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Paris-Nice Stage 6 Preview

The race goes on for now and here’s a stage with hillier terrain for a new cast of characters.

Stage 5 Review: a long day and a breakaway of four riders, each capable of turning a big gear, in Jan Tratnik, Ryan Mullen, Alexis Gougeard and Anthony Turgis. They made the bunch work all day to the point where the sprinters behind in the bunch were too tired to sprint effectively. The quartet fractured and with 7km to go Tratnik dropped Gougeard to go solo and it looked like he could hold off the bunch right until the final metres. Suddenly Niccolò Bonifazio seemed to sense that if he didn’t do something the there’d be no chance and the Italian popped out of the bunch and took the stage ahead of Ivan Garcia Cortina and Peter Sagan. It’s a big win for the second tier Total Direct Energie team, their last in the World Tour since Jérôme Cousin in the 2018 Paris-Nice. Bonifazio dedicated the win to his compatriots back in Italy, a nice touch but spare a thought for him as he’s in great shape, lives local to the Cipressa and Poggio – only there’s no Milan-Sanremo. EF Pro Cycling had a tough day, losing three riders at Tejay van Garderen left the race to fly home, Michael Woods crashed and breaking his leg and Lawson Craddock getting a fever… which was checked and he was given the all clear to leave.

The Route: 160km into the Luberon and a hilly day for a breakaway. It’s a short ride from Sorgues to the finish in Apt but the route today zigs and zags before reaching Apt to head out for a hilly loop of 47km. None of the day’s climbs are too hard, typically 5% but often on rough old roads. The last climb to Auribeau through the lavender fields is listed as 4km 5.7% but it’s got 3km nudging 7% to the top and this makes it selective.

The Finish: a twisty finish but through the intermediate sprint crossed earlier as they climb – 1km at 8% – past apartment blocks in the residential area above Apt. Then it descends back to town on a wide road with few obstacles before a drag back up to the line in the centre of town.

The Contenders: it’s Friday 13 and this is traditionally a lucky day in France so by extension a good day for a breakaway. Tomorrow’s the obvious GC stage. Plenty of riders are now minutes down on GC so take your pick from a very motivated field as tomorrow might work for a breakaway but it’s not so obvious.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) is an obvious pick but his time trial performance says the form is there and the course suits, several climbs for him to grind down rivals and if all else fails there’s the mountains jersey to collect, he won it last year.

Among the others Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r La Mondiale) has been impressive so far this season but this is a bigger stage while the team has more options like Nans Peters and Pierre Latour… but they often go in the breakaway but rarely convert it into a win. The same for Xandro Meurisse (Circus-Wanty). Julian Alaphilippe and several other Deceuninck-Quickstep riders are bound to try again. Some picks might be saving themselves to help a team mate tomorrow like Alberto Bettiol at EF Pro Cycling, or they might prefer tomorrow’s finish outright like Richie Porte or Romain Bardet.

There’s always the chance it comes back for a bunch sprint and Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain-McLaren) looks an obvious pick ahead of Peter Sagan.

Thomas De Gendt, Julian Alaphilippe
Cosnefroy, Meurisse, Latour, Valgren, Asgreen, Jungels, IGC, Sagan


Weather: sunshine and clouds, a top temperature of 17°C. It’s windy again with a 20km/h breeze from the NW which crucially could gust to 45km/h, enough to split things if the wind is sustained.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.25pm CET time. It should be available on the same channel you watch the Tour de France and/or Eurosport.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • RQS Friday, 13 March 2020, 8:30 am

    Any chance for Mads Pedersen? He’s looked lively, though I imagine he’s here training for the classics, and is perhaps not so keen to burn himself out on bigger climbs. Given that the season could be over by the weekend he might throw caution to the wind…..

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 13 March 2020, 9:06 am

      The climbs make it harder for him, if I see him trying to barge clear I see Asgreen doing the same and he seems to climb much better. Should be a lively start and a lively finish.

  • Digahole Friday, 13 March 2020, 8:44 am

    Vintage edition!
    Thought Tratnik had it. Thought Jungles and Asgreen had it with their Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne tag team. Then thought Tratnik had it again. And then that amazing finish by Bonifazio out of an overcooked mess of a pack.
    It might be remembered as the Paris-Nice that never finished, but the racing’s been superb.

