The Moment The Race Was Won: Paris-Nice

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Richie Porte rides up the Col d’Eze. If he’d distanced his rivals on the Col de la Croix du Chaubouret midweek, his margin of victory was much greater in Sunday’s Col d’Eze time trial.

With the fantastic four and more heading to Italy this was the chance for a new name to emerge, for a young starlet to shine on the Côte d’Azur. Only we ended up with a repeat winner aged over 30.

The race started with a prologue that had all the ingredients of an ordinary time trial and Michał Kwiatkowski pipped Rohan Dennis by a fraction of a second. Lars Boom was fifth despite having raced the Strade Bianche the day before.

Nothing to watch on TV either

If Paris-Nice is a mini Tour de France this year’s edition resembled a “Jean-Marie Leblanc” Tour from the 1990s with a formulaic triptych of sprint stages. The midweek action was forgettable, hours of expensive live television for a few minutes of priceless action. Viewers were frustrated, ditto riders who spent hours in the saddle for little gain, not the pre-classics conditioning many wanted. ASO gambled on wind to provide the action for the opening stages but Mother Nature didn’t play: perhaps three flat stages was too much? For insurance purposes ideally you’d place an uphill finish tough enough to relegate the sprinters on Stage 2. Easier said than done but if the action doesn’t come, ASO must go to the action.

Still, the sprint finishes were instructive with Alexander Kristoff winning one stage, a mediocre haul after his exceptional start to the season but perfect to lower his profile ahead of Milan-Sanremo. André Greipel and Michael Matthews both won after superb team work. The Australian delivers high quality wins and took the yellow jersey for a day and finished the race with the points jersey. Meanwhile Lotto-Soudal had an even better week with two stage wins plus Thomas de Gendt’s mountains jersey.

French train delays

By contrast the French sprint trains of Arnaud Démare’s FDJ and Nacer Bouhanni’s Cofidis ran out of steam, they were struggling to place their rider in the top-10 by flamme rouge. Démare was inconsistent and co-leader Arthur Vichot not in the same form as last year; at least Thibaut Pinot is delivering in Italy. Chez Cofidis Bouhanni lost his leadout man Geoffroy Soupe but this didn’t stop team manager Yvon Sanquer criticising other riders in public as the pressure seemed to get to the team. Europcar’s Bryan Coquard was valiant without much of a train.

Thursday’s Col de la Croix de Chaubouret was the big uphill test. Richie Porte won, helped thrice by Team Sky’s team tactics. First they set the tempo going up; second Geraint Thomas attacked and Porte could mark the moves before; third Thomas latched onto Porte’s wheel to mop up the time bonus for second place ahead of Kwiatkowski. Tejay van Garderen was thereabouts along with Rui Costa and Fabio Aru while Tony Gallopin was the surprise in the top-10. Gallopin is good and we can project to the Ardennes but probably not any higher altitude mountain stages.

Where were the young riders?
This was supposed to be an opportunity for some in the absence of the “fantastic four”:

  • The best of the young pretenders was Michał Kwiatkowski, still 24, who had a very successful week: a prologue stage win, the yellow jersey for several days and a podium finish. It’d be greedy to ask for more and we should celebrate his willingness to attack on Saturday from afar: risky but it made the race come alive
  • Tim Wellens was second on the young rider competition thanks to his aggression on Saturday, his stock is rising albeit from a mid-market level
  • Fabio Aru dissolved in the rain on Saturday but he’s still easing himself into the season. Vinokourov can hold off from the warning letter for now, plus he’s got more to worry about right now.
  • Wilco Kelderman punctured on Saturday but after 14th place in the prologue he never placed higher all week
  • Romain Bardet was racing on home roads but truth is the course didn’t suit him, his lean limbs like steeper roads rather than big watts needed for Stage 4’s finish and the Col d’Eze. He’s now off to the Sierra Nevada for altitude training and the real test is the Volta a Catalunya
  • The three biggest disappointments were Rafał Majka, Andrew Talansky and Tejay van Garderen. Majka and Talansky both had mechanicals on Stage 4 and might have matched TvG but all three faded by the weekend. Still, it’s only Paris-Nice and all three will surely shine later this year although they’re not yet the certainty we’d hope for

