It is Paris-Nice Nouveau time!
January 6 th 2021 - 11:40
On March 14, 2020, at La Colmiane, Nairo Quintana won the last stage of Paris-Nice, whose overall winner was Maximilian Schachmann. The Race to the Sun unwittingly became the last major sport event to be held before coronavirus forced a large part of the world into lockdown. Since then, cycling proved its formidable capacity to reinvent itself by staging most of its monuments, and notably the Tour de France, in record time.
The 79th edition of Paris-Nice was determined to return to La Colmiane in 2021. To go full circle. But also and above all to pay homage to the populations of the Tinée and Vésubie valleys, bitterly struck by storms and landslides last October. We could not make it back to Vesubie in 2020. But we will soon return.
To reinvent itself is precisely what Paris-Nice is doing every year, even slightly. And it will again be the case at the start of a 2021 year that we hope to be the season of hopes instead of the season of threats.
Like good wine, Paris-Nice has always made the most of its traditions while adding the touch of novelty which makes each vintage unique. The 2021 edition will look for its most spicy flavours in the mounts of Maconnais and Beaujolais with an extremely hilly 4th stage which should provide one of the most exciting battles of the race. Through the hill of Solutré, two ascents of Mont Brouilly – a classic of the Race to the Sun since Julian Alaphilippe won a time trial there in 2017 –, and a tough finale in Chiroubles, riders will have to swallow 3,500 metres of elevation. Overall positions, already established after a 14-km individual time trial in Gien the previous day, should be settled for a while before the final weekend around Nice, where the race will return to its familiar playground, including La Colmiane, ridden three times in the last four years.
After the Brignoles-Biot ride on Friday, identical to the one held in 2011, the dense final stage will again be held on the hills around Nice on the course that the riders were not allowed to tackle in 2020. Another nail-biting finale is to be expected, bearing in mind that the overall winning margins in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were all under four seconds. For the 12th time, the Grand Depart will take place in the Yvelines department with a stage around Saint-Cyr-l’École, which saw the Tour peloton ride past in September. Recent editions showed that stages in the area were spectacular both for their landscapes and for the fierce competition on its roads.