The traditional final stage is back after a two year hiatus. There’s a twist as the climb of the Col d’Eze uses a much steeper side road.
Stage 7 Review: the stage went as if it were scripted, the early breakaway didn’t have time to build up a buffer and on the final climb Steven Kruijswijk and then Rohan Dennis set the pace before Ineos tried the old 1-2, sending Adam Yates first as a decoy and then Dani Martinez. Primož Roglič was able to cover the moves and Simon Yates and Nairo Quintana joined them before Roglič launched his trademark uphill sprint to win the stage. The only surprise was João Almeida who caught the leaders in the finish.
The Route: just 115km and the usual loop into the hills. 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.
This difference this year is the race takes a shortcut rather than taking the main road of the Col d’Eze and because this road is much shorter, it’s also much steeper. And narrower too. It’s much more of a wall-like climb, the Chemin du Vinaigrier will sting with over a kilometre at 13%.
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: the final stage has often seen the breakaway make it but often with only just. Brandon McNulty (UAE) is blowing hot and cold, we’ll see. On paper it’s a course for Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step) should like the punchy course. David de la Cruz (Astana)
has won this stage twice before is ill. Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM) has tried many times in this race and the new Eze route won’t help.
Among the GC contenders who’s get the best sprint on the flat? If Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) comes in with his GC rivals he and his team will want the win but you’d forgive him for sitting up before the line to celebrate as well. Simon Yates (BikeExchange) has a good finish from a small group, ditto Adam Yates (Ineos) with the latter 4th overall and with less to lose than Simon who has a podium and much needed UCI points for his team.
|Brandon McNulty, João Almeida, Adam Yates
Weather: race to the sun? Not this time and if plenty of riders have quit the race already, some of those left might have preferred to have bailed already, it’ll be 12°C, wet and windy.
TV: the finish is forecast for 4.55pm Euro time. It’s on France TV and Eurosport/GCN. If you’ve enjoyed watching Paris-Nice all week and then channel hopping to Tirreno-Adriatico, the timings are reversed with the last stage in Italy a likely sprint finish and due around 3.15pm CET.