Paris - Nice || 5 - 12 March 2017
75th edition of the Race to the Sun Recent History
2016 | THOMAS Geraint
2015 | PORTE Richie
2014 | BETANCUR Carlos
2013 | PORTE Richie
2012 | WIGGINS Bradley
2011 | MARTIN Tony
2010 | CONTADOR Alberto
2009 | SANCHEZ Luis Leon
2008 | REBELLIN Davide
2007 | CONTADOR Alberto
|6.||HENAO Sergio Luis||0:44|
A summary of last year's most exciting stage
And the stage in full The ParcoursStage 1
Bois-d'Arcy / Bois-d'Arcy
A relatively boring flat stage with a potentially tricky finish.Stage 2
Rochefort-en-Yvelines / Amilly
Another boring flat stage, this time with a straightforward finish.
Chablis / Chalon-sur-Saône
More flat roads.Stage 4
Beaujeu / Mont Brouilly
Probably the first interesting stage and a very important one for the final GC, an ITT with the finish on Mont Brouilly, as an apology for last year's debacle when the stage to Mont Brouilly was cancelled due to snow. Mont Brouilly is 3km at 7.7%, but it is a very irregular climb which alternates flat sections with extremely steep ones. This is the profile provided last year:
Interestingly, the stats are a bit different, but in last year's route details the climb is also listed as 3km at 7.7%.
I wonder what TT set-up the riders will use. Will someone dare to go for a bike switch or will we see the riders on road bikes with TT bars? I remember that at last year's Vuelta al Pais Vasco ITT, Magnus Bäckstedt criticized Nairo Quintana's bike switch, saying that you'd need at least 10km of flat to have a net gain. Well, how interesting that there are just over 10 flat kilometers before the climb Stage 5
Quincié-en-Beaujolais / Bourg-de-Péage
Lots of up and down in the first part of the stage but still likely to end in a sprint.
Aubagne / Fayence
A very demanding stage, with the Col de l'Espigoulier (8.9km/5.6%) right after the start and then at the end a combination of the 1st-category Col de Bourigaille with a short, steep finish in Fayence. As if this wasn't demanding enough on it's own, the organizers decided this should be a circuit, so we have two sides of the Bourigaille included (first time 5.5km/6.1%, second time 8.1km/5.9%) and the riders will pass the finish twice. The parcours definitely invites attacks from further out from those who lost time in the ITT, but with two tough days to come, the GC favorites might let it come down to an explosive battle up the final hill (1.3km/9.8%). I think there is a high chance the victory will go to someone from the break.
Nice / Col de la Couillole
The queen stage of this year's race which will likely decide the outcome. In a very bold move, the organizers included the Col de la Couillole, the highest point ever for Paris-Nice, but remembering last year's race we can't be sure it will actually be climbed. For the sake of this race preview, let's assume the weather gods behave and we will see a big battle. Couillole is extremely tough, especially for this time of the year, with 15.7km at 7.1%, but the combination with the Col Saint-Martin (7.5km/7.2%) makes it truly epic. Likely, we will see the GC favorites battle for the stage and the yellow jersey.Stage 8
Nice / Nice
After stage 7, the general classification will have been more or less sorted out, but this final stage, the classic Col d'Eze stage, still presents one last opportunity for those who dare to take a risk. Last year, we saw Alberto Contador attack with over 50km to go on the Côte de Peille (6.5km/6.9%) to find 15 seconds to claim the yellow jersey. He knows this stage like no other, he managed to win this stage and
the GC with an attack from far out in 2007. He was ultimately unsuccessful last year but it was a battle all the way to the line. Hopefully, we'll witness another thriller this year.The Overall Contenders
The main favorites for the overall victory are Alberto Contador
and Richie Porte
, 2nd and 3rd on GC in 2016. Both have had a good start to the season, both have declared they are coming to win, both are known for their skill in one-week stage races, both have a great TT in their legs, especially on hilly terrain and both are 2-time winners of the race! The main difference is probably that Porte has had a long break since his start of the season in Australia, building form, whereas Contador started his season later but completed both the Vuelta a Andalucia and the Abu Dhabi Tour recently. I honestly can't say which of the two is more likely to win, it could go either way.
Two other favorites are Ilnur Zakarin and Alejandro Valverde, they are both decent TTers and a good climbers, but I'd have to put them one step below Contador and Porte. However, if those are watching each other, these two have a good chance to walk away with the prize.
Another good allrounder on the startlist is Ion Izagirre, but his climbing skills aren't likely to be good enough to win the race.
Then we have a few riders who will find themselves on the back foot after the ITT, Romain Bardet, Simon Yates, Warren Barguil, Daniel Martin and David de la Cruz for QuickStep, and most of what Cannondale is bringing. QS and Cannondale also bring Julian Alaphilippe and Andrew Talansky, who can, at times, ride a decent TT and climb well, but I feel the race is too tough for Alaphilippe and I never expect anything at all from Talansky because he usually disappoints.The Sprinters
The sprinters' lineup looks very tasty, we have several big names at the start, most notably Marcel Kittel, André Greipel
, Arnaud Démare and Nacer Bouhanni, but also Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb, Dylan Groenewegen, Michael Matthews, Sonny Colbrelli and Bryan Coquard.
Others to keep an eye on are Ben Swift, Sam Bennett, Dan McLay, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Niccoló Bonifazio, Andrea Guardini and Danny van Poppel.
The full startlist can be found here