Nairo Quintana is on fire in the early 2022 season, performing well once again in the French February warm-up races. On stage 2 of Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var Quintana attacked early on Col d’Eze, producing 6.78 w/kg for 14:07. This is the best climbing performance so far in 2022 by any rider.
Saturday’s effort from Quintana is amongst his best ever, as you can see in the graph below.
Although, the Colombian climber’s level is not yet as high as in the early 2020 season, where he destroyed everyone on the shorter and shallower side of Col d’Eze (7.5 w/kg for 9:25) and Chalet Reynard (6.67 w/kg for 28:12). A week ago in Tour de la Provence Quintana on Montagne de Lure did 6.06 w/kg for 32:44.
Lotto-Soudal puncheur Tim Wellens also did a great performance on Col d’Eze (6.66 w/kg for 14:18). He opted to pace the climb steadily, knowing the crest was far from the finish, whereas Guillaume Martin tried to hold Quintana’s wheel and blew up. Wellens later caught Quintana in the false flat section after Col d’Eze, they rode together to maintain the gap to the other GC contenders, and then Wellens easily won the sprint as expected. Wellens is always good in the early season, which he proved once again with maybe his career’s best ever climbing performance.
Compared with other 2022 climbing performances, Quintana is above everyone with his Col d’Eze watts. It is the closest one to the nuclear level trendline. It is important to mention that the race was not easy before they reached Col d’Eze, which makes Quintana’s effort even more impressive. Some data suggest that riders in the peloton before the climb did 14.29 kj/kg/h for 3 hours and 45 minutes, which is quite hard (more about kj/kg/h), although we have not yet collated enough files to be certain that it was over 14kj/kg/h for nearly four hours.
It is great for fans that Quintana’s form is approaching his top level once again and there is a high chance he will be attacking at the front of the race in the upcoming hilly Faun-Ardèche Classic on 26th February or in Paris-Nice that will start on 6th March with Primož Roglič and Aleksandr Vlasov on the start list, and has the hard summit finish to Turini on Stage 7.