January 5 th 2022 - 11:30
First of all, a strong wish, shared by the peloton, organisers, local authorities and all of us alike – making it back to the Promenade des Anglais for the finale of the 80th edition of Pari-Nice. What greatest signal of a return to a form of normality could we dream of after two testing years when the Covid-19 pandemic and the tragedy that struck the valleys of Roya and Vesubie left their marks? The Race to the Sun is an annual celebration of the return to Spring and sunny days, and the 80-year-old race is in its best shape to turn back to its primary objective – to raise smiles on the faces of the crowds flocking along the Nice seafront.
Otherwise, Paris-Nice is not going to change what has made its identity since 1933. As a result, the race will celebrate its anniversary in traditional fashion and pay homage to some of its most iconic monuments. The little-known corners of the Yvelines, the long and windy plains of the Beauce, the time-trial indicating the passage from North to South, the midweek ascent of the Croix de Chaubouret followed by the Espigoulier pass as a foretaste to the weekend and the presence of Col d’Èze in the final stage around Nice; all those moments will bring back memories to those familiar with the first big stage race of the season. But by looking more deeply into the perfectly balanced course, you will spot new details at every corner of the route that should make the race as exciting as it has been in recent years.
The tricky early stages could favour echelons or bunch sprints, the short and technical time trial in Montlucon should not make too much of an impact on the final outcome, unlike the superb midweek stage in the Ardèche, with a 3,350-metres elevation, or the thrilling mountain stage up to the Turini pass one the penultimate day, while a revisited Col d’Èze will be tackled for the first time by another side. The race will also visit the Creuse department for only the second time after 1996. All this and more should whet the appetite of all the riders hoping to take over from Maximilian Schachmann, the winner of the last two editions. Always the same yet always different, Paris-Nice will keep surprising you!