Paris-Nice Stage 8 Preview

The final stage in the hills behind Nice and traditionally the hardest of the race because it can be very hard to control. There’s just four seconds between first and second place on GC. Here’s hoping for another wild ride.

Utelle me: Who is going to win Paris-Nice? Brandon McNulty leads, but now by just four seconds. He was valiant on the final climb yesterday but dropped all the same so today’s stage with its tricky final climb is going to be very difficult for him to stay in contact. Matteo Jorgenson “only” needs four seconds to be tied on time but win thanks to countback. But Jorgenson can’t focus on beating McNulty because he’s got Mattias Skjelmose and Remco Evenepoel at 30 seconds.

The stage saw a breakaway of Johan Jacobs and Benjamin Thomas with the Movistar rider lasting longer under the cold rain but they were always going to be reeled in. The chasing peloton led into the summit finish in train formation with squads vying to drop off their leader in the best position.

Vlasov’s move was the key moment. He was closely watched by Evenepoel. Well almost, as for a couple of seconds it wasn’t because the Belgian looked to his left as Vlasov moved up on the right. Then Evenepoel spotted the move in time. He might have been worried about the “old 1-2 move” of the Russian going and then Primož Roglič countering but in the end Bora-hansgrohe did the “old 1 move” with Vlasov attacking and staying away for the win, not the result they’ve come for but if this is all they get they’ll go home with something, more so far than Soudal-Quickstep. Evenepoel’s gaze was fascinating, out of the saddle he watched and he but didn’t move and everyone else was marking him. If he had a team mate present it could make all the difference to pace him and chase, or set up a launch-mode attack. “If” as in he didn’t and so Vlasov won the stage and for the second day in a row Evenepoel looked the strongest but couldn’t profit from this.

The Route: almost identical to last year’s final stage, it’s 109km and into the hills behind Nice. They leave for  a 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 and just the terrain where it’s hard for a team to control.

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’s where the selection seems to happen every year. 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 – 6-4-2 seconds time bonus – and then it’s down the Moyenne Corniche to the coast.

The difference this year is the race doesn’t climb up all the way again to the Col d’Eze. Instead it’s “just” the wall-like Chemin du Vinaigrier with over a kilometre at 13% before picking up the main road at the Col des Quatre Chemins and then dropping down the corniche cliff road back to Nice.

The Finish: the small rise around the 1km to go point, then a flat finish on the Promenade des Anglais.

The Contenders: Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quickstep) has a second place and three fourth places this week. With a stage win here from a solo stage win he could run off with the whole race. Easier said than done but possible and so is just the stage win as he can sprint from the group but as we keep seeing the group can see others clip away.

Primož Roglič (Bora-hansgrohe) isn’t looking so incisive. His long record of stage race success, at least taking the leader’s jersey, came undone at the Vuelta last year but that was team orders said so. It’s hard to see him taking yellow today but with the right sprint he can win the stage. Team mate Vlasov can repeat, a move on the Vinaigrier climb and he’s away.

Roglič, Vlasov, Skjelmose
Buitrago, Jorgenson

Weather: rain drying out and sunshine but just 9°C.

TV: another early one with the finish forecast for 3.00pm CET. The last 90 minutes should be live so enough to see the often decisive climb of Peille and all that follows.

Postcard from Nice: for the next week this is the centre of the world. At least in cycling terms, Paris-Nice finishes here and Milan-Sanremo is days away. Sanremo is minutes away, a short spin along the coast from Nice. It sounds effortless, but the road is a major transport artery and cyclists are low in the pecking order. It’s often tempting to turn inland and head up a valley rather than stick to the coast and reach Sanremo.

You might have a morning commute to work and these roads are where many a pro cyclist also goes to work. They toil in the traffic like anyone else here as they try to reach their day’s workplace. It could be the Poggio for a 136th recon ride, no bad thing as knowing it backwards helps. But it’s more likely to be another road. Climb the Poggio and you can keep going, the Passo Ghimbegna is a sort of super Poggio and you’ll find many riders doing longer efforts in the hills here. Or leave Nice, pass Monaco and reach Menton to climb the Madone. If you want a longer climb, leave Menton to climb via Castellar and head for Sospel and do the Turini, a climb that takes even the best well over an hour. Perhaps some of these names sound foreign and unknown as they’re not used by races but they’re the gymnasiums of Roglič, Pogačar and more. The Tour will visit them this July though.

