Paris-Nice will not feature an individual time trial or a summit finish when it returns for its 72nd edition this year, with Team Sky bidding for a third consecutive victory.
In a big reshuffle announced by organisers ASO, this year’s ‘Race to the Sun’ will be the first since 1955 not to feature a time trial, and with a total distance of 1447km, will be one of the longest ever.
Billed by organisers as a ‘race for the daring’, it is hoped the reshuffle will open up the general classification as Richie Porte returns to defend the yellow jersey he won last year.
Porte’s victory was sealed with a triumphant performance on the time-honoured Col d’Eze time trial.
However this year’s route will, according to organisers, ‘offer the most enterprising riders some previously unseen opportunities’.
Starting in Yvelines for the fifth consecutive year, the route features eight stages designed as one-day Classics with organisers opting for ‘steep, rough climbs’ as opposed to long ascents likely to cause decisive ‘selections’.
One such climb is the leg-sapping Mount Brouilly, which features ramps of 25 per cent in parts and likely to be the key features of the 201.5km fourth stage.
An undulating route also awaits on stage six, while the final stage into Nice again includes the Col d’Eze: one of five major climbs the peloton will tackle in a 50km period before the pacey descent into Nice.
Although team squads are still to be finalised, it was revealed that Richie Porte (Team Sky) will return to defend his title, with German sprinter, John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), and BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen, also due on the start line.
Paris-Nice 2014 route
Sunday March 9: Mantes-la-Jolie to Mantes-la-Jolie – 162.5km
Monday March 10: Rambouillet to St.George-sur-Baulche – 205km
Tuesday March 11: Toucy to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours – 180km
Wednesday March 12: Nevers to Belleville – 201.5km
Thursday March 13: Creches-sur-Saone to Rive-de-Gier – 152.5km
Friday March 14: St.Saturnin-les-Avignon to Fayence – 221.5km
Saturday March 15: Mougins to Biot Sofia Antipolis – 195.5km
Sunday March 16: Nice to Nice – 128km