Porte 2.0
The Giro got more interesting now that Richie Porte’s back to winning ways. Things fell apart last year when Porte was rivalling Andy Schleck for “DNS” and “DNF” mentions last spring and the summer brought mediocre results. Now a mountain stage win and a time trial win well for Porte’s chances in the Giro. But we already knew he could win one week stage races: he won Paris-Nice in 2013. Can he win beyond his back yard? The real question is whether he can hold up for three weeks? If he can’t win the Giro then Team Sky will hope he’ll sap Alberto Contador ahead of July.

Simon Says… Very Little
Katusha’s Simon Špilak bagged third place on the podium, bumping out the increasingly reliable Rui Costa by milliseconds thanks to a storming final time trial. It was something to celebrate after he thought he’d won Stage 6, crossing the line with an arm lifted in triumph. The stoic Slovenian is 28 years old and we don’t know much about him. Anecdotally he seems to thrive when the weather is bad but the truth is he’s won on hot day as well, he seems one of those who succeed in week-long stage races, his next goals are the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour de Romandie.

Classics Prep
A share of the field have used the race as training. The good weather until Saturday has been an advantage but the idle opening three stages mean no hard training, a disadvantage. The greatest impact on the classics is likely to be Tom Boonen’s exit. Etixx-Quickstep can count on Niki Terpstra and Zdeněk Štybar but it’s not the same because Boonen brought the menace of a sprint. Take last year’s Paris-Roubaix where Terpstra was able to ride away in part because his rivals knew if they used up energy to reel him in they’d only tow Boonen to the line. Without Boonen Etixx-Quickstep will have to race differently.

The Verdict
Saturday’s stage saved the race from becoming a dismal procession punctuated by intermediate sprints book-ended by time trials. Gallopin’s win was impressive but the ups and downs of Porte and Kwiatkowski multiplied the drama even if it didn’t overturn the overall.

Porte wins the race for a second time. A repetition, a confirmation or a stepping stone to something bigger? He’ll hope for more than his 2013 season, a flourish Nice before resuming the role of luxury lieutenant. As well as a winner we had notable losers, riders who promise much have yet to deliver. Tirreno-Adriatico’s drawing to a close and the next stage race contest will be the Volta a Catalunya. Before that comes Milan-Sanremo. All roads lead to the Via Roma.

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Peter March 15, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Love the French train delay photo. A picture tells a thousand words.
Sky rennaissance underway?

Anonymous March 15, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Paris-Nice was always a good race for Spilak. In the 6 times he rode the race his worst place was 13. in 2011 and only one time he DNFed. Not too bad…

The Inner Ring March 16, 2015 at 6:46 am

Yes, always with results at these kind of races. It’s just hard to see him winning outright.

Ronan March 15, 2015 at 11:37 pm

If porte has shown his strength, he’s also shown a weakness. Gapped on one descent on Saturday then falling on an innocuous turn soon after. It would give hope to many in Italy, given the likelihood of long descents on slippy roads.

Travis March 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

He said in an interview they put way too much pressure in their tires that day. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. He’s not in the league of Sagan, Cadel or Nibali handling the bike but he’s not Wiggins either.

Netserk March 16, 2015 at 12:23 am

Does anyone know what race will be Porte’s next? I’d like to see him do Itzuila again.

Augie March March 16, 2015 at 12:31 am

Volta a Catalunya along with Froome (providing the latter makes it to the start line and then doesn’t crash, never a guarantee as I’m sure you’re well aware).

Netserk March 16, 2015 at 12:44 am

Thanks!

