The finally balanced race route always shows who is on form and often reveals some fascinating tactical weaknesses.
As this year's race nears, we review how Paris-Nice was won since 2001.
2001 - Col d'Eze time trial (Stage 6)
This was the last time that the traditional uphill time trial in Col d'Eze ran as the penultimate stage. Dario Frigo used it to win overall, unseating Belgian Peter Van Petegem on the 10 kilometre-long climb from Nice. The race continues to use a portion of the ascent as the crux of the final stage, with riders heading up 4.3km to the Col d'Eze before plunging to the finish in Nice.
2002 - Mont Faron (Stage 4)
Alexandre Vinokourov claimed victory on Mont Faron, 28 seconds ahead of Laurent Jalabert, to deprive Didier Rous of the race lead. Rous had no answer when Jalabert attacked at the base of Mont Faron. Vinokourov, together with the late Andrei Kivilev, was able to match the Frenchman before Vino put in his stage-winning move. A strong ride on the Col d'Eze on stage 6 cemented Vinokourov's first Paris-Nice victory.
2003 - Mont Faron (Stage 5)
Vinokourov used his good form and a huge burst of emotion to unseat Dario Frigo on the slopes of Mont Faron. Fighting the tremendous grief of losing his close friend Kivilev in a crash on stage two, Vinokourov not only continued the race, but dominated the critical stage, storming out of the lead chasing group and past Laurent Brochard on the final pitch to Mont Faron. It was his second Paris-Nice title.
2004 - Vanves TT (Stage 1)
Jörg Jaksche won the 13km time trial on the first day, and with only a four second lead over Davide Rebellin, his overall win seemed only a remote possibility. However, with cunning strategy from CSC director Bjarne Riis, Jaksche was able to increase his advantage on the next day during what should have been a sprinter's stage. CSC put all eight men into the front echelon to open significant gaps to all of the race favourites. Jaksche carved out a few more seconds on Rebellin over the course of the week to claim his career's biggest win.
2005 - Mont Faron (Stage 5)
Sometimes overall victory in a stage race is secured without a rider also taking a stage victory. In 2005 that was the case for Bobby Julich, who quietly rode into the Paris-Nice lead behind stage winner Gilberto Simoni on Mont Faron. Julich's race winning move came the day before to Montélimar, when he wisely followed an attack by Fassa Bortolo's rising star, Fabian Cancellara. Consistent performances and strong support from his CSC team gave the American his best result since his podium at the 1998 Tour de France.
2006 - St-Etienne (Stage 3)
After an attack on the Col de la Croix-de-Chaubouret (10km at 6.5 per cent) Patxi Vila captured the stage and Floyd Landis laid the foundation for overall victory. The American had won the Tour of California a few weeks before and so completed an early-season double.
2007 - Nice (Stage 7)
On the last climb of the stage over the Col d'Eze, Alberto Contador dropped race leader Davide Rebellin and blasted to the finish in Nice to win both the final stage and the overall classification. Rebellin finished 26 seconds. It was a breakthrough victory for Contador and he went on to win his first Tour de France that summer.
2008 - Cannes (Stage 6)
Surprisingly the stage finish on the slopes of Mont Ventoux wasn't the key moment of this year’s race. Robert Gesink won the stage and took the yellow jersey but then lost it two days after. Rebellin made up for his defeat in 2007 by joining the decisive attack on the descent of the Col de Tanneron to Cannes. Gesink lost 1:29 and Rebellin went on to finally win Paris-Nice.
2009 - Fayence (Stage 6)
Race leader Alberto Contador lost three minutes when he forgot to eat and cracked on twisting stage six to Fayence. His mistake revealed a lack of experience and was one of the first sparks in the Spaniard’s war of words with Lance Armstrong. Luis Leon Sanchez took advantage of Contador’s weakness to take the overall race lead and win Paris-Nice by a minute. Frank Schleck finished second, with early race leader Sylvain Chavanel third at 1:09.
2010- Mende (Stage 4)
As expected, the steep Montee Jalabert climb up to the finish above Mende was the decisive stage of the race. Contador dropped Alejandro Valverde and the rest of the peloton to win on the 10% climb and took the yellow jersey from Jens Voigt. Contador went on to win overall ahead of Valverde, although Valverde was later cancelled from the official results after his ban for doping was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.