Paris-Nice Stage 8 Preview

Sunday, 11 March 2018

110km and it’s all up and down on twisting roads with time bonuses on offer and the overall classification still to play for.

Stage 7 Wrap: a stage win and the yellow jersey for Simon Yates. If the stage win was convincing, Yates’ grip on the race lead doesn’t look as certain with the Izagirre brothers and Tim Wellens within a few seconds of him. He’ll be delighted with the win, he took a stage last year thanks to an opportunistic attack and this time he rode everyone off his wheel, first attacking the lead group and then shaking of Ion Izagirre who was clamped to his backwheel. It was a hard day in the grim conditions. Luis León Sánchez cracked which was half-expected on a long summit finish but he took his team with him; Julian Alaphilippe exploded. If you were watching when Alessandro De Marchi crashed into a ravine, he got up and rode to the finish.

The Route: 110km over familiar roads. The once-traditional Col d’Eze time trial conclusion to Paris-Nice has been replaced by a dash into the hills behind Nice. They leave Nice for a long neutral procession up the Var valley, a handy warm-up and then there’s hardly bit of flat road all stage. It’s all on the typical snaking roads of the region which constantly twist and turn their way up valleys and gorges.

With 55km to go the race climbs out of the Paillon valley for the climb to Peille, the Col de St Pancrace to locals and this is the hardest climb of the day. It’s listed as 6.6km at 6.8%, so worthy of a small Alpine pass on these stats alone but it’s the irregularity that makes it hard work with early sections of 9% and even 12% as it winds up a narrow road with so many bends that a rider need only get 50 metres’ lead to be out of sight. It levels out further up and once over the top comes a twisting descent to La Turbie and Eze with the short rise to the Col and then it’s down the Moyenne Corniche to the coast before climbing the Col d’Eze again but not all the way, it’s 5.5km at 5.5% but with a steep start of 7-8% for the first two kilometres. Over the top they repeat the Moyenne Corniche descent.

The Finish: a flat finish line and before that the run off the Corniche and the small rise around the 1km to go point.

The Contenders: we’ve got used to Alberto Contador shredding the race on this final stage but without him who will try? Certainly the Izagirre brothers and Tim Wellens have a chance to win the race sitting at 11, 12 and 13 seconds down on GC but how to shake Simon Yates? Leaving it to the last climb is theoretically enough given the small time gaps and the time bonuses but they’d need to have Yates on the ropes by then and who else will sap him, especially as Yates can count on Esteban Chaves and Roman Kreuziger for climbing support. Simon Yates is in a strong position, he was the best yesterday and can mark his rivals as they try to unpick him today and should they exhaust themselves the stage is his.

The Izagirres can play the old 1-2 and their Bahrain-Merida team looks strong enough to offer support to get them into the final of this stage.

Tim Wellens is a pick for the stage because he’s won here before and is packing a good sprint. Julian Alaphilippe can get a consolation stage win, he’s been trying all week for GC. If he cracked yesterday he’s likely to bounce back the series of sharp climbs and a sprint suits him.

Simon Yates
Alaphilippe, Wellens, Izagirre²

Weather: damp and possibly stormy along the way, a top temperature of 11°C and the wind could get up in places.

TV: You should find it on the same channel as you watch the Tour de France. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams. The finish is forecast for 2.50pm CET.

Joe K. March 11, 2018 at 8:23 am

Many top form contenders so probably the time trial will determine the overall winner of P-N. Am watching and enjoying both the P-N and the T-A, but must admit enjoying this year’s T-A a bit more!

Scott W March 12, 2018 at 2:18 pm

+1 for the T-A Stage 2 city circuit & sprint finish in Folloinca — what a race!

Anonymous March 11, 2018 at 9:12 am

Yates should, I say should, have this in the bag. A great finale for the final stage although I somewhat miss the Col d’Eze final tt, memories of past great champions!

Stuie March 11, 2018 at 9:16 am

What a stage this could be. Alaphillipe will go early. And Sky could really open the race up if Henao is feeling OK. I want Yates to win it, but I honestly believe he will crack.

JT March 11, 2018 at 9:20 am

It is rare to say this but Astana got their tactics all wrong ! When Sanchez couldn’t follow, it was over for him so why bring Fulsang back ? He could have won the stage and would have been in the top 10. Now nothing.
As for Alaphillipe… it was great watching him giving everything with 2 km to go but this not a one day race. He should have sat up and gone at his own rhythm. He would have lost much less time and with today suiting him, he would have been able to get a better GC position.

Rupert March 11, 2018 at 9:45 am

Agree, Fulsang must have lost loads of time going back, didn’t see when he gave up on LLS but think he finished only a Minute down on Yates. Could he have stayed with him ….. we’ll never know

RedHat March 11, 2018 at 10:59 am

Fuglsang lost 48sec – he said in an interview afterwards that he felt he could have been in the mix had he not dropped back. I think he is a contender for today given that he will not be marked too closely

Anonymous March 11, 2018 at 10:13 am

Wow both the Yates twins – here and in T-A – have seriously upped their game. Riding with intent and maturity.

Anonymous March 11, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Love a race finishing with a few sums to work out the winner…great stuff, the beauty of one week races.

Kit March 11, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Is Simon Yates still on a rolling TUE?

Cinjet March 11, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Maybe Fancy Bear can help you answer that question.

AP March 11, 2018 at 11:35 pm

It’s fascinating that ‘media’ don’t seem much interested in this.

Imagine what it’d be like if he we was riding for Sk … oh sod it you get my drift.

Cam H March 11, 2018 at 4:10 pm

The last stage of Paris Nice is always one of the best days of racing in the season. One of my favs at least. Today didn’t disappoint.

Justin March 12, 2018 at 2:18 am

+1 Very wet slippery conditions but handled well by the riders. I tensed up everytime they went into a corner only to see yet another menacing wet grate on the racing line!

who March 11, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Not the best of days for the Dutch. Poels and Kelderman fallen and broken collarbones, Dumoulin sick, mechanics, fallen. Normally they would have won of course as well P-N, T.A and Abu Dabi.

who March 13, 2018 at 4:25 pm

I forgot to add: (or not).

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