64 thoughts on “Paris-Nice Stage 8 Preview”

  1. Thanks for the weeks updates INRNG.
    My advice if you are staying in Nice is to head in the opposite direction – west. Ride the Corniche towards St Raphael for the best roads and views anywhere. This time of year you can see snow capped Alps in the distance on your return, whilst you soak up the Spring sunshine. Mediterranean on your left and Esterel mountains on your right on the outward ride. Turn inland for quiet, well surfaced roads if you want some extra miles. A cycling paradise! What’s not to like?

  2. Many thanks for a week of insightful and entertaining previews. The coverage of the routes and analysis of riders’ strengths and weaknesses has been excellent, and we (well, at least I) have learned amazing things about the places along the route. The importance of Les Mureaux in the postwar industrial landscape of France, the special role of Montargis in the development of China’s communist party, a reminder of Guy Roux’s extraordinary achievements, Paul Cinquin and his relation to the big champions — it has been truly wonderful stuff. I don’t want to embarrass our host or myself with flattery, but I only discovered this blog around three years ago, and therefore I feel the need to say that, to me, it is among the best bits of (cycling) journalism out there. I can’t comprehend how this can only be an unpaid side hustle. The stuff you know, and how you present it… it’s outstanding! Thank you very much again!

  3. I think Evenepoel can take the overall if he goes for one of his trademark long-range, solo attacks. He doesn’t have the team, it seems, so he’ll have to do it himself. Hope he tries.

    • Seems like robmd did! Will Jerome Pinot now claim Jorgenson was using a motorized wheel as he did with Sepp Kuss? What about the pasty Dane over in Italy? Visma’s gotta be happy, a nice way to arrive at the start of the real racing season, no?

  4. So Jorgenson joins Jumbo and promptly wins Paris-Nice. Menawhile Roglic who at Jumbo won every week-long stage race at will, after leaving finishes 10th. Would like to have any explanation for this.

    • Jorgenson was clearly already progressing well at Movistar as evidenced by his strong performance at the Tour. Roglic is 34 so probably past his best (although he came to top level of cycling relatively late so maybe that doesn’t apply quite as much). His sole focus this year is the Tour so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was taking a slower, more old school approach to his build up to July.

      • McNulty was probably going to have problems hanging on as he struggled on Saturday, but Jorgenson has worked a lot extra with training, nutrition and even paying for his own equipment. In 2022 he did the Tour and it took until December to fully recover he has said, so a motivated, determined young man is reaping the benefits of his hard work. Moving to Visma has obviously helped.
        Remco did what was expected but it will be interesting to see how he does with longer climbs and warmer weather.
        Roglic & Bora have to be glad for Vlasov’s performance, (and Hindley’s in Italy) but it seems that they need to get that extra 10% or so to be GT contenders.

    • Historically, when one team has dominated, I don’t think it has ever turned out to be innocent, and I have no expectations that it is this time, but who knows? Jorgenson was already a promising rider and Roglic could be saving himself for the TdF, as others say, but it’s not just about these two riders: this team is massively dominant. But in the absence of proof, what can you do? With Sky, we had to wait until the trickle of information became a torrent – but still nothing was done, and still some fervently force their heads further into the sand. I very much doubt that Jerome Pineau is right, though: using motors seems so much more likely to result in capture than more traditional methods.
      There will always be these doubts – I mostly ignore them and enjoy the racing.

      • It just gets more and more blatant. I would give Jorgenson the benefit of the doubt but this is another salto di qualita for a rider who joins Jumbo. I just don’t buy it. The list is endless – they even turned Tratnik into a dominant classics rider at the tender age of 34. But at the same time someone above stated that Roglic at this age is past his best although a few months ago he was in the top 3 stage racers in the world and the most dominant one-week stage racer. Now he finishes 10th in Paris – Nice with a 5 minut time gap. His worst position in a stage race since Tirreno 2018 (not counting Paris – Nice 2021 where he suffered multiple crashes in he last stage while being in the lead). And please don’t come up with bollocks that he came up with a different approach to the season this year. Surely not, otherwise he would not have added the Ardennes to his programme. It is just ridiculous to watch but nobody cares anymore.

        • Just for the sake of argument, if Roglic got “the good stuff” while at Jumbo, why wouldn’t he continue with his winning “special protocol” at another team? If the good stuff was a secret magic potion and he didn’t know what it was, it seems like it would be pretty easy to keep a small sample and then have a friend of a friend who knows a guy who knows a guy do some lab analysis to figure out the main ingredients.