A shame, I really wanted to see him as captain in Itzuila, not as helper for Froome in Catalunya. Kwiatkowski vs. Quintana then.

AK March 16, 2015 at 12:30 am

Saturday saved the day for this race, the rest was not very interesting. It always amazes me how big the time gaps can be on a 20 minute uphill TT.
With all the talk of the ‘fantastic four’, there’s only one of them in the top 4 of the current T-A GC. Hard to say where they would have been in this race. If Mollema would have ridden P-N nobody would have known he’s making Contador eat his dust (snow) at the moment.

Andrew E March 16, 2015 at 1:01 pm

At this stage of the season a lot is still up for grabs. We are not seeing narratives develop yet where certain riders are looking invincible. I was watching Paris-Nice to see who could step up and make a statement. Riders like Kelderman, Aru, Bardet and Tejay VG have been disappointing though. I did pick Porte to win the race but the question for him is not can he win a one week race (he can) but can he make the step up to a grand tour? I’m now looking for him to be on the podium in Italy and push Contador who, at this stage, is not looking bulletproof himself.

gabriele March 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm

As I explained elsewhere, expecting much more from Aru in this race would really be asking for a lot. He hasn’t trained in altitude either.

Augie March March 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Velonews seems to think otherwise.

“…the Sardinian has spent most of the winter training at altitude.”

http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/news/paris-nice-2015-set-climbers-showcase_361653

gabriele March 16, 2015 at 3:15 pm

I wasn’t right (I guess I messed him with Nibali, who’ll start altitude training after the Sanremo… if he’ll actually race there), but so isn’t velonews.
Aru had indeed two weeks of altitude training from February, 16th to March, 2nd.
http://www.olimpiazzurra.com/2015/01/ciclismo-le-tappe-di-avvicinamento-al-giro-ditalia-di-fabio-aru/
Confirmed here:
http://www.cicloweb.it/articolo/2015/02/26/il-debutto-e-aru-usci-dal-lungo-letargo-fabio-sara-alla-parigi-nizza-poche-gare-
I wonder why velonews would write something like that… “most of the winter?”.
Anyway, as a term of comparison I was thinking to the Colombians, more than everything, since I couldn’t recall them racing so much till now. But now that I’ve checked out, they’ve raced way more than Aru, too (even Urán who hasn’t been doing stage races).

gabriele March 16, 2015 at 4:32 pm

I was wrong, but so is velonews (as I wrote in a disappeared reply with links and all).
Aru had a couple of weeks of altitude training at the end of February (“most of the winter”?!?).
I mistaked him for Nibali, who’ll *go up* right after Sanremo.
Anyway, I was thinking about the quite different altitude training of the Colombians, who I thought hadn’t been racing much just like Aru: but I saw that both Urán and Quintana have already raced way more than the Sardinian.

Andrew E March 16, 2015 at 11:06 pm

Regardless of when and where he has trained I still think its a poor excuse. The Ruta del Sol was Froome’s first race of the season. He still won it, beating Contador in the process. To be 39th and 25 minutes down is simply a poor performance.

gabriele March 17, 2015 at 1:21 am

Try to compare him with the other riders in the same race with a similar preparation. I did it a couple of days ago; something will have changed in-between, but that comparison already said much.
Well, I’ll spare you the hard work. Do you know how many riders who were debuting in Pa-Ni beated Aru in the final GC? Zero.
Most well placed riders had raced at least *a couple* of stage races before (7 out of the ten best placed riders in final GC).
37 out of the 38 riders who beated Aru had already raced in a stage race this year. Only one rider had raced before – but not in stage races, that is Simon Yates. 29th placed in final GC.

That kind of statistical correlation isn’t usually associated with “poor excuses”.
Aru’s performance was indeed poor, but if you’ve considered it “disappointing”, as you wrote, well, I can just suggest you not to start betting about cycling.

I’d try to start explaining the effect of racing on preparation and so on, but from the kind of example you cited to make your point I wonder if it would be of any utility.

