Paris-Nice Stage 7 Preview

This was supposed to be the big mountain stage but it’s been shortened. It’s still the big mountain stage thanks to the long climb to the Col Saint-Martin and it’s another chance for Primož Roglič to win in another way.

Prime Roglič: a fast start as riders tried to crowd the breakaway, but once a move got clear, it wasn’t going to be. Jumbo-Visma chased and things headed for an uphill sprint. At the foot of the climb to the finish with 2km to go, there was a wide cast of characters in contention. Primož Roglič was second wheel all the way up. Guillaume Martin tried his seemingly habitual badly timed attack – too late to get a gap, too early to launch a sprint – but this time he had a reason to try as his team mate Christophe Laporte was right in contention. This forced Roglič to chase in person, but he just rounded Martin and kept going. At a glance, it looked like a sprint win, but the length of the effort was remarkable. Look at the results and everyone was on the same time but nobody was close to winning.

The Route: an abbreviated route. Nice is a Covid hotspot in France and has endured local lockdowns for the last few weekends. With the case count now falling, the mayor wants to let people enjoy the coastline, so having to fence-off the area for a bike race isn’t ideal. As part of this, today’s start is shunted out of the city. The difference is today’s stage is 119km compared to the planned 166km route but it’s still the same: a dash to the foot of the big climb.

The Finish:the same as 2018 and 2020. It’s a 16km climb to the ski station of La Colmiane atop the Col Saint-Martin. 6.2% is not much but it’s still selective and crucially it’s often steeper, where the mid-way kilometre of 3.5% has a flat part and then a steep part so, as ever, beware of averages. Overall, it’s a steady climb and a wide road and the kind of climb where being sat on a wheel means saving energy, especially for the second half where the gradient eases a touch. This suits a group more than a lone rider, and in 2018, we saw many riders being ejected from the group long before any attacks started. It kicks up a touch for the finish.

The Contenders: it’s harder to imagine the scenarios where Primož Roglič doesn’t win than where he does. He could take a flyer with several kilometres to go, and as we’ve seen, he’s got the jump to open up a gap that others can’t match; he could sit tight and snipe the win in a sprint. Obviously, if he’s thinking like this, then mistakes can happen and overconfidence could be his downfall. But his team can help chase down rival moves and more. Still Sacha Vlasov (Astana), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Guillaume Martin are the climbers most likely to cause problems, and the latter two are over a minute down on GC which means they don’t have to be closed down instantly by Roglič.

Primož Roglič
Vlasov, Gaudu
Schachmann, Martin, Hamilton, O’Connor

Weather: sunshine and 16°C with with some wind, 20km/h from the west and it could gust more. Cooler at altitude.

TV: an early finish is 3.00pm CET. It’s on France 3 for locals and VPN users, or Eurosport/GCN for most of the rest of the world and NBC Sports Gold in the US.

You can then cross to Tirreno-Adriatico’s big ski station summit finish at Prati di Tivi and presumably a day where Mathieu van der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe and Wout van Aert can’t win. The finish in Italy is at 4.15pm CET.

37 thoughts on “Paris-Nice Stage 7 Preview”

    • The television commentators mentioned yesterday Roglic’s impressive record in one day races.
      I compared his dominance to that of Chris Froome’s but it’s worth noting that Roglic is more of a perennial to Froome’s mid / late Summer bloom.
      I wonder how Pogacar would have gotten on here?
      The two Slovenians are on different tracks at the moment but I suspect that they may converge in the Ardennes soon?
      You have to admire that they’re up and running, and in splendid nick, so early in the season though.
      Never mind how expressive or not they are in interviews, they do more than enough talking out on the road where it matters.

    • I agree with Mr IR. Looks to me one for Landa, Higuita, Quintana, Bardet, Fuglsang, Almeida…Pogacar, maybe even Pinot, Nibali or Yates, if they have just had bad days rather than bad form so far. It all shows the relative weakness of the field in P-N.

      My picks for today : P-N Roglic, and T-A Higuita

      • It can look hard to see past one of the van der Alaphilippe trio but WvA is still a bit heavier than July and today’s climb is 15km long at 6-7%. There’s still a chance for Alaphilippe given what he did on the Ventoux and more but he’ll be at his limits and others like Bernal and Pogačar look more suited.

    • I strongly fancy Pogacar – he’s looked good already (although so has Bernal) – but I’ll be interested to see how well Alaphilippe and van Aert can do, especially WVA as he’s untried as a GC contender, although we’ve seen him climb plenty of mountains.
      Is WVA’s ability as a climber his main advantage over MvdP?

      • According to himself it’s his sprint from a high speed start, whereas a sprint on a steep hill or from a slow start MvdP has the edge. Van Aert can churn big power out for a long time, hence him being a good time trialist and capable on a long climb. I’m not sure we’ve seen any of that from MvdP have we?

