USA) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Anton Palzer (Ger) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Trek - Segafredo|
|DNF||Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team|
|DNF||Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) Astana Qazaqstan Team|
|DNF||Nurbergen Nurlykhassym (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Team|
|DNF||Alessandro Verre (Ita) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|DNF||Steff Cras (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Jacob Madsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Anders Halland Johannessen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Johan Meens (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces Wb|
|DNF||Remy Mertz (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces Wb|
|DNF||Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces Wb|
|DNF||Marco Tizza (Ita) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces Wb|
|DNF||Christoffer Lisson (Den) Riwal Cycling Team|
|DNF||Flavien Maurelet (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|DNF||Tony Hurel (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|DNF||Morné Van Niekerk (RSA) St Michel - Auber 93|
|DNF||Thomas Denis (Fra) Go Sport - Roubaix Lille Metropole|
|DNF||Jérémy Leveau (Fra) Go Sport - Roubaix Lille Metropole|
|DNF||Evaldas Šiškevičius (Ltu) Go Sport - Roubaix Lille Metropole|
|DNF||Leo Danes (Fra) Team U Nantes Atlantique|
|DNF||Edouard Bonnefoix (Fra) Nice Metropole Cote D'Azur|
|DNF||Paul Hennequin (Fra) Nice Metropole Cote D'Azur|
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