This Week: Televised on Sky Eurosport 1 & 2
Prologue – March 3rd to Finish – March 10th
Paris-Nice – more commonly known as “The Race to the Sun”
A traditional route south, the eight-day, WorldTour race begins in Houilles on Sunday, March 3. The opening Prologue is a short 2.9-kilometre time trial. It’s the sort of distance that will suit sprinters as much as for the pure time triallists..
Last year’s edition started with a longer 9.4-kilometre test against the clock which saw Bradley Wiggins (Sky) putting time into his rivals from the gun and go on to take the overall win.
The shorter TT this year will allow time differences between riders to be less pronounced, and will give the sprinters a better shot at fighting for the race lead. The following two stages to Nemours (Monday, stage 1) and to Cérilly (Tuesday, stage 2) look to be a good bet for a bunch sprint finish.
The terrain will then gets hillier suiting breakaways and attackers over the next two days to Brioude (Wednesday, stage 3) and Saint-Vallier (Thursday, stage 4).
Stage 5 on Friday is when things will probably warm up with a stage that ends up La Montagne de Lure for the highest finish the history of this race. The 13.8-kilometre long climb reaching 1,600 metres above sea level will provide a hard test for the climbers, and even more of a test for the non-climbers.
The following day’s penultimate stage to Nice and finishing on the Promenade des Anglais is the longest stage of this years race at 220 kilometres and features two first category climbs in the latter part of the stage, Cote de Cabris and Col du Ferrier. A long 30km or more downhill run to Nice should allow for exciting riding and a chance to catch any early breakaway riders.
The race finishes like last year, with a 9.6-kilometre uphill time trial to Col d’Eze. The road ramps up quickly hitting a section of 8.5 per cent gradient within the first two kilometres. A middle section of 7 per cent, before easing off over the final stretch and the finish line. In total the stage has 469 metres of ascent at an average of 4.6 per cent gradient. It’s enough to provide chance to mix up the final and overall classification.
Defending champion Bradley Wiggins is not riding this year so a chance for another new champion to get his name on the list of honour for one of the most popular and famous stage races in the calendar. A total of 23 teams are in attendance, including recent WorldTour addition Katusha.
Paris-Nice 2013: Stages
Prologue, Sunday March 3, Houilles to Houilles, 2.9km
Stage one, Monday March 4, Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Nemours, 195km
Stage two, Tuesday March 5, Vimory to Cérilly, 200.5km
Stage three, Wednesday March 6, Châtel-Guyon to Brioude, 170.5km
Stage four, Thursday March 7, Brioude to Saint-Vallier, 199.5km
Stage five, Friday March 8, Châteauneuf-du-Pape to La Montagne de Lure, 176km
Stage six, Saturday March 9, Manosque to Nice, 220km
Stage seven, Sunday March 10, Nice to Col d’Èze, 9.6km ITT