A matter of seconds

March 10 th 2024 - 05:36

As has often been the case in the past, Paris-Nice could be decided by a few seconds in the classic final stage in the Nice hinterland. Brandon McNulty (UAE Emirates) will bring a four-seconds lead over fellow-American Matteo Jorgenson (Visma-Lease a Bike) into Sunday’s 109.3-km ride and though slim, it might be enough to be crowned the winner in the Race to the Sun.

Three times in succession between 2016 and 2018, the final gap between the GC winner and his runner-up was four seconds or less, and a tight contest is expected again on winding, up-and-down, wet and slippery terrain. With five registered climbs on a short course – Cote de Levens, Cote de Peille, Col des Quatre Chemins among them – but also Col d’Eze, and as many tricky descents, McNulty will need strong nerves and a solid team to retain his yellow and white jersey.

“I like this kind of day more than a long climb like yesterday but it’s going to be a really tough race,” the American admitted. With Jay Vine, Joao Almeida, Felix Grossschartner, Finn Fisher-Black or Nils Politt, the current race leader can count on experienced and talented support to avoid the traps of the day.

But the pressure will be intense from Jorgenson, who claims a “win is possible”, but also from Belgian champion Remco Evenepoel, currently 4th overall, 36 seconds adrift, who has yet to produce the attacking cycling his many fans expect of him. Danish champion Mattias Skjelmose is also ideally positioned to try and topple the American as he lies third overall, 35 seconds adrift. His team-mate Mads Pedersen could be helpful as he bids to retain his green jersey, a garment Skjelmose can also look to conquer.

The polka-dot jersey seems in safe hands with Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) leading Italian Christian Scaroni (Astana) by ten points, but the Frenchman would be well inspired to try and add a few points to his tally in the early climbs as 45 points are up for grabs and he only has 44 right now.  

With four of the top five riders being under 25, the white jersey battle will be as disputed as the one for overall victory.    

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