The Spin: Paris-Nice Stage 4

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Paris-Nice Stage 4

We’re halfway. The race is maturing and the profile for Stage 4 has more red dots than a teenager with acne.

But the race is far from decided. If Andrew Talansky is the new leader, his advantage on the others is slim and his Garmin-Sharp team will have to work hard to keep him in yellow. A long stage with plenty of climbing awaits and if you get déjà vu later, don’t worry, as the explanation is below.

  • km 11.5 – Côte de Lachaud, 4.8km at 5.6% – Cat 2
  • km 27.5 – Côte de Condat, 6.9km at 4.4% – Cat 2
  • km 87.5 – Côte de la Chomasse, 3.4km at 5.1% – Cat 3
  • km 105.5 – Côte de Laprat, 2.1km at 3.8% – Cat 3
  • km 136.0 – Col du Rouvey, 2.8km at 5.6% – Cat 3
  • km 176.5 – Côte de Talencieux, 2.9km at 8.1% – Cat 2
  • km 191.0 – Côte de la Sizeranne, 2.9km at 6.6% – Cat 2

The Route: uphill straight away means a fast start and today looks like breakaway day but it’s all about the composition of a move and who will be let go. By now many teams will want to send a rider up the road so if they miss out they might chase or send riders across. This could keep up across the high plateau and the first intermediate sprint at La Chaise-Dieu (trivia: it translates as “The Seat of God” but actually Chaise comes from casa or house, after an abbey). Overall if it’s up and down and with plenty of mountains points available, note the average gradients, there is nothing too serious here and only the Côte de Talencieux gives the climbers an advantage.

The Finish: if you have pachydermal powers of recall then you’ll remember Saint Vallier and the Côte de la Sizeranne featured in the finale of last summer’s Dauphiné on Stage 1 when first Andy Schleck was dropped on the climb and later, just after the descent finished, Jérôme Coppel attacked and was quickly followed by Cadel Evans and Andrey Kashechkin. The trio stayed away and with the Australian won the stage (video clip).

Once again the route is the same and as mentioned in the stage preview last June the stats supplied don’t match the reality of the climb: it’s listed as 6.6% for 2.9km but steeper than the average suggests, kicking up at 7-8% for the first kilometre, then a tiny dip, before rising up again at more than 7%.

The descent is tricky – again in the Dauphiné several riders messed up the corners – and the finish comes up quickly. The final straight is 500m long and flat.

The Scenario: the overall classification – listed at the bottom of this page – has 28 riders within 26 seconds of Talansky meaning it’s going to be hard for his team to control things, especially with the time bonuses at the finish. Many will want to be in the early breakaway but who will make it? It looks like some riders who have lost time might get an exit visa from the peloton, think of Thomas de Gendt and Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM), Jérémy Roy and Alex Geniez (FDJ), Martin Elmiger (IAM) as examples of riders who could slip away.

But if it comes back to a sprint note the final climb can dump some riders but Tony Gallopin (Radioshack), J-J Rojas (Movistar) and Jonathan Hivert (Sojasun) are riding well. Also it’ll be interesting to see what Philippe Gilbert does, it’s a day for him but he’s been playing loyal domestique for Tejay van Garderen.

Andrew who? Apparently some journos were asking who’s Andrew Talansky but remember he won the mountainous Tour de l’Ain last August before finishing seventh in the Vuelta after some consistent riding every day. He was also second in the Tour de Romandie, 12 seconds behind Bradley Wiggins. The 24 year old could be familiar to readers here as he’s on my list of 12 riders to watch this year.

Talansky made the move with Romain Bardet, the local rider. They’re no strangers as back in 2010 they were fighting in the franco-Italian Tour des Pays de Savoie with Talansky winning a stage ahead of Bardet and also Bart de Clerq, a rider 13th overall in Paris-Nice.

Weather: rain clearing and a top temperature of 13°C (55°F) but much cooler at altitude over the Col du Rouvey. In addition the southerly wind is back, it will pick up during the stage to blow at 20km/h from the south-east by the finish in the often windier Rhone valley.