    • Stijn_VH Friday, 13 March 2020, 9:51 am

      Yeah, a smaller peloton with stronger teams seem to work more in favour of exciting racing than the opposite…

  • noel Friday, 13 March 2020, 10:07 am

    whatever Bonifazio does I’ll always love his Poggio descent more….

    • noel Friday, 13 March 2020, 10:07 am

      or was it the Cipressa?

      • Lukyluk Friday, 13 March 2020, 11:44 am

        It was the Cipressa, he got brought back on the first slopes of the Poggio. And it was indeed one of the craziest descents I’ve ever seen on TV.

        • Anonymous Friday, 13 March 2020, 2:44 pm

          I raise you, Kelly 1992.

  • plurien Friday, 13 March 2020, 10:21 am

    I know this sounds like,”I just hope both teams have fun”, but I really hope some riders decide this will be their only chance to shine as the season judders to a stop. Could be a great stage to go out on a high.
    Feel bad for Michael Woods.

    Tokyo Olympics might be the next start for many, if ASO has to pull TdF. – Everyone will need a 2020 Games to lift things back to a kind of normality…

    As for what we do in the meantime, what about doing reruns of GT stages and Classics that are available on YT? Might be interesting to compare one decade’s edition to another, or pick out telltale signs of things that later became public scandal.
    As for me, well I’m still doing the manual labour needed to prepare for the MTB series and off road sportives, but it’s getting to feel a bit hollow. – Guess that’s pretty tame compared to the way covid-19 has affected some (thinking of you Larry T).
    Here’s to next year.

    • Larry T Friday, 13 March 2020, 11:26 am

      I think one can wonder why this thing is still going on? It’s impossible (according to experts here) that ASO has more pull with the French government than RCS has with Italy’s…so why?
      Now that F1 in OZ and MOTOGP in Austin have been cancelled while even the greedy capitalists who run the USA’s “March Madness” have pulled-the-plug, our sport is beginning to look rather foolish now. ASO’s been “the only adults in the room” for sometime now IMHO, but they’re acting like selfish brats in this case 🙁
      Here in Italy, where certain folks would assume the citizens are flouting the regulations put-in-place to stop this pandemic, the cooperation has been amazing from what I’ve seen in-person and in Italian media. I go out and down the street each morning, buy a loaf of fresh bread and am back inside in less than 5 minutes. The store operators wear masks and gloves and make sure only a few customers are in their store at any one time. Pretty much everything else is closed. We’re staying inside despite the rules actually OK’ing outdoor exercise as long as you maintain a safe distance from other people. I figure I could ride around in the Sicilian sun with my wife as usual, but in solidarity with my adopted country we’re following advice from Davide Cassani and others to just-stay-home until April 3.
      Best wishes to all to stay safe and sound until the all-clear signs are given, wherever you might be.

      • Lukyluk Friday, 13 March 2020, 11:53 am

        If you cordon off the start and finish lines, a race like Paris-Nice on a weekday doesn’t draw out big crowds… Nor are they bankrolled by ticket sales, so there’s still a reason to keep the race going. And I’m not sure they’re acting “selfish”, the resources used for the race wouldn’t really help to resolve the crisis, apart from the two doctors on the race…

        It’s harder to justify going ahead with the smaller races (Normandie, Brittany) that are not on TV and rely a lot more on fans to come out and check out the race (and the sponsors).

        The biggest threat to organizers will be travel restrictions – it would be hard to go ahead with the Tour, for instance, if two thirds of the teams pull out because of logistics or travel bans for riders and staff.

        The fact is, most sports need to draw crowds to turn a profit, or even break even, in a big event. Cycling’s financial curse is a blessing in times like these.

        • Larry T Friday, 13 March 2020, 12:31 pm

          The reason to keep Paris-Nice going is WHAT exactly? So you have something to entertain you and post about here? Regardless of whether there are crowds of spectators or not, the athletes have (by design) a tough time keeping the “social distance” the authorities claim is needed to slow down or stop this pandemic, not to mention the travel to/from the events. That’s why the “closed door” stadium/arena sporting events have been ridiculed (and for the most part) stopped, as in the “March Madness” case.
          My hope is everyone stays well and safe, even those (like you?) who don’t seem to understand what’s at stake here.

          • Lukyluk Friday, 13 March 2020, 1:40 pm

            Harsh words… I meant no offense to anyone.

            And I don’t feel like I’m demanding my bread and circuses at the expense of someone’s health, like you’re implying.

            Maybe I worded this wrong, maybe you understood me wrong. Either way that’ll be enough from me on the matter.

