It was a big day for the Julian Alaphilippe look-alike Martin Burgaudeau, who seized his opportunity and attacked late from a stalled peloton in Paris-Nice stage 6. The sprinters teams, Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo, underestimated the punchy Frenchman, with Burgaudeau winning the first pro race of his career, while Pedersen and Van Aert finished right behind him from the peloton.
It was a tough day for big sprinters like Sam Bennett and Fabio Jakobsen, but perfect for Mads Pedersen, Wout Van Aert and Biniam Girmay, who are fast and can get over bigger climbs if the pace is not too high. Trek-Segafredo took the most responsibility of controlling the gap to the breakaway, which, only having a two minute gap, was inevitably going to be caught.
The peloton was thinned down on the Col de l’Espigoulier climb (11 km, 4.4%), which crested with 29 km to go. Trek-Segafredo rider Julien Bernard held a steady tempo that was comfortable for his teammate, Mads Pedersen, who has looked strong on climbs in Paris-Nice. It was surprisingly to see that Jumbo-Visma did not try to do pace harder to drop Pedersen as he was the biggest threat to Van Aert in the sprint.
After the climb, four riders, Laporte, Pacher, Zimmerman, Martin, opened up a small gap from the peloton on a short climb close to the finish, but they were not fully committed. Martin Burgaudeau from Total Energies launched an attack from the peleton with 9 km to go and flew past the leading quartet. He was the only person who did not get caught by the peloton after the sprinter teams hesitated and it was looking great for Burgaudeau, who increased his advantage.
Laporte attacked once again with 2 km to go with B&B Hotels – KTM sprinter Luca Mozzatto on his wheel. With a big effort from Trek-Segafredo, the duo was pulled back. Meanwhile, Burgaudeau was getting closer and closer to the finish on a false flat downhill, while Jumbo-Visma started to pace with tired Laporte too late.
The peloton was closing fast, but Burgaudeau managed to win and celebrated after the finish line as Pedersen beat Van Aert in the bunch sprint for 2nd place.
Whilst it was the first pro win for Burgaudeau, at the end of 2021 he showed great results in hilly UCI 1.1 classics, finishing 3rd in Coppa-Sabatini and Boucles de l’Aulne. He continued to perform well also in 2022. 5th in Etoile de Bessege GC, 10th in Drome Classic and 13th in Faun Ardeche Classic with a stacked field. Burgaudeau is only 23-year-old and looks like a rider who suits Ardennes classics, with his contract with TotalEnergies expiring this year.
Stage 7 is the queen stage of Paris-Nice that will finish up the Col de Turini climb (15.2 km, 7.2%). Primož Roglič leads GC by 39 seconds over Simon Yates, who will definitely attack tomorrow if his legs are good. It will be a test for Roglič as he will likely be isolated again, but luckily for him he can mark dangerous attacks and sit behind as he is the leader of the race. It is the stage where Nairo Quintana should go full-gas if he is on February form.