After a month’s hiatus, the 2015 WorldTour continues with Paris-Nice. The Race to the Sun: 1,141 kilometres from the overcast Parisian suburbs to the sunshine of the Cote d’Azur.
- Paris-Nice is run over eight stages, starting with a prologue on Sunday 8th March and concluding on Sunday 15th March with the time-honoured individual time trial up Col d’Eze.
- Stages one and two provide the only opportunities for the sprinters. Some will be looking to add to their mounting 2015 palmares while others will be seeking their first scores on the doors. Thereafter, the race tackles three consecutive mountainous days.
- Stage four, the longest stage of the race, features no less than eight classified climbs and finishes atop the col de la Croix de Chaubouret, a new 10km climb that averages 6.7%, which will have a say in determining the overall winner. However, Carlos Betancur’s successor will have to despatch some of the world’s best time-triallists to take the overall.
- On stage six the peloton must tackle six cols, including three cat 1s, before a lengthy descent into Nice.
- This parcours will favour a climber who can time-trial rather than a pure climber. But he’ll have to overcome 11 previous Paris-Nice podium finishers, including four former winners.
Three to watch
Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step): Runner-up in the recent Volta ao Algarve, a noted time-triallist, he’s looking for his first victory in the rainbow jersey and his first overall victory in a one-week WorldTour stage race to stamp his credentials for grand tour team leadership. It’s a big ask given the depth of this year’s field, but you sense the time is ripe to add to his overall victory in last year’s Volta ao Algarve and he’s coming to the race with plenty of support.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): Just pipped at the post by a resurgent Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) at last weekend’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the powerful Norwegian will be looking to add to his 2015 tally of four victories ahead of his defence of his Milan-San Remo crown. Cavendish isn’t riding but Kristoff will be challenged by the likes of Frenchmen Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and his former teammate Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) but more probably by John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) who, unlike the French riders, already has a victory in 2015.
Bob Jungels (Trek): The winner of the early-season Etoile de Besseges will be hoping to use that victory as a stepping stone to bigger and better ones this season. Most likely to set his cap at the best young rider jersey, he’ll be hoping to derail the continuation of Warren Barguil’s (Giant-Alpecin) joust with Fabio Aru (Astana) which started at last year’s Vuelta a Espana. He’ll also have to see off Romain Bardet (Ag2r), fifth overall at the recent Vuelta a Andalcia.
Link: Official race website
(Header: Promenade des Anglais courtesy of Nice Tourist Office)