In fact, comparing Aru with Froome is simply crazy: a 24 years old rider with one of the dominant forces of stage races in the last years!

Besides, to win against Contador with the wide margin of, say, 2″, Froome had to provide a most incredible and totally exceptional single performance (a certain Dr. Ferrari raised his eyebrow calculating a VAM of 2059 m/h and some 6.8 W/Kg, which may not be accurate but gives sort of an idea).
I’m underlying the anomaly for no other purpose but to point out that this kind of unpredictable and unique performance aren’t a good term of comparison to set any kind of expectation.

What’s even more important is that in Andalusia both Contador and Froome were racing for the first time, and no rider in the top five of final GC had raced a single stage race before, which means that in training terms it was a pretty levelled playing field.

gabriele March 16, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Mollema’s success depended on strategy much more than on form. Sure his personal relative form is better than Contador’s, but he could get off essentially because of the tactical impossibility to give a proper chase in the group behind. And he just snapped some 14″, compare that with Quintana…

Anonymous March 16, 2015 at 2:21 am

you really said it best…this was a race for riders with oodles of potential to finally deliver…namely van garderen. i expected for from rohan dennis as well to be honest.

The Inner Ring March 16, 2015 at 6:53 am

Dennis delivered in the prologue. Perhaps after his Hour Record triumph he’s still got a bulkier build. It’ll be interesting to see him in the Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse and whether he gets his climbing legs. He’ll be a useful engine for BMC Racing in the Tour de France’s team time trial.

Alakagom March 16, 2015 at 12:12 pm

BMC and Dennis both reiterated that Dennis was here only for prologue and was running on fumes. Considering his January and Febraury you could not have expected any more from him. Now short rest before getting back into it again for Tour.

Joe K. March 16, 2015 at 4:59 am

Quintana prevailing in the snow on Terminillo!? And Contador not even making the podium!? The T-A is much more interesting than P-N this year for sure.

The Inner Ring March 16, 2015 at 6:48 am

Sure it was a great stage but this piece is about Paris-Nice. Contador’s where he needs to be as prep for the Giro.

Qwerty March 16, 2015 at 7:48 am

I’m interested in Porte’s leadership skills, can be rally his team around him for the Giro?

Easy to follow in the week via TV on smartphone and then go large screen for the weekend action.

Interesting to see both PN and TA engineer their best stages for the weekend.

The Inner Ring March 16, 2015 at 9:49 am

I think Sky can ride to the plan we’d expect but it’s telling Porte is saying he wants to ride the Giro and then do the Tour in service of Chris Froome, he knows his place in the team.

Netserk March 16, 2015 at 10:05 am

It will be interesting to see if he can be fresh enough for the third week of the Giro, not to mention the Tour. If he follows the same plan as last year, he will do Catalunya, Liege and Romandie before the Giro. Surely he will take it easy from now on and until the Giro starts, otherwise I think he’ll end up skipping the Giro again to be ready for the Tour.

Andrew E March 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm

I would hope he doesn’t do Romandie because he needs to balance proper workouts with being fresh for the race. If he is going to be the team leader for the Giro he has to approach it probably setting out his own goals and for his own glory. Of course, being great mates with Froome he will want to be on the team for the Tour as top lieutenant but if he is to make a proper stab at the Giro he has to be more selfish. I, for one, would like to know what Richie Porte is really capable of and Contador is not inspiring bulletproof confidence in me yet that all he has to do is turn up in Italy to win.

Ben March 16, 2015 at 1:32 pm

He’s doing Trentino also, not sure about a Leige cameo

Augie March March 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm

There’s pretty much no point other than team loyalty in Porte doing one day races. His strength is in long grinding climbs and long grinding time trials, preferably with lots of climbs in them. Sky should make Nathan Earle a bigger priority in L-B-L as he was the only one of their riders to finish it last year.