          • Larry T Friday, 13 March 2020, 2:36 pm

            Lukyluk – no hard feelings. Stay safe, we’re ALL in this together 🙂

          • RQS Friday, 13 March 2020, 2:46 pm

            If riders were getting infected, showing signs of transmission etc. Then there is a problem, but given they’re not communing with local populations extensively (while on the bike they won’t touch each other) and cyclists have been known to be very aware of respiratory disease transmission I’m not sure they and their tour buses create much of a risk. The numbers spectating from the roadside are not massive, tend to be local and sporadic, so the chances of increasing infection between spectators is not great, especially after limiting the numbers at the finish. Cycling doesn’t create the huge draw which requires mass transportation, and links with transport hubs, like football or rugby etc.
            Also, the race has been travelling through rural areas where the infection is not common or widespread. Nice is a different kettle of fish, but by that time the race stops anyway and the cyclists go home. They’ll not want to catch anything and so the riders should be taking precautions to avoid spreading anything their exposed to.
            However, if this was day 1, and cyclists were coming in from all over to attend the start the risks of spreading are much higher because of the use of mass transport and transport hubs to get from A to B. I’d let PN finish and then stop further races accordingly.
            I know some teams have sent riders home because of the faintest sniffle.

          • RQS Friday, 13 March 2020, 2:53 pm

            And, they’ve just cancelled Nice. Must admit that makes sense. The longer this pandemic goes on the less likely you could get away with it.

          • Anonymous Friday, 13 March 2020, 4:53 pm

            To all the comments here about corona and Paris-Nice:
            Actually it is very important to keep a resemblance of normalcy and something to distract people. People get already depressed, suicidal, frightened etc. by the crisis and the way it is reported (every new case gets trotted out with breaking news alarm and relish) and social media (which of course includes comments) does the rest. There is a whole wave of psychological reactions to all this already happening. This will be a real problem very soon. Aside from all the nurses and doctors, and journalists, too, that feel like being in a war zone and who will also need psychological help when things calm down.

            But I am pretty sure you alone know what and who is right or wrong.

            Everywhere where people get tested, the virus is found and where it is not tested, it is still there, but simply not found. Certain countries and people brag about their low numbers – but in truth we have no real idea, if they are real or what is going on. We only know 3 things (if we know them!): How many get tested, how many of those tested are positive and how many of those positive then die. That is really all we know. It would help to stay in the boundaries of this, the only real knowledge we have, in discussions.

            Because that is really all we know. Do we really believe, that turkey has just 1 case? Do we really believe, that usa has so few cases? the usa had a test volume yesterday or the day before (I can‘t remember the day I have read the data, but of course I remember the data) of 8 tests. 8 tests. So it is very natural, that, if you only test 8 people, you only can have up to 8 positive cases. turkey, besides being next to iran and housing more than 65% of all refugees on this planet, wants us to believe, that they have only one case – and of course that case comes from foreigners in Europe. Sure, sure. Ridiculous.

            But aside from the governments of usa and turkey, I think almost all other countries including France really try their best. Why can’t you all respect that? Why do you expect some strange infallibility and act as if everybody, who fails what you expect from them is somehow immoral, wrong and unworthy? People try. They try their best. Please respect that. You are not the arbiter of what is right or wrong. We all are not. Opinions are not facts.

            I think it is best to not add to the chaos with prejudices and „theories“ like which company has influence with a government (never heard such nonsense, as if any government would risk making things worse in this situation because of a company!). That is really ugly and not helpful. I think what we should do is support those, who have to make these decisions and be glad, that we don’t have this responsibility. Why not simply let the people do their job?

            It is ok for me to criticise, when there are real, objective reasons. Like in the case of usa and turkey, because in the case of the usa a: they lie (or better trump does) to their people about testing and their people don‘t know, that almost no tests are done b:they lie to their people about the virus and how the situation looks in other places c::of course they could do and test more, if they would stop being stupid, selfish and would organize things better and d: trump‘s travel ban will make things actually much worse, because it wrecks the economy without actually being any help in fighting the virus, he is only interested in himself and even used this crisis for his reelection (I really hope he gets punished for all the horrible things he has done the last 3 years and karma comes to every single person, who voted for that person). And in the case of turkey everybody knows, that erdogan only cares for himself, that official numbers/documents are not trustworthy and that nobody gets tested, no matter the situation, when he does not want it.