          I understand the opposite situation better, where a good rider moves to a new team and suddenly becomes a winner and GC contender.

          Until there’s actual reasonable proof untoward things are happening, I’ll just enjoy the racing.

          Finally, I’ll add my appreciation to our host. This blog is top-notch in every respect, including the quality comments from very knowledgeable and thoughtful group of commenters.

          • Because it’s all just conspiracy theory stuff and no J Evan’s, you don’t mostly ignore them, you bring it up pretty frequently.

          • Is this – once again posting as Anonymous, and solely to insult others – the poster formerly known as RonDe? Or are you just accurately reproducing his bitter pointlessness?

          • Just for the sake of the argument, not related to current circumstances in cycling, but rather in historical terms, it’s not been often about a “special product” (and, even was it so, knowing “the molecules” wouldn’t be enough without dosing, protocols, timing etc., which you may not know as a rider because you’re being given just generic pills / drinks / infusions), as much as about degrees of freedom while you apply a given set of techniques. Even the very same doctor could offer different degrees of risk/performance combinations, imagine the sheer impact of different “team cultures” or “team policies” on the subject…

          • @Gabriele yes, your comment reminds me of what Ullrich disclosed recently, that he was offered a traffic light menu of medical programmes and he opted for the Green (ie lightest, safest) option and it was still like rocket fuel to his recovery and performance. What we never hear about but which must surely happen is riders having a bad experience or health scare and deciding to opt out of or reduce their usage going forward. Might explain some fluctuations season to season and contract to contract, perhaps especially more so with star riders towards the end of their careers when they have less to prove.

          • Because “the secret sauce” requires a lot of monitoring and input by educated and specialist physiologists, if the athlete wants to be sure to avoid getting caught.

          • Oh, and obviously: Those specialist physiologists (whether they have a sports physiology science background, or a medical background) are very few in number, and also quite expensive.

            Move to a lower level team and even if you have the money, you may no longer have access to the physiologist you had before, nor to another (and it may take time to develop a good working relationshop with a new one; both in terms of the physiologist learning the body and responses of the athlete, and the athlete being able to fully trust the physiologist).

        • “And please don’t come up with bollocks that he came up with a different approach to the season this year.”
          Guess we’ll have to wait until July to find out if he’s doing something different from his previous team’s program. Hard-to-believe any “secret sauce” would be limited to his former team and he didn’t get old from the end of last season to now, so how can you explain it other than a change of program? And let’s not forget, the real racing season hasn’t even started yet IMHO.

          • Just my admittedly not very scientific observation that riders generally seem to decline after 33/34. I didn’t think that was controversial. Obviously there are outliers and exceptions, some of which are questionable and some of which can be explained by circumstances, luck, tactics etc.

          • “Just my admittedly not very scientific observation that riders generally seem to decline after 33/34.”

            Across the peloton the decline tends to start sooner. In recent decades the most productive years have been ages 26-28, with definite but gradual declines to about 31/32, then quite steep drops. Further, the pattern of elite riders who go from repeatedly winning tours and grand tours, to “suddenly” struggling to dominate is something we’ve often seen. To state an obvious fact, it’s the norm. Age and wear-and-team catches up to everyone.

            Shifting gears, I think discounting the changes in Roglic’s program is easy to do from behind a keyboard, but surely dramatically underestimates the magnitude of what he’s dealing with. In the winner’s interviews at PN, Jorgenson was asked about what changed for him in going from Movistar to VLAB – he thought for a moment, seemingly trying to come up with a succinct answer, and then said (from memory) “Everything… Every single detail,” and later said the team wasn’t doing anything other teams weren’t doing but cited the attention to detail in nutrition, travel, management, and the philosophy of doing “every single detail to the max.” Evenepoel also said in his interview that it was really up to the team and coaches to make sure he’s as ready as he can be for the Tour.

            There’s obviously a history of certain teams doing doping programs to gain an advantage over other teams, but there’s also a history of cycling teams ignoring substantial, legitimate low-hanging fruit (or not being able to afford the means to do all the little things). We see in other team sports that some coaching staffs and management systems consistently win, even as their rosters change, while other coaches/systems squander talent. It’s a little lazy to imagine that the ‘secret sauce’ of these winning teams is down to PEDs, or that an individual star can leave an optimized system and maintain all the advantages of that system on their own while on a new team that doesn’t operate the same way.