        • No, it’ll be interesting to see what MvdP can do in TTs and long climbs, but he seems too big to be too good in the mountains.
          The only thing he needs to add to his arsenal is to improve his positioning towards the end of races: yesterday he had to come from quite far back in the last 1 or 2km, and the day before starting from far back may have cost him the stage. (Nit-picking, of course.)

  1. Glad to see GM take over Pierre Rolland’s responsibility for the Energy Wasting Attack — always something to look forward to!

    Thanks, INRNG, for your brilliant write-ups, which are looked forward to in this household even more than that 🙂

    • A loyal reader with a long memory, Rolland’s attacks aren’t as frequent these days, he’s even sat out Paris-Nice as he says he needs more time to get into form each spring and the pace is too high in Paris-Nice. I should emphasise Martin’s attack didn’t work in itself but it was really impressive team work with Porte left in the ideal position, his only problem was that nobody could get round Roglič. Porte’s struggled a bit on the team when asked to work as a leadout for Bouhanni and then Viviani but in tougher finishes like this he can make his own and finished ahead of a lot of riders.

      • Good to get the PR update, thanks! I’m a big GM fan and my comment above was very much tongue-in-cheek. Having seen that day’s highlights now, I agree that it was an impressive intervention in the race, given that Roglič seems all but unstoppable at the moment.

  2. Van der Allaphoeleart? Given WvA’s efforts on big climbs at the last tour and Allaphillipe fight to stay in yellow on big climbs the year before I’d put their chances ahead of MvdP but still behind lots of others.

  3. I’m a +1 on Pogacar at Tirreno today and Roglic at P-N because he’ll just mark all the way up, and then he might as well go for it.
    The interesting side bet will be to see which of the Three Musketeers is the first to crack.

  4. Is that considered bad form on Roglic’s part to crush Mäder’s soul with 20 metres to go? Mäder sure looked annoyed, judging by his hand gesture. The flobikes commentator suggested that Mäder was “unimpressed”…
    Bad form or not, it was a vicious attack.
    What a day for the Slovenes.
    Perhaps Roglic should give Mäder a nice Swiss watch to thank him for the leadout?

    • He didn’t need to win today, one team will be more reluctant to give a helping Hans later this season.
      in my humble opinion it was not a smart decicion.

      • Roglic obviously doesn’t believe in the karma bank. It was totally unnecessary for him to pass mader after he had broken schachmann. He’s not going to get any help from Bahrain.

      • Hard to imagine Bahrain lending a “helping hand” to Jumbo, what race situation would that be?

        Roglic was ruthless, but it is his right, I don’t think he cares much about his media profile anyway, and I don’t know if cheering fans matter all that much to him. He doesn’t seem to be the kind of rider who needs external enthusiasm to give his best showing.

        It was funny to hear commentators yesterday saluting Roglic’s chivalrous attitude when he seemed to let go of the victory with about 1km to go… Only to take it all back after the last 300m. Jalabert (commentator on FranceTV) pointed out that maybe Mäder lost it because of his own inexperience, playing cat-and-mouse with Powless with only 45s or so, even though he seemed much stronger on the whole climb. If he had gone earlier, or simply kept his pace and attacked him in the last km (or more likely, watched him drop beforehand), he might have kept another 15s on the chase and made the Jumbo job that much harder/riskier.

        You live, you learn. Mäder seems to mature more slowly than some of his contemporaries but he’s been hailed as one of the future greats for a couple of years now, no doubt we’ll see more of him.

    • I’m perfectly ok with what Roglic did.

      Mader did not “lead” him out, take a pull, or did anything to indicate JV/Roglic “owed” him anything. Roglic closed a pretty big gap and dusted everyone.

      After losing the TdF in the TT in the penultimate day, I’m pretty sure Roglic ran in his mind all the opportunities he could have put time on his opponents and how he rued not doing so. I bet that he’ll maximize all these chances, at least until he wins the Tour one day. It’s a lot more appealing to be magnanimous once you’ve achieved peace of mind.

      • I was kidding about the lead out…and the watch. Follow up on a question I asked INRNG the other day about sprinters thanking their conductors… 🙂

  5. At 46km to go in today’s P-N stage, Adam Blythe on Eurosport UK mentions the extra light wheels Ineos are using, and then twice says that ‘these are the marginal gains we’ve heard so much about’.
    Is he trolling?

  6. I’ve never had this experience on INRNG before, but it feels like we’re following the wrong race! Tirreno has everyone aside from Rog – I wanna hear the thoughts on Geraint, Bernal being dropped, WVA being a GC contender, Pog climbing 2mins faster than Froome in 2014, Simon Yates impressing – and what an earth are riders like Landa going to do now, their chance feels gone, they may as well be a domestique again unfortunately. Also is EPoel gonna come back better than Almeida.

  7. I thought it was a good afternoon to go out for a ride as watching the racing seemed likely to be on the boring side…..Missed out on another Roglic collapse and a remarkable ride from MvP, both of them are getting reputations (one which Primoz Roglic really will not want!)

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