Anonymous March 16, 2015 at 8:04 am

I really want to see Wilco Keldeman shine again, and INRNG you consistently tip him as one to watch for hilly stages, but it looks like he’s just not there at the moment..?

The Inner Ring March 16, 2015 at 9:50 am

No, he was one of the disappointments. There’s likely to be more chances to shine but the mark of a great rider is grabbing chances when they arrive and he and others didn’t fare so well. Of course Paris-Nice will be forgotten if he’s on fire in the summer.

Some more in Dutch on Kelderman’s Paris-Nice but there are few answers http://www.wielerupdate.nl/wielernieuws/30706/

KB March 16, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Kelderman’s winter training was disrupted by a crash and broken collar bone, so that may have had an effect on his performance.

Larry T. March 16, 2015 at 8:29 am

Hope I’m wrong but I see this TvG kid as one who will be “limiting his losses” and waiting (and waiting) for the perfect time to make his move….a move that will never come. BUT all this is “early days” as the Brits like to say. If you’re flying in March what will you be like in July? Do any of these early season races (don’t forget curmudgeons like me don’t consider the race season really underway until MSR) predict future results in Grand Tours?

noel March 16, 2015 at 9:10 am

didn’t Nibali have a similarly low key T-A last year? and that worked out ok…

Netserk March 16, 2015 at 10:10 am

Nibali is the only Tour winner since Sastre who hasn’t had a really great spring the same year they won the Tour. The two Tour winners before that won P-N as well.

If Contador hadn’t crashed, he might have won the Tour (he certainly looked like he was the strongest, though he was a fair bit behind) and he was absolutely flying in the spring.

Augie March March 16, 2015 at 11:06 am

As Netserk said above about Froome and Wiggins. Also Cadel Evans won T-A in 2011 along with Romandie, so it’s Nibali who stands out by under performing all year then bringing it all together come July.

Larry T. March 16, 2015 at 11:37 am

Recent Tour winners listed by year followed by the winner of the same year’s P-N and T-A.
2014 Nibali, Betancur, Contador
2013 Froome, Porte, Nibali
2012 Wiggins, Nibali, Wiggins
2011 Evans, Martin, Evans
2010 Schleck, Contador, Garzelli
2009 Contador, Sanchez, Scarponi
2008 Sastre, Rebellin, Cancellara
2007 Contador, Contador, Kloden.
Someone with more time on their hands could probably work out whether you’d have won or lost money betting on TdF winners using P-N and T-A as your form guide. For me it’s way-too-early to predict what might happen come July.

Augie March March 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm

You’re right, it is too early to predict, because with all the form in the world, as last year’s TDF showed, you have to stay on your bike to win the race (amongst other things).

However that being said your headline method is slightly flawed. To pick one example, in the 2013 T-A Froome won the Queen stage and put 11 seconds into Nibali over the final short TT, however because he lost time on one stage Nibali took the win with Froome in second. None the less you would have got pretty short odds in March that year betting on Froome’s performance in July.

gabriele March 16, 2015 at 1:47 pm

“…however because he lost time on one stage Nibali took the win with Froome in second…”.
It’s called “stage racing” 😉

Just kidding, I agree with what you’re pointing out, even if, generally speaking, I suppose we all agree that these races don’t mean much – if anything at all – July-wise.
Among other things, because individual physiology can vary quite a lot between riders, thus the build-up calendar working for someone may not be the best for someone else.

And, that said, a six-years time span is totally inadequate to come to any conclusion: two years are the result of the same team’s build-up style (and Froome’s form in 2013 Ti-Ad wasn’t comparable to the level shown in the Tour); in 2010 Contador had a good spring but so didn’t Andy who was close, whether we consider him the winner or not, while in 2009 the same Contador in March wasn’t as good since he was still slowly building up; in 2011, Evans won the Tirreno, but he didn’t show great form till the end of April (he won out of his punchy riding, but in Catalunya we saw he wasn’t really up there)… and one out of six years… is “the exception” (Nibali).
I think that most fan are, obviously, way too influenced by recent years (I remember a someway similar debate about Dauphiné).