TV: Live video from 2.55 – 4.10pm Euro time on French TV and Eurosport and, rum at the ready, cyclingfans.com or steephill.tv have the online co-ordinates for buried pirate video.

Also on a technical point note the weather was so bad yesterday that the helicopters could not fly. But no problem with the images because the production company used a plane flying in circles high above the race as a relay station for the moto cameras. The broadcast also survived a strike on Tuesday but French TV staff decided to cover Paris-Nice for the “continuity of sport”. Merci to the pilots and others who bring us these images.

Eat: the race passes near Le Puy en Velay which is famous – in culinary circles – for its black lentils which grow in the dark volcanic soils. Supposedly they taste better but they’re also iron rich and a good addition to the cyclist’s diet.

Paris Nice overall classification

Ankush March 7, 2013 at 7:50 am

Today’s stage could have been good for the Euskis but they are having a terrible time in the rain. I hope Gorka can hang on to top 10 in GC.

It will be interesting to see Sky’s strategy as they were handed out a lesson by The Pitbull yesterday. They will definitely drive the pace on hills to soften the GC contenders. Interesting stage where I think Gilbert will shine.

The Inner Ring March 7, 2013 at 10:21 am

Yes, only Euskaltel and Vacansoleil-DCM without a win so far this year in the 19 World Tour teams.

Jason March 7, 2013 at 7:56 am

The big loser yesterday was Gesink.. Will Blanco try something today?

The Inner Ring March 7, 2013 at 8:55 am

I think he’s a good candidate for tomorrow’s stage win on the Montagne de Lure. Having lost time now some of the others won’t mind him riding away on the climb for the stage win. Today’s finish has a tricky descent and with his run of luck he needs to take care.

John S March 7, 2013 at 8:32 am

I will be watching Ritchie PORTE (SKY) closely on this stage, just 7s back with good climbing ability (2 nd on the summit finish on last years Vuelta stage 20 to Bola del Mundo) but also strong enough to push on with a late break (or perhaps send Tiernan-Locke to attack on final climb and sit back …) or attack on the final descent (4th in Australian national TT championships in Jan this year)

The Inner Ring March 7, 2013 at 10:23 am

Yes, he’s riding well and Sky set the pace to make things happen yesterday. But I think today we might see the overall contenders sit back and wait for tomorrow’s summit showdown although that’s never certain as Paris-Nice is an aggressive race.

tonyrone March 7, 2013 at 9:20 am

I have to say with a name like that Andrew TalanSKY he should be riding for teamsky and yesterday his ride was of no surprise to me as he was one of my first picks in the cyclingfever.com competition for this year…. ..more importantly I believe he has now booked his birth onto the podium come sunday.

SprocketDoc March 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

Has Talansky got much form on uphill ITT’s?
Have to say I was impressed with TeamSky’s aggressive/opportunistic ride yesterday although I’m not sure they got full value for their efforts. Thought David Lopez had a cracking ride and nice to see JTL on the front for a while.

Anonymous March 7, 2013 at 11:06 am

Talansky in post race interview was licking his licks at the prospect of the Col d’Eze saying it should suit and that he was looking forward to it.

The Inner Ring March 7, 2013 at 11:10 am

Yes, he was second to Wiggins in the Tour de Romandie mountain time trial last year when they rode up to the Crans Montana ski station and Wiggins only beat him by one second although the Briton dropped his chain and had to slow at one point.
http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/11742/Bradley-Wiggins-climbs-to-overall-Romandie-victory-in-Crans-Montana-time-trial.aspx

Sam March 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Wiggins had to do more than slow down – he had to stop altogether and get off the bike, whilst a Sky mechanic jumped out of the car following to help. Wiggins lost at least 15 secs. However, that’s not to knock Talansky who rode a terrific TT.

Espresso March 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

Thanks for these previews, this one is excellent work.

Dai Bank March 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Great first line, haven’t read anything else yet as I have just cleaned my desk and keyboard having spat out my lunch laughing so much

Anonymous March 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Agree, my morning coffee barely stayed in my mouth!!

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