Race to the Sun
Race to the Sun
Paris-Nice will mark the return of the 2015 UCI WorldTour when the peloton rolls out on Sunday (March 8) and preparations for the Classic campaign and Grand Tour season step up a notch.
The eight-stage French race and the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy, held largely at the same time, will see the top names in cycling come to the fore as they look to hone form for the spring and summer to come.
Paris-Nice, so often seen as the perfect early-season form builder for the Tour de France thanks to its ‘mini-Tour’ parcours, returns to type this year after an undulating and unpredictable route last season.
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) triumphed on that occasion, beating world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) after Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) suffered an ill-timed crash when looking good for the maillot jaune.
This year, however, a balanced route is book-ended by time trials, as has been tradition, starting with a 6.7km prologue where Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) will be the favourites to pull on the yellow jersey, and ending with the return of the pivotal final uphill test against the clock on the Col d’Eze, which is likely to determine the overall winner.
Three relatively follow, before the climbing starts on stage four on a relentless day which includes eight ascents in all, finishing with the category one Croix de Chaubouret (10km at 6.7 per cent). Stage five features the 12.2km Col de la Republique but is a more relaxed affair, while stage six, from Vence to Nice, includes three category one ascents and three category two ascents – all at least 5km long – on the route before a rapid downhill into Nice.
The Col d’Eze rounds things off and the last time the race finished with a time trial on the climb in 2013 Richie Porte (Team Sky) triumphed. The Australian – and team-mate Thomas – will start among the favourites this year.
Who else could win the 73rd Race to the Sun? Here are eight riders who could be crowned champion in Nice come Sunday March 15.