Andrew E March 16, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I give you a bet Larry: TvG won’t win the Tour! He seems one of those riders destined to make top ten but never make that next step up. He is becoming a perpetual disappointment.

Larry T. March 16, 2015 at 7:46 pm

You’d have to give me some very long odds to put any money on TvG. I just don’t see a lot of character there, the stuff it takes to be a champion…but only time will tell…and as I wrote above, I’d LOVE to be wrong!

Jim March 16, 2015 at 11:49 pm

I have to agree. Of the Americans Talanski (sp?) seems to have the stronger will with as much if not more talent.

BC March 16, 2015 at 8:46 am

Excellent round up of P -N once again Inrng. Not much to add, except to repeat that having two WT races running concurrently, is only going to be good for the sport in the long term – should the competition be allowed to continue by the powers that be.

I noticed the extremely low level of the prize money on offer, not much of an incentive for the lower paid riders.

Anonymous March 16, 2015 at 9:16 am

Is it so low? I really don’t know exactly what prize money is usually paid, but I thought this was normal? In a few years all that will be remembered will be the thrilling saturday and Tony Gallopin’s exploit, but I think all in all it will be another lesson for race organisers, that they have to evolve, too.

Lenny Bernstein March 16, 2015 at 9:43 am

I think the course was a good one, within the confines of running a stage race that broadly runs from to Paris to Nice. It’s just that the weather didn’t play ball. With some crosswinds in the early stages, I’m sure we’d now be saying it was one of the best editions for years. The course is only one factor that makes a great race. The weather, the riders and the time of year all have an impact too. So I wouldn’t blame the organisers alone for the lack of action in the early stages.

Andrew E March 16, 2015 at 1:16 pm

I’m not too sure about the course Lenny. Or maybe its the way the organisers have planned the stages. The first part of the race was so boring I literally switched off. No one wants to see a peloton soft pedaling on purpose for five minutes action at the end. Maybe one day like that on a hot day in July is ok. You can admire the French countryside for an hour or two. But three dull days in March is not nearly as interesting. The ASO need to spice up the race a bit more and make the sprinters work a bit harder for their mad dash at the end. In short, we need a bit more uncertainty.

gabriele March 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm

+1
And the geographic reference is no excuse.

The Inner Ring March 16, 2015 at 9:48 am

The prize list per team is here http://inrng.tumblr.com/post/113697051743/prize-money-per-team-for-the-2015-paris-nice

It is low for most sports but the rewards in cycling from publicity rather than prizes. For the me prize list is a quick way to see who had a good race and who didn’t. There’s also the issue of the money being withheld by the French federation so riders won’t be seeing any of it too soon either.

sket March 16, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Did Cannondale-Garmin send a WT team?! Sheesh!

Othersteve March 17, 2015 at 12:56 am

+1

Anonymous March 16, 2015 at 8:49 am

Well done Lotto-Soudal!!! Although they’ve consistently been animators, they’ve relied on Griepel for pure results, and now they’re showing strength in depth.

J Evans March 16, 2015 at 10:36 am

That 24 out of 30 P-Ns have been decided by this final time trial was trumpeted as a wonderful thing by the commentators. Not so, in my view. The fact that one knows that the rest of the race is unlikely to matter does not lend to excitement. Individual stages were good, but a more balanced parcours would be an improvement.
Would this year’s race have been better with a stage on Sunday of a similar parcours to Saturday’s?

In my opinion, this race also showed that Geraint Thomas should focus his career on the classics – not quite a good enough climber.

On a totally separate topic, does anyone know why international Eurosport gets Carlton K commentating on T-A and British Eurosport gets Declan Q (drivels on saying nothing and so often says what he wants to see rather than what is actually happening; but nowhere near as bad as the clowns Phil L and Paul S, so I’m thankful for small mercies)? Also, what happened – I’ve never discovered – to the guy who used to be (until last year) Eurosport’s main English language commentator?

