Paris-Nice 2018 Route

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Paris Nice 2018 poster

The route for the 2018 edition of Paris-Nice is out and the race is the first of the major stage races and has been thrilling in recent years. Here’s a quick look at what to expect from the route.

Stage 1 doesn’t start in Paris but it’s as close as the race has got and features many of the suburban training roads used by Parisian cyclists before an uphill finish with 1.5km at 6% to the old observatory in Meudon, just outside Paris.

Stages 2 and 3 are promised to the sprinters, they are flat and near featureless as the race borrows the Loire valley to make good progress south. These two stages are dependent on the weather: if the wind is up it’ll be classic conditions; if it’s still then even the wildcard invitees will think twice about attacking and you should probably tune in for the final minutes.

Stage 4 is an 18.4km time trial outside the industrial city of Saint-Etienne and features an uphill start. It’s a course reminiscent of the 23km stage used in the Dauphin√© last year. The first eight kilometres are uphill but it’s 3-4% on a grinding rural road that suits powerful riders rather than the mountain goats.

Stage 5 sees the race visit old haunts with a route between Salon-de-Provence and Sisteron and is likely to be for the sprinters… because there’s no profile available at the moment.

Stage 6 has a lively, hilly route to Vence and the profile has so many red polka dots it looks like it has got measles. There’s plenty of climbing but also descending with some twisty roads to the finish likely to be two races for the price of one with a breakaway and a scrap among the GC contenders before an uphill finish in Vence.

Stage 7¬† sees the race leave Nice and make its way up the Var valley taking some shortcuts by climbing out of the valley and over the hills. It’s still 160km approach to the main test of the day.

This is the “new” climb to the ski station of La Colmiane, better known to locals as the Col de Saint Martin. The scenic road is novel as this has not been climbed before but last year it was descended just prior to the Col de la Couillole summit finish won by Richie Porte. It’s a long climb at 16km – long for March – but not steep with a 6% average and alternating sections of 5% and 7% and just enough bite towards the top to make it selective but it’s a climb where a group of riders can still work efficiently together rather than everyone for themselves.

Stage 8 is the classic Nice hinterland rollercoaster. It’s reworked with twist to the finish as they drop into Nice off the Col d’Eze as before but then climb back up part of the Col d’Eze to the Col des Quatre Chemins before taking the Col d’Eze descent usually climbed in the time trial back down to nice, a steeper and faster run to the line, the finish line is 9km away where previous editions had a longer drop down into Nice that allowed more chasing. The hope is to have even more lively racing but perhaps it is also logistical as a means to keep the race from choking the Promenade des Anglais seafront too.

The Verdict
An opening three stages with something for the classics specialists and sprinters and the balance depends on the weather; central France in March is more likely to be cold and damp rather than stormy. A good route without an obvious point to win the race, the climb to La Colmiane is the big summit finish but it’s not steep and should see a handful of riders come into the final weekend all within a few seconds of each other and the final stage is more tricky than ever as long as someone is prepared to exploit the route.

The Contenders
There’s no startlist, let alone form to go on. Alberto Contador has retired and the race could well miss his role as a catalyst to get the action going, such as his attack with 50km to go on the final stage that almost brought him the win. In the absence of an obvious set piece stage to define the winner it’s an open course. Christian Prudhomme cited several names due to ride and among them Julian Alaphilippe is a prospect given he won the time trial stage last year and the gentler slopes to La Colmiane could suit him. Dan Martin is due to return but the time trial won’t help him, the same for Esteban Chaves.

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Ecky Thump January 9, 2018 at 2:24 pm

An early season warm-up for Dumoulin v Sky perhaps?
Is it a course that a rider like Dumoulin could thrive on?

The Inner Ring January 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm

The course would suit with the TT and the long steady climb (and his team could be tested on the final weekend) but his approach has been different in the past, eg he targeted the Giro and was well off the pace in Tirreno-Adriatico last year. It’s also suitable for the likes of Oomen and Kelderman.

Ecky Thump January 9, 2018 at 6:25 pm

Hmm wise words, maybe on second thoughts Dumoulin may give it a miss; I recall your points after the last two editions about GC contenders being beaten by Sky (super) domestiques.
It would surely feel like a confidence blow if that were to happen to him and his team.
I wonder who’ll lead Sky though, there’s Strade Bianche the day before?

Rob81 January 10, 2018 at 9:14 am

Sunweb has already announced that Oomen will be their leader in Paris-Nice and Dumoulin will ride Tirreno-Adriatico.

Anon January 9, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Is it farfetched to think that Grand Tour contenders put less priority to these one week stage races?

The Inner Ring January 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Some put big store in it, eg Froome and Porte in recent years.

Gazelle CM January 10, 2018 at 9:31 am

Will Prudhomme receive Froome, while as yet no decision has been made?

RonDe January 9, 2018 at 7:51 pm

I imagine Porte will win this pretty easily. I can’t see anyone entering he should worry about. Hopefully, he does founder in the early days as he did last year.

RonDe January 9, 2018 at 7:52 pm

Doesn’t!

Andre January 10, 2018 at 1:03 pm

… I always wonder… why is it so difficult to upload high-resolution maps. Giro, tour etc. you have always to search for better ways to view the maps and stages.

The Inner Ring January 12, 2018 at 8:37 am

This varies a lot, ASO tried some interactive maps where you could zoom in and this was really useful but it’s stopped and we get the low res ones. The teams get a pack of mapping files so they can follow the exact route for planning/recon but this would be good for the general public whether people living on the route or fans planning a visit.

AP January 11, 2018 at 5:21 pm

If the race matches the art-work it should be good.

maximflyer January 11, 2018 at 9:02 pm

@Inrng
This year’s poster looks amazing! Do you happen to know who designed it?

The Inner Ring January 12, 2018 at 8:35 am

I can’t see a credit for the artwork.

kasoli January 13, 2018 at 10:59 am

Agreed – very stylish!

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