Another great performance by Brandon McNulty in the early 2022 season. The American rider attacked with other climbers from the big teams, Sepp Kuss, Mauri Vansevenant and Clement Champoussin, and later dropped them on the major climb of Faun-Ardèche Classic. McNulty soloed to his second and the UAE-Emirates team’s ninth victory of 2022.
The hilly French classic happened on the same day as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the UAE Tour queen stage, and did not get much attention, but the start list of Faun-Ardèche Classic was impressive. Primož Roglič and Julian Alaphilippe were the headliners.
This was Roglič’s first race in 2022. He tested his legs early on Mur de Cornas (1.9 km, 8.2%), although it was third to last climb in the race. The world champion Alaphilippe countered his attack right before the short descent, thinning down the leading group.
The next climb was Saint-Romain-de-Lerps (6.3km, 7.1%). Alaphilippe continued to be aggressive at the start of the major climb, but stopped after he could not drop anyone. The tempo slowed, and after a brief conversation with Roglič, Sepp Kuss launched a strong attack. Later Mauri Vansevenant, Brandon McNulty and Clement Champoussin joined the American. The strongest teams in the race, Jumbo-Visma, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, UAE-Emirates and AG2R Citroën, were all represented in the attack. It meant that no one would be able or willing to pace back this strong quartet.
McNulty was feeling good and attacked the group. Vansevenant was not able to hold his wheel as McNulty flew past the last survivor of the breakaway, Bruno Armirail, who did a great pull on the Montagne de Lure stage in Tour de la Provence.
The peloton was not going to catch the leading riders. It was possible to see that Alaphilippe was annoyed after no one wanted to pace. Jonas Vingegaard even attacked for a second to see the reaction from others, but then stopped. Alaphilippe, while his team-mate Vansevenant was up the road, half-attacked and paced for no particular reason. He clearly wanted to fight for victory. Later Cofidis rider Remy Rochas paced for Guillaume Martin, but the leaders already had an over a minute advantage.
Meanwhile, McNulty was happy going solo. He was chased by Vansevenant and Champoussin, who dropped Kuss. The American said that he was dropped to the team’s radio, but Jumbo-Visma riders in the peloton (Vingegaard, Roglič, Oomen) did not change their plan. Later, Kuss caught Vansevenant and Champoussin on a descent.
It was impossible to catch McNulty, who is a great time-trialist. His early 2022 results are insane, after his huge performance at the Olympic Road Race at the end of last year:
- 1st in Faun-Ardèche Classic (1.Pro)
- 2nd GC in Volta ao Algarve (2.Pro)
- 2nd in Trofeo Pollença – Port d’Andratx (1.1)
- 4th in Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana (1.1)
- 1st in Trofeo Calvia (1.1)
Vansevenant finished 2nd, beating Kuss in the sprint. They both dropped Champoussin on the last climb. Champoussin finished 6th as he was caught by Lennard Kämna and Guillaume Martin, who attacked late from the peloton.
The race was decided on the Saint-Romain-de-Lerps climb (6.3km, 7.1%). Three of the four riders who attacked uploaded their power on Strava:
Saint-Romain-de-Lerps power numbers
- Brandon McNulty 450 watts for 16:07 (6,52 w/kg)
- Clement Champoussin 386 watts for 16:25 (6,43 w/kg)
- Sepp Kuss 391 watts for 16:33 (6,41 w/kg)
The race before the big climb was very hard. According to McNulty’s strava file he spent 4035 kilojoules in 4 hours and did 14,54 kj/h/kg, which is hard tempo for one-day race that makes his performance even more impressive.
McNulty’s average power for the last 52 minutes of the race was 396 watts (5,74 w/kg). This segment includes the last three climbs. He also produced big power on flat sections, for example, in the last 3 kilometres McNulty put out 417 watts for 4:08.
On Sunday, practically the same riders will start in Drome Classic. The hilly French race suits puncheurs like Andrea Bagioli, who won Drome Classic in 2021. The best two puncheurs in the world, Primož Roglič and Julian Alaphilippe, also will race.