Tadej Pogačar in the early season is unstoppable, today achieving his third stage win in Paris-Nice 2023 and overall victory in the prestigious WorldTour stage race. On the final day on Col d’Eze the Slovenian produced a very good climbing performance, dropping everyone on the short climb and winning by a huge margin.
The stage was short and full of medium mountains. Wout Poels attacked early on the Cote de Peille climb (6.42 km, 7.20%) and did 6.38 ᵉw/kg for 16:36min. This was the climb where the action kicked off in Paris-Nice last year, but the weather was significantly better this year. The peloton with GC riders was 30 seconds slower and pushed on the climb 5.93 ᵉw/kg in the draft, saving a lot of energy.
Everything was decided on Col d’Eze. It was climbed from the steep western side which was used in the 2022 Paris-Nice edition. When arriving to the base with the GC group, Matteo Jorgenson spent 2568 kilojoules in 2:40 hours which is 13.78 kj/kg/h. A high/moderate tempo but nothing close to the 2022 levels when Jumbo-Visma paced very hard from the beginning of the stage.
The pace was high from the bottom of Col d’Eze thanks to UAE-Emirates’ new climber Felix Großschartner who gave all his energy. After the Austrian finished his pull Simon Yates accelerated with 4.3 km remaining but Pogačar had diamonds in the legs on this day and the Slovene launched a strong attack with 4 km to the crest on his home roads, with no one able to respond.
The wind was neutral on the climb but there was more tailwind (light blue sections) and crosswind (dark blue) on sections where Pogačar attacked and was solo while the headwind part was more in the beginning (red) when Pogačar and others GC riders were sitting in the draft.
Pogačar won by 33 seconds and was not brought back by the GC group containing Vingegaard, Gaudu, Yates and Jorgenson. It was his 3rd stage win in the 2023 Paris-Nice and good preparation for Spring classics.
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Pogačar did the climb in 15 minutes and 22 seconds, while pushing an estimated 6.97 ᵉw/kg. The closest rivals lost 42 seconds to the UAE-Emirates superstar on the climb alone. Pogačar was by 1 minute and 29 seconds faster than Simon Yates in 2022 but there was a very strong headwind on that day – one of the strongest headwinds we have taken into calculations in the last few years.
Pogačar was again very close to the red generational trendline. It shows how consistent he is and can push his best watts not only in the Tour de France but also in the early season. With this form, Pogačar should be a big favourite for Ronde van Vlaanderen where it will be hard to keep with him up on the short climbs.
Taking into account the fatigue before the climb and that it was the eighth stage of a hard stage race, this might be the best climbing performance of the season as in the Middle Eastern races the kilojoules and tempo before the climbs on pancake flat parcours was not anywhere near the difficulty of this race.