          • Kevin K. What you’ve said there is everything Sky and British Cycling said 10-15 years ago. If you were writing this post in 2010, off the back of years of only looking at doping and ignoring everything else then I’d agree with you.
            But we’re more likely in a position where Sky took advantage of the situation described above and then everyone else copied them to close the gap, and then Visma have leapt in front again.

          • Has everyone else closed the gap though?
            Certainly some elements of Sky’s “marginal gains” (or those which followed from other teams) have become standard practice, like post-race cool downs, or ice vests on hot days etc…

            But then you’ve got Jorgenson, to use an obvious example, using his own salary to pay for one-man altitude camps, motopacing and bike fits…so clearly Movistar haven’t closed all the gaps.
            You’ve got some teams that obviously don’t have the budget to replicate every marginal gain for every rider – some of them are simply putting all of their energies into surviving.
            Then you’ve got teams like UAE who for all their money can’t get the riders to work for each other!

            That’s not to exonerate Visma or anybody else of all suspicions, but there’s definitely plenty of gaps still to exploit in the cycling marketplace.

          • To borrow from Nicolas Taleb, there are among various things that are “known knows” team budgets; and some things are “known unknowns”, we know doping can occur but it is unknown who is doing it.

            One thing we do know is there is a massive difference moving from Movistar to Visma, we don’t have the precise numbers but team budgets are vastly different, Movistar have told the Spanish media the budget is around €20 million, Visma could well be double this. While some goes on the roster, a lot goes on other things such as support.

            One titbit, not to name any one team but there’s at least one that books riders on the budget flights and it might save, say €50 per rider per segment putting them on the cheapest early morning flight or the very last flight of the day. But if the rider has to be up at 3.30am to get the flight or they get back home at 1.00am then the cash saving is real but a false economy when it comes to being able to train and race. It annoys their riders… it might even put off some from signing with the team in which case it can be doubly expensive.

          • “Kevin K. What you’ve said there is everything Sky and British Cycling said 10-15 years ago. . .
            But we’re more likely in a position where Sky took advantage of the situation described above and then everyone else copied them to close the gap, and then Visma have leapt in front again.”

            Why not just go for the ultimate argument – Lance claimed his dominance was all down to superior prep and training, and so anyone, ever, who makes such are argument must, absolutely must, be lying as LA was. This is silly.

            As Inring pointed out, there is a world of difference in the way Movistar is run and VLaB is run. In the case of Jorgenson, he’s at an age where traditionally riders steadily improve. He made significant improvements in every year since joining Movistar, from ages 20-24, and last year showed himself capable of competing at a very high level (second at Romandie, winning Oman, 9th at Flanders) despite the Keystone Kops approach that makes Movistar so endearing. Now with VLaB, riding on his home roads, everything broke just right for him. He hardly dominated, but did paid off the potential he’s been increasingly showing.

      • I think the least you can say about Jumbo-Visma/Visma Lease-a-bike is that they know something the other teams do not. What that is obviously we don’t know, and we don’t know whether it is illegal now or will be in the future. But riders join them and improve a lot.

        Maybe we should just be thankful Van der Poel and Pogacar don’t ride for them. Or just be thankful that they exist as some sort of effective opposition to those two.

        • It’s pineapple juice, or beetroot juice, or mattresses, or warming up, or warming down, or something like that. Any one of a number of things that more than a few riders already knew about and were doing back in the 80s, if not the 60s.

    • Another day, another decent rider turns up to Jumbo Visma and starts winning (I think in scientific journals its known as The Laporte Effect). I’m starting to think even I could make at least a solid domestique if only I could be bothered to go to their training camp.

      • Obviously this is always going to be endless debate and arguing etc etc but as someone who watches a huge amount of cycling, like many others here, I did not find this result suspicious whatsoever?

        Jorgenson was excellent at Paris Nice last year only climbing/leading the group behind Pogacar on the final stage, that he’s stepped up this year is entirely predictable with a better team, support and confidence? It was also they way the race panned out that he was able to race the way he did to win rather than an all out attack that dropped other riders by minutes which would have been suspicious.

        As for Roglic – earlier in his career he showed that he suffers over three wks if his form is too good at the beginning, and so adjusted his build ups to not peak too soon as he’s gone on. With his goals being so far away it makes perfect sense he’d be riding slightly below his best right now and as others mention (although I’m less convinced) his age might also have something to do with it.