Noel March 16, 2015 at 10:50 am

I did wander if Declan was watching on some sort of delayed feed – it seems to take him an age to notice when something significant is clearly going on…

J Evans March 16, 2015 at 10:53 am

And bung in a more hilly stage – say stage 2 – and you don’t have to rely on the weather so much.

Leo T March 16, 2015 at 11:42 am

I believe you may be thinking of David Harmon as Eurosports previous No.1 cycling commentator. If I recall correctly, he stopped doing commentating as he was suffering from depression. Here’s an interview from 2013 about him discontinuing the Eurosport gig: http://velovoices.com/2013/04/26/friday-feature-interview-with-eurosports-david-harmon-part-1/

Regarding Quigley, I’d say it’s mostly inexperience. He cut his teeth on Irish TV commentating on Formula 1. I reckon he’s still learning how to recognise riders easily and pick up on stuff.

J Evans March 16, 2015 at 11:58 am

Thanks. Still can’t understand why Eurosport would have two different sets of commentators for a race – I’ve seen them do this before.

Chris March 16, 2015 at 11:54 am

Thomas lost in the time trial, after matching Porte on the MTF in midweek. So how come the conclusion is that he is not a good enough climber?

J Evans March 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Because it was a climbing TT – hence Porte showed his superiority over all the others. I can’t see Thomas ever winning a stage race with a lot of hills, whereas I can see him winning classics. Similarly, I can’t see Porte ever being good enough to win a grand tour.
Just opinions – I might be wrong.
Apologies for going a bit off topic above.

Andrew E March 16, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Why does having a final TT mean that “the rest of the race is unlikely to matter”? I don’t follow the logic.

J Evans March 16, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Because ’24 out of 30 P-Ns have been decided by this final time trial’.

Andrew E March 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm

In my mind the race being decided on the last day is the ideal. Am I wrong? No one knew yesterday who was going to end up in yellow. That’s all any fan asks, surely?

Anonymous March 16, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Surely not me. I want to see it decided man against man, team against team, tactic against tactic, not against the clock!

Cam March 16, 2015 at 10:58 am

Great reporting and previews for Paris-Nice,
In other news I think Cummings deserves a mention for his performance in Tirreno Adriatico… Top 10 in a UCI 2.2 race would be a great result, and hints at a playing field more level than at any other stage in his career…

Chris March 16, 2015 at 11:53 am

eagerly waiting for an article about what was learned from the Terminello climb… Quintana vs. Contador, Mollema’s resillience, Nibali’s doubts etc

GTGTGT March 16, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Am I the only one sitting here thinking maybe TvG disappointed us be he’s umm, I don’t know, over-rated?!

Shawn March 16, 2015 at 1:00 pm

For someone who has come in top-5 in Le TdF and who has shone an ability to time-trial uphill (think Vail, CO), you would expect him to be challenging for top-5 in P-N. He seems to have suffered more than some others in the rain and cold. I’m not sure that’s a sign of being over-rated but it is a problem this time of year.

Andrew E March 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm

I think TvG has found his level. I’m not expecting him to win grand tours. If he is going to then he should be knocking off races like this by now.

Anonymous March 17, 2015 at 7:03 am

He’s 26 – you peak at 28, froome didnt win a Tour until he was 28…the previous two tour winners were over 30.

Give him to 28 before you write him off.

Anonymous March 18, 2015 at 12:16 am

sure, but hes not the only one in this category of young and potential tour winners. hes not the youngest think of quintana, aru, majka, and so on) and probably also not the most promising of them. still you never know.

Paul Gorman March 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm

It’s like George Hincapie in the Classics all over again. English-speaking rider does well in one high-profile race and the English-speaking media* hype him for the rest of his career. Tyler Farrar as well. Both, I’m sure, are lovely guys but the hype lavished on them is out of all proportion to their palmares.

