The big summit finish stage of Paris-Nice and if it’s windy, fingers crossed it’s not that bad and yesterday’s storm damage has been cleared away. If you plan to watch on TV, don’t miss the earlier finish time.
Blown away: the stage was cancelled because of high winds but it took a while to get there. It was windy at the start and a plan was to move the start to the KM117 point and use the long finishing circuit to make up the distance. But this didn’t work with the timings so it was going to be start at the later point and race the final 80km. But the finish of the stage was almost as windy as the start and roads were being blocked by fallen trees and various governmental authorities weighed in and it was off. Riders did a quick ride through Tourves, presumably to keep the local mayor onside.
The Route: almost a copy of the 2018 stage early on except that took in an extra climb and its descent. If the route is similar, the labels are different, there’s a climb out of Gattières but this time it’s unmarked when in 2018 it was a second category climb. The climb to Tourette-du-Chateau – the Col Saint-Michel for locals – is a long drag up and then it’s across to the Col de Saint-Raphaël to pick up the Var valley and over to the foot of the day’s big climb and unlike 2018 where they turned right for the Col Saint-Martin, today’s it’s left for La Couillole.
The Finish: a long and steady climb. There’s nothing particularly technical to describe, the early parts have a wide road and the slope is so even all the way up although in the final two kilometres it just tightens up towards 8%.
The Contenders: can the breakaway get clear and build up enough of a buffer to stay away? Jumbo-Visma and Groupama-FDJ don’t have to work today, they’ll hope UAE does all the work but Tadej Pogačar’s team doesn’t have to toil from the start either. Certainly after a sprint stage that was ridden piano and yesterday’s cancelled stage some riders will be bursting with energy while a few others might find it hard to get going.
So there’s a chance for climbers like Clément Champoussin (Arkéa-Samsic), Stephen Williams (Israel-PremierTech) or Anton Charmig (Uno-X) to get away, ideally they’ll want to go in the breakaway with a team mate who can help pull on the front to help build up a lead.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE) can’t sit comfortably today, he is only six seconds ahead of David Gaudu on GC and since tomorrow’s stage often sees results going to the wire, today’s stage offers a clean set-piece opportunity to gain some time. Just a few seconds on the line with the time bonus would suit him. His superiority makes it hard for the likes of David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Simon Yates (Jayco-Al Ula) to get a look in, they can attack late on the final climb but almost need to take turns to dislodge Pogačar. It’s a climb to suit Dani Martinez (Ineos) and he could be allowed to get away and take a few seconds as he’s 1m42s down but is he 100% at the moment?
|Martinez, Yates, Vingegaard|
Weather: sunny, 21°C inland and windy too, 15km/h from the west which could gust to 50km/h.
TV: the stage starts at 10.40, coverage on France3 and Eurosport/GCN begins around 1.30pm and the finish is forecast for 2.50pm CET. Readers wanting to watch more can channel hop to Tirreno-Adriatico where the finish of Stage 6 is due around 4.20pm.