        I really don’t think there are any red flags here whatsoever?

        It will always be the conversation in cycling about cheating but I’m personally not suspicious of Visma whatsoever currently and think there are as many legal ways they could be consistently this good as there are illegal ways and from my perspective it’s as much about talented riders wanting to join their culture of winning and them being excellent in identifying who will thrive in it as it is anything else. People seem to forget how many near missing and tactical blunders they made in the build up to their golden two years we’ve just witnessed.

        • I count myself as being a lot more cynical than oldDave seems to be, but I’m in full agreement here – there are definitely some things about Visma to be suspicious about IMO, but Jorgenson winning Paris-Nice isn’t one of them…

          First of all, Jorgenson isn’t some out of the blue discovery – he’s got multiple stage race and one-day top tens to his name from his years at Movistar, including a win at Oman & 2nd at Romandie. He was a talented junior (l’avenir stage & points classification winner) and has been visibly improving for a couple of years (remember him coming close on Puy de Dome in last year’s TdF)…Visma have recruited well, and signed him just as he’s coming into his very-talented prime…

          You’ve then got an unusually tactical race…on the topic of Roglic, remember he lost a bunch of time in the TTT. He seemed to then attack for the hell of it on la Colle Sur Loup, and with Remco marking him, Jorgenson was able to ride away and gain almost a minute on them both…

          I think it’s clear that Roglic wasn’t on top form, but I can’t imagine he continued to ride at 100% effort all the way to the finish line in Nice, so I don’t his 10th overall really reflects his condition.

          Likewise, I think it’s clear that Remco wasn’t on top form either…until the final day his attacks weren’t really dropping anybody, and so he made an agreement with Jorgenson that suited them both and they rode in together…

          A great win for Jorgenson, and well deserved as he looked v strong, but it’s not like he just demolished the field.

        • I wonder if we had the same debate if Remco just crushed every other rider like they were amateurs, but all of a sudden, if he loses to Jorgenson, eyebrows are going up cause the later must be on some program?
          Why can’t see the eyebrows if a cyclist turned footballer kid crushes his opponents?
          Maybe he’s that good cause he fell into a cauldron of the Gauls’ magic potion when he was a baby like Obelix, aka “pure talent”

          • And just to be clear, I also suspect Visma to have some secret sauce, I just don’t think that Jorgenson winning a 1 week stage race is a strong proof for that.
            The whole weather situation a the TTT changed a lot for some favorites like Roglic and if he didn’t feel that good the following days, why trying? We’ll see what his form is in real races, he doesn’t need to destroy the peloton in freaking March like all the young guns to prove a point.

        • Thanks oldDave. You hit it on the head for me. I’m just sitting back and enjoying the show. I also think/hope primoz is doing a slower build up to the tour, getting used to the new team. That has worked for plenty of former tour winners at his age. As for Visma, there’s not even a credible rumour that can be pinned on them at this stage. Speculation is futile and sounds more like sour grapes at this point.

      • Really Richard S? Really? I’m no fan of the team with roots back in the bad-old-daze of Rabobank but I won’t go that far. There’s a “secret-sauce” that could enable YOU to keep up with the pro peloton? THAT could only be a motor IMHO…so over to Jerome Pineau….:-)
        OTOH, I wonder if you did a dopers-per-capita in the pro peloton survey of the past 3 decades, would USA be #1? Or maybe Denmark? Waiting for some number-cruncher to weigh in…

  5. @ Climber. I think we all care about our sport and its future, but there is no proof of any wrongdoing at present. Until such time as something is proven, we should maybe keep any suspicions to ourselves. I do understand concerns after all that has gone before, but speculation helps no one. J. Evans last sentence is probably sums up the best attitude. We have been provided with some fantastic, aggressive racing so far this season. Long may it continue.

    • +1

      suspicion without proof or very highly knowledgeable skill/journalism is extremely dull speculation and ends up reminding you of a cultish mentality where there’s a ‘but what about this!’ around every corner with little to back it up no matter what you say.

  6. Stuck inside yesterday so watched most of both P-N and T-A. On the P-N side I’m going to remember this day the next time someone goes on about how Italian TV pictures are compromised by bad weather while French ones are not. I saw plenty of “picture breakup” (as they call it) followed by an image of mountains rather than the Italian-style of showing the race finish line where nothing is happening.
    Either way, something’s not working in inclement weather and seems to have nothing to do with nationality or location.