*well, Paul Sherwen at any rate

RizzaNZ March 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Doesn’t look like the rainbow stripe curse has struck this year. Nice start for Kwiatkowski.

Shawn March 16, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Although, he wasn’t wearing the rainbow-jersey during his prologue win 😉

Netserk March 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm

He did do quite well on the only stage where he was wearing the stripes.

M ark March 16, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Nice shot of the Tasmanian national flag on Porte’s upper arm in the headline pic.

Philip March 17, 2015 at 2:09 am

To be a pendant, Tasmanian ‘state’ flag. Unless it has quietly seceded overnight. 😉
There was also the map of Tasmania on the inside right forearm of his skin suit as Matt Keenan on SBS TV pointed out during Porte’s ride.

Philip March 17, 2015 at 2:11 am

… which can be seen in the mirrored lens of Porte’s helmet visor in the headline pic.

KB March 16, 2015 at 5:20 pm

“The midweek action was forgettable, hours of expensive live television for a few minutes of priceless action.”

This sin was only compounded by the scheduled late start to coverage on Saturday (90 min later than the weekday snoozers) – it was clear from twitter and various other sources that the race was animated and dynamic from the start, and we couldn’t see any of it! Sure, coverage started with 60 km to go, and we got to see plenty of great racing, but we could of and should have had more – when will organizers / rightsholders / broadcasters figure this out!?

Was really hoping Kwiatek would be rewarded for his attacking and risk-taking (top-tube pedaling the wet descents!?), alas amid the frenzied racing, he said he’d forgotten to eat and drink sufficiently.

Anonymous March 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

+1 about the tv coverage.

PKP March 16, 2015 at 8:15 pm

just thinking aloud here, about Portes role at the TDF. Given he is targeting the Giro, and therefore his preparation for TDF may not be ideal, would sky be better using him as an attacking joker in July? With their winter recruitment I’d have thought they have others who could form the sky mountain train and be super domestiques to Froome. He would represent a dangerous man for the other teams to keep an eye on, and might take the sting out of some of the other contenders. Would also make an interesting change to the normal sky tactics.

I’m not sure Porte has a GT win in him (Giro might tell us more) but would certainly be able to animate the race

Anonymous March 16, 2015 at 8:21 pm

No dismal procession for me, always loved PN and long may it continue. However, it did lack some young talent showing their noses.

dubtap March 16, 2015 at 11:45 pm

2014 Richie isn’t sneaking off turning off his SRM and doing huge amounts of riding when he’s supposed to be resting.

dubtap March 16, 2015 at 11:46 pm

Or even 2015 🙂

Rowan March 17, 2015 at 7:05 am

To be fair, he’s only just turned 30 🙂

The Inner Ring March 17, 2015 at 8:28 am

I know but he’s not the young prospect incarnated by Kelderman, Bardet etc, he’s a repeat winner of the race.

noel March 17, 2015 at 9:12 am

I imagine OGE will have to include Bling in their TdF squad this year. You have to admire their ability to spot opportunities and deliver him to plan, and then his ability to finish things off with aplomb. He looks better placed than most to challenge Sagan for the green jersey this year, and they wouldn’t be tied up with any GC ambitions (unlike Saxo…)

The Inner Ring March 17, 2015 at 9:21 am

There are some uphill sprints in the first week for him. For green we’ll have to see because the points scale is being changed, it’s meant to suit the fastest sprinter, presumably repeated stage wins will bring the jersey rather than placing regularly.

J Evans March 17, 2015 at 10:49 am

And what a shame that is: I’d rather see the green jersey remain a sign of consistency.
Ideally, they’d have another jersey for sprinters, but that would take them over the preposterous four jersey rule.
The idea of changing the rules because one rider is dominant (or because Cavendish hadn’t won it as Prudhomme said a couple of years ago) is as ridiculous as it is unfair.

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