On Sunday, the 72nd edition of Paris-Nice will start. The course differs from last years. The race doesn’t start with a prologue and there is no time trial during the week. There aren’t many tough climbs. The first three stages are pretty much flat. In the fourth and fifth stage there is each time a climb of second category at about 13 km from the end. It’s only on the sixth day that there is a climb of first category: the Col de Bourigaille. This is at a distance of 19 kilometers from the finish in Fayence, which is uphill. That climb was given category two. The penultimate stage has five climbs on the route, the last one is 64,5 kilometers from the finish. The final stage ends on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. That day the peloton will climb the Col d’Eze, with the top 15 kilometers before the end.
There’s going to be a nice peloton in this WorldTour race. Italian Vincezo Nibali has chosen not to ride Tirreno-Adriatico but to participate in the Race to the sun. Other riders that will travel to France are world champion Rui Costa, Carlos Betancur, John Degenkolb, Gianni Meersman and Tejay Van Garderen. The French public can cheer on their national champion Arthur Vichot, Nacer Bouhanni, Thomas Voeckler and of course Tony Galllopin. He wears the Lotto Belisol shirt. The team relies on him and Maxime Monfort to ride a good GC. Monfort already finished in the top ten twice.
Maxime Monfort: “This year a big part of my focus lies on the Giro and Vuelta. Paris-Nice is a goal in this first part of the season. Then I’ll further prepare myself on the Giro via the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Tour de Romandie. I won’t participate in any of the Ardennes classics. I want to ride a good season. That means that I want to get results on my level. I won’t put an exact place on it. In Giro and Vuelta I strive for a good GC and I also want to perform well in a series of WorldTour races, one of those is Paris-Nice.”
“I feel home at Lotto Belisol. After a long time I now ride again for a Belgian team and that has it benefits because I live in Belgium, but on the WorldTour level nationalities fade. For me it’s more about the sportive challenge. I have a clear goal. For two of the Grand Tours the team relies on me to set a strong result. I have a protected role now.”
Tony Gallopin: “Paris-Nice is an important goal for me this season. I have had a good preparation in the Etoile de Bessèges and Tour of Oman where I set a few good results. The course of Paris-Nice suits me. There is no long time trial or finish in the high mountains. Some stages are made for punchers and I can possibly play a role in those. Nibali and Van Garderen do indeed have a chance to win, but because of this year’s route it will be an open race with more contenders for the overall than usually. I expect a first selection in the stages on Wednesday and Friday. The stages next weekend will decide who gets the trophy. I want to show myself in the fourth and sixth stage. Friday evening I’ll see where I stand and know if a place in top ten is possible.”
“On Monday we pass the area where I live, we’ll even get at 15 kilometers of my home. Nice weather is predicted the next days. In that second stage the wind could otherwise play its role. Next to Maxime and I the team also brings Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens to Paris-Nice. We have many cards to play. The team has faith in me and gives me the space to optimally prepare myself in ideal circumstances for my goals. Paris-Nice is a first objective of me and I want to set a good result.”
Selection Lotto Belisol: Sander Armée, Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Tony Gallopin, Pim Ligthart, Maxime Monfort, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Marc Wauters.
Stage 1: Sunday 9th of March: Mantes-la-Jolie – Mantes-la-Jolie (162,5 km)
Stage 2 : Monday 10th of March: Rambouillet – Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche (205 km)
Stage 3: Tuesday 11th of March: Toucy – Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours (180 km)
Stage 4: Wednesday 12th of March: Nevers – Belleville (201,5 km)
Stage 5: Thursday 13th of March: Crêches-sur-Saône – Rive-de-Gier (153 km)
Stage 6 : Friday 14th of March: Saint-Saturnin-lès-Avignon – Fayence (221,5 km)
Stage 7: Saturday 15th of March: Mougins – Biot Sophia Antipolis (195,5 km)
Stage 8: Sunday 16th of March: Nice – Nice (128 km)