    • Ha – yeah, but Italian pictures in the last five years have far more regularly struggled to beam out than French, I can remember multiple races I’ve struggled watching in Italy in that time frame and almost no French. Happy to be proved wrong.

      Also happy to say, I do not know how tv pictures are even beamed out to satellites through the air to my tv so until I have a vague idea about the marvels of technology wouldn’t dream to complain about the luxury we live in.

      • Don’t think it can be “proved” either way though I’d say the two most popular races for fans to watch/stream are the Giro and Tour….and the former, being early in the season certainly has more inclement weather to deal with – so colors your “remembering” when it comes to broadcast failures?
        And I’m old enough to remember when you couldn’t even find the Giro d’Italia on French TV…even when it finished in a place like Briancon!

      • Note that for some years now (three at least, I think) it’s the same company and team producing them. So, if there’s some difference, or not, it’s up to the terrain and other technical challenges…

        • EMG? So all the “difference” between LeTour and Il Giro TV quality is down to stereotypes of Italian incompetence vs French wizardry? Someone like Shill Phiggett might frame it that way but the rest of those why make these claims? Say it ain’t so:-)

          • The TV production has changed. RAI used to do it in house but we saw the problems with the air link when it was very cloudy or wet, or especially both. Now they use Euro Media since 2022 which offers better technology, they do the filming/producing with RAI still hosting.

  7. Hard to know how much you can read into 100 km stages but Jorgensen really did seem to have Evenopoel covered … and then some on the descents.

    • Said it here before but I’m convinced both Pidcock and Remco are not going to deliver the careers people expect of them.

      Both are still brilliant riders, and Remco is a league above Pidcock, but as it stands neither seem to me to have the weapons necessary to rule at the top without a lot of luck.

      Remco will win huge amounts and be a great, but delivering repeated Tour De France’s I feel like will be beyond him, as I cannot see him climbing repeatedly with the best (Pog&Rog and soon others) and I’ve thought for a long time he loses his head too easily and that effects his energy management and tactics. Maybe one TDF will come and be hugely deserved but similar to Roglic (if he ever wins) or Geraint Thomas he’ll need everything to go right to win and a few crashes from competitors. I think Cian U is a far better bet for Belgian prospects.

      Pidcock currently has shown almost no evidence he can compete for GC in a one week race let alone three weeks, so I think the TDF win for him isn’t even in the conversation, and his ability to drop people/stay with the best consistently on climbs or sit and wait for a sprint in the one day races isn’t impressive enough for him to win repeatedly like the best. Similarly to Remco sure he’ll take some great wins in his career, but more like a Kwiato or Dan Martin rather than a MVDP.

      It also gets harder and harder with people like Del Toro coming through.

      For me Isaac Del Toro coming 4th in Tirreno against the level of competition there is the story of the week… if he progresses to be able to hit the climbing numbers V/P can he’s shaping up to be a really terrifying force.

  8. By the way thanks for the excellent coverage INRNG, I enjoyed the postcards and race analysis as always. I enjoyed this edition of PN, not much fun for the riders but I enjoyed the murky weather dark clouds and rainbows aesthetic and beautiful scenery, plus an unexpected result and some surprises and upsets in the subplots. The result of stage 8 fell a bit flat for me because of the agreement between RE and MJ but that’s part of racing I guess.

    • Thanks for saying thanks. I wanted to do the postcards along the way because Paris-Nice is a real journey around France, “real” as in authentic. There’s the obvious north to south procession with the terrain and even the light changing but more than this is the places the race visits along the way and the vibe in March.

      It’s been mentioned here once before but there is a photography/cultural project called the Atlas des Régions Naturelles ( and it really captures the mood of these parts of rural France where bike races can go but few others do.

      On the piece about Nice and the service economy building up around riders these days, it was partly with Jorgenson in mind. He probably lives closest to La Colle-sur-Loup of all the pros and he’s said himself how he has been using his own salary to invest in massage, training and having also mentioned altitude training camps at Isola 2000, he’s done his time up there too.

      • Also want to say thanks for your incredible blog and these Postcards have been great. We toured out of Menton last July and rode a lot of what you mentioned, disappointed about Saturday’s reroute as we rode a good bit of that in reverse. Can see why the pro’s have gravitated there, amazing place to be for a cyclist.

