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.
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Thanks for the preview – if Pogacar had restless legs earlier in the week, after a day off he’ll be champing at the bit. So more of the same maybe? Race for the bonus seconds & then up the climb “full gas” as Pogacar says. Hope the weather does not causes problems and someone can stay with the Slovenian.
Jayco have a handy lead in the teams competition where normally they are nowhere it. Will be interested to see if they can maintain it and if it wins them any UCI points.
Not that its a major prize but chris harper seems to be a good addition to the team although schultz was a bad loss. Not great for him either as he signed for the team that went bust and then probably isreal on a lower salary. Sobrero is 10th on GC although probably not going to keep it after this stage.
On a related but of topic note i count 13 Australian riders in this race. It is strange that there are so many as cycling is a very minor sport in Australia. A lot of people ride bikes but in terms of public exposure it is nonexistent. And in my region of the country there is virtually no more racing due to lack of numbers and difficulty of putting on races. Even in the nearest state capital city there seems mainly just closed circuit criteriums because to get even a small road race you need Police, State roads and all councils you travel through to approve your plans. Its close to the point where you need full expensive traffic management for every corner just for a race.
The total number of Aussies at WT level this year is 27, down a few after five consecutive years of having more than 30.
The former structure of strong interstate competition worked well for developing talent, but the replacement of that structure with the former state bodies being merged into the centralised (and top-heavy) AusCycling body has undone all those decades of good work.
That goes for organising lower level racing as well. Local government officials had productive relationships with local organisers, but that’s now been replaced by them dealing with a a bureaucracy based in Melbourne who must be dealt with correctly as there’s no history of working together and whose working relationship can’t be advanced by sitting down to discuss plans over a cup of coffee.
Teams competition does not carry UCI ranking points.
Jonas Gregaard has to get himself in the break today. Take the first climb, and if Pogacar doesn’t take the final climb, the KOM overall must be virtually in the bag (my tiny brain can’t work out the numbers). And if Pog does, then there’s still tomorrow, where Gregaard can either be in the break or hope that Pog isn’t. Well done to Uno-X. They’ve looked an exciting team in smaller races, and I’ve wanted to see them in a grand tour: they look an excellent pick for a TdF wildcard.
Jayco have 30 riders on their books. If you multiply that by 20 world tour teams you get 600 riders. 13 in 600 is a bit over 2% or not very startling.
The actual number of WorldTour riders is currently 531, and the total number of Australian riders is 27 (5.1%)
The 13 Australians contesting Paris-Nice make up 8.4% of the 154 strong start list, a slight overrepresentation which is balanced by an underrepresentation at Tirreno-Adriatico (5 riders) and one third (9 riders) not racing this week.
Hopefully questions are being asked at AusCycling about the development programs over recent years as this is the first year since 2017 when Australia has had fewer than 30 riders at WT level.
De Gent’s comments about not crashing since 2018 are interesting. The life of a breakaway specialist. Off the front or on the back I guess.