            Aside from the governments of these two countries, which obviously not test people and care for them as they should, it is very simple: Not every person on this planet, that gets a cold or flu symptoms or was with a positive case, but has no symptoms can get tested (I have a cold for a week now, but my symptoms are not covid-19 specific, I had no contact with someone infected as far as I know and I get not tested. And this is absolutely ok and right. You don‘t spend resources, that are finite without making sure, that it is necessary and worth it).

            I find it really frightening how people have no clue (for example how many testing kits a country has, what guidances the doctors must follow, how these guidances came about etc), but still dare to question decisions with the real belief, that they have the right and the knowledge to judge. To me this speaks of a real loss of perspective, loss of social empathy and loss of reality. That is what makes it so frightening, because we all depend on each other and it frightens me to having to depend on such people.

            There is no scientific reason why gatherings should be reduced to a certain number. Even the governments, that set all these restrictions admit that. It all is just easier to handle, maybe even only in our psyche, when more people stay at home. The scientists say, that you have normally to stay in the close company of someone for 15 minutes to get a (good!) chance to get a virus. Unlike football, tennis or most other sports the fans actually can stand away from each other along the course and cycling races whizz by in a few seconds. So it are only the start and the finish, that have to be restricted and there access is restricted. And the riders and stuff are only amongst themselves, so the chance for them to get infected seems relatively small. They probably are safer in their bubble than otherwise. And I am really glad the race happens, so people can get distraction and I am thankful for the riders, that they ride. But of course I would understand, if they would stop.

      • hoh Friday, 13 March 2020, 1:22 pm

        Italy would survive.

        • RQS Friday, 13 March 2020, 3:02 pm

          ….and there speaks the voice of reason.

          Culturally and economically there are reasons that these markets exist. It’s easy to get on your high horse about it. It’s down to China if they have the will and wherewith-all to change things, but what has happened has happened, viruses lurk all over the place, and a pandemic was likely sooner or later. The WHO is set up to deal with exactly this scenario. The Chinese have reacted well towards containing it once they accepted that it was highly contagious.

          The coronavirus is nothing new, just that this strain is more virulent. Chances are you’ve had it, but not COVID-19. It’s scary but don’t lose your perspective on it. I’m more worried about how pathetic the U.K. government has been on this. They need to be leading people with their communication, but I reckon people will be going about their business as usual.

        • Anonymous Friday, 13 March 2020, 3:04 pm

          OK, this is unnecessary, comment should be purged and IP address blocked. My message should self destruct accordingly.

          • Anonymous Friday, 13 March 2020, 3:06 pm

            Anonymous to anonymous, not to RQS

  • KevinK Friday, 13 March 2020, 11:09 am

    “…and Lawson Craddock getting a fever… which was checked and he was given the all clear to leave.”

    Just a clarification, he wasn’t really checked, they just decided he didn’t meet the criteria to be tested and so was just sent home. This reveals a major problem in the European response to the virus – people with suggestive but mild symptoms are just being sent home without any confirmation of their infectious status. This is a great way to keep the exponential spread of the virus going. I know the testing capabilities of many countries is limited, but this is bad medical policy.

    Also, just heard that Bahrain-McLaren have pulled out.

    • Lukyluk Friday, 13 March 2020, 12:05 pm

      And the last stage has just been cancelled. Considering the big summit finish is tomorrow though, they will most likely decide to declare a winner for the race.

      • DJW Friday, 13 March 2020, 2:02 pm

        And certainly tomorrow too given that the PM Edouard Philippe has announced that all events involving more than 100 people are banned with immediate effect. Is the season over?

  • Morten Reippuert Saturday, 14 March 2020, 12:59 am

    Sunweb blew up the race a day later than expected.

    Kragh killed Asgreen & QS – Revenge for Asgreen killing Subweb in Kurne ?

    Schachman was svaed twice: first by Asgreen & QS, sencond by the comisioner (just like in last years Basque Country).

    Lets see if there will be a race tomorrow. Denmark goes into complete lockdown saturday at noon, I think Norway is following but dont have the details. All citicens has been recalled.

    Other countries may follow….

  • The GCW / Strictly Amateur Saturday, 14 March 2020, 1:17 am

    I get there is a health consideration…

    However, I hope Paris Nice get’s one more day. Just one more. We’re going to get shut down. Walls will squeeze. But We are so close to seeing a penultimate stage, We want to taste it. Saturday showdown, please.

    Let’s see Higuita battle.