Paris-Nice Stage 4 Preview

After some stages for sprinters and classics contenders, a day for the time trial specialists and overall contenders.

Job Dun: two breakaway specialists in Alexis Gougeard and Thomas De Gendt, plus Owain Doull made the early break but they never got much time with Alpecin-Fenix working to contain them.

On the finishing circuit the Col de Peyroux was enough to eject Sam Bennett, Fabio Jakobsen and Dylan Groenewegen and, unless they’re bluffing, their chances in Sanremo don’t look too sharp. Wout van Aert looked the obvious pick for the stage win in Dun-le-Palestel but Trek-Segafredo had other plans and launched Mads Pedersen with 250m to go and he powered all the way to the line, with Bryan Coquard riding like a mosquito on his wheel and van Aert in third.

The Route: Domérat to Montlucon, 13km. The former was the home to Audrey Tatou, the actress from the film Amélie that included a brief reference to the Tour de France with the line “good fortune is like the Tour de France, you wait a ages for it and then it goes by fast“. Montluçon has more cycling connections, long home to Roger Walkowiak and also Julian Alaphilippe.

Anyway enough celebrity news, this is a short TT with two climbs. The first is soon after the start and goes on a little bit longer and gets a bit steeper than any of the specialist TT riders might want, the 5% on the profile doesn’t tell the whole story. After an undulating section comes the first of two fast descents towards Montluçon, time to use the 56 or 58T chainring. Then it’s around the shores of the Sault lake, Montluçon’s version of the beach. A sharp ramp after the lake with fast roads that lead to the second descent down a valley into Montluçon. Once in town there’s a tight turn and it’s onto the final climb to the line. Listed as 700m at 8.6%, it’s an irregular road that pitches up with 12% sections, levels out briefly when a side road approaches, then kicks up again before easing as the course turns right to the line.

Overall it’s fast without anything too technical. There’s plenty of fresh tarmac – which suggests the area wants the Tour de France to visit soon – and the pure specialists will enjoy the long straights and fast downhill sections where they can exploit all their aero prowess but will have to be careful with the climbs at the start and finish.

The Contenders: if your name is Stefan you’ve got a good chance today, especially if you’re Swiss as well. Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) is a TT specialist and has been climbing well so the two uphill sections suit but ideally he’d like more corners and if he’s consistently up there with the best, he’s often pipped by someone else. Step forward Stefan Bissegger (EF Pro Cyling), who recently got the better of Filippo Ganna in the UAE Tour and is the other obvious pick, he’s ok with sharp climbs too. Oh and Stefan De Bod (Astana) is strong in the TTs too.

Away from the Stefans, if you’re on Jumbo-Visma you’ve got a good chance too. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) will like the course, especially the final climb as a means to take back time, and team mate Wout van Aert has a good chance too although yesterday’s sprint might suggest he’s a touch sore from a crash on Stage 2. Rohan Dennis is another TT specialist and hasn’t looked sparkling in the race so far but could be saving himself for today.

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Aleksandr Vlasov probably won’t win today but he’ll be close while Ineos have Dani Martinez and perhaps Ethan Hayter with outside chances. Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) has won the Paris-Nice TT stage before but that was a surprise then and it’d be an upset if he does it again, a similar story with Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM) who won on a technical course when today is much simpler and rewards aerodynamics and power, plus he launched two attacks yesterday. UAE pair João Almeida and Brandon McNulty are out of the GC race, does this mean they’re fresh for today or that they’ve mentally ruled themselves out? Normally they’d place today but hard to see a win. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step) could be close and the same for wildman Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies). Finally Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) is in form too and handy in a TT – second in Bessèges with the climb to the Hermitage – but hard to see the win.

Stefan Bissegger, Stefan Küng
Wout van Aert, Primož Roglič, Rohan Dennis
Vlasov, Pedersen

Weather: sunny and a top temperature of 15°C with a southerly breeze of 15km/h.

A heads-up for the weather to come as there’s the chance of snow for the Turini summit finish on Saturday. Now this is great publicity for the place as it’s a mini ski station but hopefully the roads are fine.

TV: the first rider is off soon after 1.00pm CET and the last rider starts at 3.45pm CET. It’s on France TV and Eurosport/GCN.

13 thoughts on “Paris-Nice Stage 4 Preview”

      • Pedersen did tell Danish media he’s very interested in finding out where he stands TT-wise and promised he would make a 100% go of it today. Even so, considering the competition, a top-5 seems a big ask.

  1. Let’s get rid of the tempo bikes altogether. Let it be, as the romantics say, be a challenge against the clock. What a godawful spectacle it is now so specialized (no pun intended). Just race against the clock with the same equipment, weather we can isolate against, but the race have to do with weathering the weather.
    And the manufacturers would be induced too, not having to make stuff that only half of half a percent would buy in any case.

    It’s an abomination of cycling with what it’s an insanely expensive sport as it is. The history you say? Well, largely the (TT)sport had to change in face of some silly change in utility or posture. Silly postures are large now.

  2. “…if you’re on Jumbo-Visma you’ve got a good chance too.”

    Or three!
    Two stars each ^__^

    Can anybody with a great memory tell me the last time a team made a hattrick in any cycling race of sort? Oh, wait…

      • Sorry, it just hit me which treble you meant! haha… sorry, I had a concussion only 4 months ago, my memory isn’t 100% yet.

        LOL – yes, you see the parallels, but please let’s just enjoy this for the sake of enjoying it!

    • Yeah, well, can anyone remember the last time a team made a hattrick in a week-long stage race *and* in half the stages *and* at least got on the podium in every stage?

      • Hm, hope I didn’t jinx anything. JV didn’t even break top 20 … but still sitting comfortably in yellow. (I hope >that< doesn't jinx anything!)

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