The final stage of Paris-Nice and usually a great day’s racing. A forced course change means less of a wild route today but it’s the last chance for a stage win.
Kanibal: a decent breakaway but a hard chase from Jumbo-Visma and Bora-Hansgrohe plus others reduced the escapees’ lead going into the final climb. Kenny Elissonde, Neilson Powless and Gino Mäder went clear and gradually Mäder went solo. The Swiss climber had a lead going into the final kilometre and it was touch and go, yet at one point, the chase group of Roglič, Schachmann et al seemed to be looking at each other more than the stage win. Then Roglič launched and left everyone for dust, Mäder included.
Could Roglič have gifted the win? Yes, but Schachmann was close by, so it would have been hard to engineer if he felt like it. More importantly, this was no 250km solo from Mäder in front of his family or in the last year of his career. Bahrain is no charity-case outfit either. Plus, Roglič is indisputably the strongest in the race, but he started the day “only” 41 seconds ahead of Max Schachmann meaning a puncture, a late crash or some other hiccup and he could see the race slip from his grip. Given what happened on La Planche des Belles Filles just six months ago, he’s not going to be leaving time bonuses and wins on the table.
The Route: the second of two abbreviated stages, and just like last year, Paris-Nice won’t quite finish in Nice. But we get eight stages this time and the real problem is if Paris-Nice doesn’t reach Nice next year because of the pandemic, then we really are in trouble. Instead, today is three laps of a hilly circuit, about 850m of vertical gain for each 35km lap or 2,600m of climbing in total. The graphic above from the organisers says the main climb up to Duranus is 3.8km at 13.3%, which sounds infernal but it’s just 7% average and a well known road for locals in Nice and Monaco. This doesn’t make it easy, though, and it’s on a twisting road up and then down, which most of the circuit is.
The Finish: a rare bit of flat road in Levens.
The Contenders: Primož Roglič again? Why not, but it’s not so easy here. The finish is flat, and if he comes in with a group he’s not the pick; a strong one, but not the certain one. Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) is good in a sprint and outsiders include Movistar’s giant Mateo Jorgenson and Tiesj Benoot (DSM).
|Primož Roglič, Tiesj Benoot, Dylan Teuns
|Jorgenson, Matthews, Izaguirre
Weather: sunshine but just 12°C and some wind from the NW
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.00pm 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.
Tirreno-Adriatico’s finish is an hour earlier today so tune in first for the “wall” stage in Italy as they tackle the climb to Castelfidardo.