A Race For The Daring



The route of the 72nd edition of the Paris-Nice, announced this morning in the General Council of Yvelines, where the race will start for the 5th consecutive time, offers the most enterprising riders some previously unseen opportunities. Rouleurs and climbers will have a crack at victory alongside the fighters and puncheurs of the pack.

It is a start-of-season race unlike any other. Traditionally, Paris-Nice kicks off the European season of prestige stage races, where the riders who will set the season alight face up to each other for the first time. This year, the route across France will force everyone to be on their guard at all times, knowing that no stage will give a decisive advantage to a consistent rouleur or an unbeatable climber. The elimination of the time trial, giving way to eight road stages that are mainly designed as one-day classics, means that the brute strength of the time-triallists will not be rewarded this year. The three previous winners of the event (Tony Martin, Bradley Wiggins, and Richie Porte) are the ones who will suffer most from this change. It also means that the mileage has been extended to a new record: 1447 kilometres (904 miles), the longest distance since 1968, one of the years in which the Race to the Sun was fought over nine days.

As well as the absence of a time-trial, the search for steep, rough climbs rather than highly selective ascents will reward audacity over the natural talent of the mountaineers. The spreading out of difficulties will, however, allow the most decisive riders to make their mark on the hardest sections, where the seconds won will have a big effect by the time the peloton reaches the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. That will be the case of the stage to Belleville, where the riders will probably arrive spread out after their encounter with the fearsome Mount Brouilly and its passes with 25% gradients. Revenge could be exacted around Fayence, where the pack will come back into the frame on a steep ascent that will reward explosive riding. The following day during the entire 195-km long stage, the race leader and his team will have to watch out for the all-terrain adventurers who rarely had such an opportunity to shine on Paris-Nice. The exploration of the hinterland of Nice will be made at an even more frenetic pace towards the end of the race, with less than 80 kilometres (50 miles) including five category 2 and 1 climbs before diving down towards Nice from the Col d'Eze. And the title might still depend on the time bonuses to be picked up on the finish line!

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Jersey wearers after the stage 8

Classifications after the stage 8


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