  9. Question for the knowledgeable: Almost all the jerseys changed hand on the last day (all but white). Has there been a World Tour stage race (and if so when was the last one) when they all changed on the last day?

  10. wrote a long post that got lost…

    but the last point was – surprised Del Toro’s 4th in T-A isn’t being mentioned more.
    I think that’s an astounding result given the competition for such a young a rider.

    I know the hype train has left the station but I’m starting to wonder whether they might take him to the Tour? Previously I’ve thought UAE bought poorly with riders to support Pog, picking good riders who lacked consistency to be great domestiques (Soler) or didn’t use some riders well suited to being super domestiques to ride with Pog (Almeida/Vine)…

    But now they look like they might have an extremely formidable team to ride with Pog this year if it’s:
    Pogacar, Ayuso, Yates, Del Toro, Wellens, McNulty, Politt, Berg…

    Even Sivakov coming in for Del Toro, or Hirschi/Grobschatner swapping in for either Politt or Berg isn’t going to weaken them dramatically. It’s extremely impressive who they can call on this year. Not to even mention Majka.

    • The kid was really amazing. Seeing your list of a potential UAE TdF/Giro team makes one wonder how Quickstep (or Bora) could compete.

      One wonders how Evenepoel is feeling about his support…

  11. I agree about avoiding pointless speculation, but I’m also very skeptical about a lot of poor explications which are being given (like “they’re doing all the details to the very best”) because they don’t work *that* well, plus have a bad history behind them (as somebody else also pointed out), and, at the end of the day, they strengthen as I read them the sensation that something strange *is really* happening if sooo much is needed from so many people to account for what we saw on the road…

    They don’t work because team culture would be curiously limited in time, and in some cases they look way to corresponding to economic-political cycle of sort. Remember that what’s now DSM once was the ultraperfectionist team, Sky of course, and ONCE back then. Decline or improvement are a part life both for individual athletes and teams, how broad and abrupt does change feel is what undermines the credibility of some stories.

    One of my fav “techxplications” is crank arm lengths… fluctuating so much in a few years time that we might now ask ourselves how fast would Froome climb with the right (i.e. shorter!) crank length, or the other way around. By the way, didn’t they all do a lot of research? And it’s a quite basic geometrical question, imagine that. Same for teeth on the big ring in ITTs and much more stuff which in a decade or less is proven to be quite futile when you discover that people had have free TUEs at hand or the likes (Manolo Saiz was the head of the UCI’s ethical commission LOL).

    However, this isn’t up to us at all, I think, when we’re speaking of current affairs. Everybody, IMHO, is perfectly entitled to hold a personal opinion on the potential hidden issues at Visma – whether something like that exists or not, to start with – but what’s the point in debating the subject when we can’t have a single solid element?

  12. Why is all the suspicion around VLAB? Why not Pogacar. Why not MvDP. For all VLAB’s suspicious habits why can’t they beat a clean rider like MvDP in the classics? Either they all dope are they mostly don’t. That’s the only logical conclusion and yet suddenly Ineos can’t afford the good dope?

    • Back in the day, a lot of riders showed marked improvement on moving to Mapei.
      Back in the day, a lot of riders showed marked improvement on moving to US Postal.
      Back in the day, a lot of riders showed marked improvement on moving to Sky.
      In the last few years, a lot of riders have shown marked improvement on moving to Visma.

      That’s why people are suspicious. It’s not proof, but you’d have to be, at least, a very optimistic type not to have any suspicion. But that’s all it is.

      As for the riders you mention, they have always been exceptional – they have not shown sudden improvement on moving to a certain team.

      You also mention Ineos. Perhaps given the team’s history, their riders are under greater scrutiny these days – or, at least, things are not quite as lax as they were in the ‘accidentally ordering PEDs, losing laptops and TUEs a-go-go’ days.

    • “For all VLAB’s suspicious habits why can’t they beat a clean rider like MvDP in the classics?”
      Makes me wonder about whatever the current “secret sauce” might be, does it work so much better in stage races vs one-day events, which would explain your question?
      Jerome Pinot’s claims are of course different – a motorized wheel’s gonna help you in ways “secret sauce” could never provide on any given day.
      But this is pro cycling now, thanks to a steady drip, drip, drip of doping scandals…any team that dominates gets these questions and doubts, especially when new guys come in and start winning almost instantly while guys who leave seem to win far less.
      Will the UCI get serious about the motor-doping stuff or just faff around like they did with blood “management” in the BigTex era?

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