Paris-Nice Route

Paris-Nice Route 2015

ASO have announced the route for the Paris-Nice. After last year’s hilly route without time trials the 2015 race looks traditional with an opening prologue, a “summit finish” and the conclusive Col d’Eze time trial.

Prologue 6.7km Maurepas > Maurepas
Stage 1 192km Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse > Contres
Stage 2 172km ZooParc de Beauval > Saint-Amand-Montrond
Stage 3 179km Saint-Amand-Montrond > Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule
Stage 4 204km Varennes-sur-Allier > Croix de Chaubouret
Stage 5 192km Saint-Étienne > Rasteau
Stage 6 181.5km Vence > Nice
Stage 7 9.6km Nice > Col d’Eze

As usual it doesn’t start in Paris but the Yveslines area to the west is the next best thing and a Mecca for Parisian cyclists who flee the capital for some sharp climbs and peaceful woodland roads. At 6.7km the prologue is long enough to put some gaps in the GC.

Stages 1, 2 and 3 offer sprint finishes given the flat profiles but as ever the crosswinds can play their part. You should remember the name of St Amand Montrond from the 2013 Tour de France as it rhymes with Mark Cavendish’s stage win on the day the race was split apart by Belkin and OPQS in the crosswinds. The exposed terrain and March weather only makes this more likely. Stages 2 and 3 end with finishing loops, crossing the finish line before heading back out, a means to give the waiting crowds more of a show.

Stage 4 on Thursday 12 March will change the race with the “summit finish” on the Col de la Croix de Chaubouret, better known to locals as Le Bessat, a ski area on the flanks of Mont Pilat above the industrial city of St Etienne. Just getting to the start of the climb isn’t easy as the longest stage of the week features a succession of climbs. The Col de la Croix de Chaubouret is tackled from St Chamond and is described as an “unprecedented arrival” which is true but the climb has been used before, notably in 2011 when it featured mid-stage in Paris-Nice. It’s a hard climb and long too, the race says 10km at 6.7% but it starts rising before. But it’s nothing wild, the kind of slope that can see a team control the race with a high tempo.

Stage 5 is a “transition stage” which might sound like a nice way to cross the landscape but instead it makes for a day when half the peloton thinks it’s in with a chance of winning so expect a lively day and a strong breakaway into Rasteau, famous for its wines.

Stage 6 sees the race reach Nice after an inland loop with many climbs familiar to Paris-Nice and a share of the peloton who live in the area. It’s always hard to control the race on terrain like this, a test of team tactics.

Col d'Eze

Stage 7 is the classic Col d’Eze time trial, an awkward exercise in pacing, especially the final kilometre where the strongest can pick up the pace. In recent years it’s not been decisive to the race.

Route Summary: after last year’s experimentation, this is more of a classic route with set piece stages like a summit finish and the final TT on the Col d’Eze.

The Favourites: given the route change last year’s podium looks unlikely if not impossible given past winner Carlos Betancur will be doing Tirreno-Adriatico. Most of the big names are going to Tirreno-Adriatico lending Paris-Nice the look of a B-list party yet the race always seems to provide action. The startlist isn’t known yet but as ever have a good provisional selection and it’s better to wait for the Vuelta Andalucia to judge form but for now Tejay van Garderen is an obvious pick and since he likes his time trialling, here’s a route to suit. Compatriot Andrew Talansky returns and should do well too, he’s punchy enough for the time bonuses (pending confirmation). I’m keen to see what Wilco Kelderman does, the route seems perfect for him. Geraint Thomas is tipped to lead Sky with Richie Porte backed by Nicolas Roche and Bradley Wiggins. Astana are bringing Fabio Aru with previous stage winner Lieuwe Westra and the mercurial Rein Taaramäe. Free from wearing a rainbow target on his back Rui Costa is another name to pick.

Ag2r La Mondiale bring their lead duo of Romain Bardet and Jean-Christophe Péraud. Péraud’s had a busy winter with his new found fame plus surgery on a saddle sore. As for Bardet, after losing out on GC to Tejay van Garderen in the Tour de France he managed to get TvG’s power data and discovered he was putting out just as many W/kg as his American rival but lost two minutes in the same time trial says L’Equipe today (print). So he’s visited the Silverstone F1 windtunnel at his own expense in order to help improve his TT position and has been doing strength work to adopt the new, lower position.

We’ll see more names in action, especially the sprinters and classics contenders coming for week’s racing before the Monuments begin and Tony Martin is down to ride too. Can he win both TT stages?

Paris-Nice vs. Tirreno-Adriatico: it looks odd the calendar but fans can rejoice as they get two races a day to watch with slightly different finish times. If it’s dysfunctional for the sporting calendar it adds some suspense as there’s something good about two different paths, it keeps us guessing about the relative form of riders. As much as it makes sense to avoid a clash if we had Paris-Nice followed by Tirreno-Adriatico or vice versa a risk is we’d have the same results following each other too.

Wildcards: there are the 17 World Teams plus Cofidis, Europcar and Bretagne-Séché.

Déjà vu? Some stage names might be familiar as they’re regulars in the Tour de France or Paris-Nice, think St Amand Montrond or St Pourçain-sur-Sioule. Some towns like hosting bike races more than others but ASO has a policy of cross-selling where towns that pick up a stage of Paris-Nice will be more likely to get the Tour de France. Given the Tour de France will use the Mende aerodrome finish, perhaps we can expect Paris-Nice to return there in 2016?

Blank canvas: ASO are still looking for a sponsor for the points jersey. PMU pulled out after sponsoring it for years and Paris-Nice looks set to supply a blank jersey with no sponsor. If ASO can’t get a jersey sponsor, imagine the troubles facing lesser races.

TV: as a rule it’ll be on the same TV channel you watched the Tour de France and Eurosport too.

13 thoughts on “Paris-Nice Route”

  1. Was Bardet who bought a powermeter his own expenses too last year?

    Does Agr2 pay millions of salary for him or is expecting a miracle for the boy winning a TdF?

  2. When I look at this year’s route I’m starting to like the previous one even more. This one is so obvious. All will go down to the final time trial up to Col d’Eze. The only mountaintop finish will be ridden defensively to keep the gaps small unless someone brave jumps away and grab 20-30 seconds. The stage around Nice will end up with sprint of 20-30 guys. Last year there were no time trial so everyone tried to attack and gain some time. Actually every stage with hills was pretty interesting.

    Moreover Paris Nice 2015, like last year, has quite a b-field comparing to Tirreno. Good opportunity to earn a big guy like Kelderman/Thomas/Van Garderen. But Porte is clearly the favorite unless he won’t ride.

  3. Probably my most favourite race of the year. I won’t be over-analysing or trying to predict winners or comparing the course with previous etc. etc. I will purely be enjoying that which is Paris Nice.

    • Why do you consider this the start?
      Omloop? K-B-K? Strade Bianche?
      I know P-N is the first WT race in Europe, but the above are very importatant races too.

  4. Thanks for your continued coverage of my local race, Inrng.

    The Saturday stage, if it starts at 34m altitude, must be well outside Hence, as the town’s up at at least 250m. Will mean a decent warm-up to take on the Col de Vence, which is nicely steady at this time of year (but a bit hot in the summer).

    Good to see that they’re going up to the Col de St Roch via Coareze. That’s the harder side, with a couple of short, steep sections that could be a launchpad for ambitious riders. The descent starts off a bit twitchy, but by the time you get to Luceram is very fast. I hope there’s good action – I’d prefer the jersey to change hands on Saturday rather than after Sunday’s TT.

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