The Race to the Sun: Paris-Nice
Find out what all the fuss is about as the Paris-Nice peloton heads for the sunny south of France
The week long Paris-Nice stage race is one of the most exciting and interesting races to watch in the Pro season. Heading from the relatively cold north-western outskirts of Paris and making its way fairly directly to the sunny south of France, the race is called ‘The Race to the Sun’ and it more often than not lives up to that name.
This race is a really great one to watch for anyone who has not already caught the Pro-cycling bug or has never indulged in stage races.
It is much shorter than the Grand Tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana) but has just as much drama, if not more. It feels like a mini-Tour, with sprint stages towards the front end of the race, a bit of time trialing and also race defining mountain stages. The GC is almost always contested by what you could call ‘true stage race GC riders’, rather than seeing sprinters or strong domestiques topping the leader board. This is partly due to the big mountains the race often passes over and also the importance of the race in terms of season goals. Although not always utilizing the most famous or devastatingly tough climbs that France has to offer the organizers find much more interesting climbs that can have a real impact on the race and as such each stage is vitally important. Paris-Nice is also a great testing ground for early season form as perfectly exhibited by Bradley Wiggins in 2012 who went on to win Le Tour, Tour de Romandie, the Criterium de Dauphine and the Olympic time trial.
The race is already under way and today sees the riders leave Vimory heading 201km to Cerilly in stage 2 which is flat and fast. The opening day’s short prologue TT was won by Europecar’s Damien Gaudin for his first professional win but his lead on GC was short-lived after Nacer Bouhanni won a bunch sprint into Nemours yesterday.
You can check out a video of the final riders in the prologue here and the final 5km from stage 1 here courtesy of steephill.tv and Eurosport. There is still lots of great racing to watch this week and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.