Get out the stopwatches!
The 2015 Paris-Nice, scheduled for March 8th-15th, has a familiar theme this year with the return of a prologue in the Yvelines Department, then a final time trial on the col d’Èze to add to the suspense. Yet it is a new mountain top finish at the Col de la Croix de Chaubouret (1201 m) that could be the decider.
At this time of year all roads lead to Nice. But the detours or shortcuts taken to get there could radically affect the outcome along the way. Of course, the route profile also provides clues to the type of rider likely to compete for victory on one of the most prominent early-season races. Stamped with "tradition", the 2015 Paris Nice features the return of the time trials and shortens just a bit the list of potential winners among the most complete riders in the peloton. First off, the riders aiming for the overall victory will have to finish among the leaders on the technically challenging Maurepas prologue; the likely winner will also have to rely on a solid and prudent team to protect him on the three stages that follow. In Sologne, on the route to Contres, in the Cher plains heading to Saint-Amand-Montrond, or while crossing the Allier Department on the way to Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, headwinds could split the peloton.
Above all, to be among the handful of leaders still in contention on Thursday night, the best prepared climbers will have the advantage on the unprecedented arrival at the Col de la Croix de Chaubouret. In the past, the Paris-Nice podium was often decided on the Mont Faron, or the col de la République; and more recently on the Lure Mountain, in Mende or at Mont Serein. This time the leaders will battle on the hills above Saint-Etienne. The final 10km climb (at an average 6.7% gradient) will separate the best from the rest at the end of the longest stage of the week (204km). Ambitions of the vengeful will have to be controlled on the final stage of the race, potentially nervous just until the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais on Saturday afternoon. Finally, the gaps could be just a handful of seconds in an exercise that is as traditional as it is merciless: the individual time-trial on the col d’Èze. The 2015 Paris-Nice stages . 8/03. Prologue: Maurepas – Maurepas, 6.7 km . 9/03. Stage 1: Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse – Contres, 192 km . 10/03. Stage 2: ZooParc of Beauval Saint-Aignan – Saint-Amand-Montrond, 172 km . 11/03. Stage 3: Saint-Amand-Montrond – Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, 179 km . 12/03. Stage 4: Varennes-sur-Allier – Croix de Chaubouret, 204 km . 13/03. Stage 5: Saint-Étienne – Rasteau, 192 km . 14/03. Stage 6: Vence – Nice, 181,5 km . 15/03. Stage 7: Nice – Col d’Èze, 9.6 km (individual time-trial) 20 teams, the probable leaders: AustraliaOrica-GreenEdge: Matthews, S.Yates (Aus) Belgium Lotto Soudal: Gallopin (Fra), Greipel (Ger) Etixx – Quick Step: Boonen (Bel), T.Martin (Ger) Spain Movistar Team: Gadret (Fra) United States BMC Racing Team: Gilbert (Bel), Van Garderen (Usa) Team Cannondale – Garmin: Talansky (Usa) Trek Factory Racing: Jungels, F.Schleck (Lux) France AG2R La Mondiale: Bardet, Péraud (Fra), Bakelants (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Bouhanni (Fra), Navarro (Esp) FDJ: Démare, Vichot (Fra) Team Europcar: Coquard, Rolland, Voeckler (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement: Fédrigo (Fra), Sepulveda (Arg) Great Britain Team Sky: Thomas, Wiggins (Gbr), Porte (Aus), Roche (Irl) Italy Lampre-Merida: Costa (Por) Kazakhstan Astana Pro Team: Aru (Ita), LL.Sanchez (Esp)
Netherlands Team Giant – Alpecin: Barguil (Fra), Degenkolb (Ger) Team Lotto NL – Jumbo: Kelderman, Hofland (Ned) Russia Team Katusha: Kristoff (Nor) Tinkoff-Saxo: Majka (Pol) Switzerland IAM Cycling (IAM): Sy.Chavanel (Fra), Frank (Sui)
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