Race organizers ASO have unveiled the route for this year’s Paris-Nice, with the weeklong stage race going through the Massif Central via Limoges and Mende before the traditional finish in Nice.
The 68th edition of ‘The Race to the Sun’ starts with an eight-kilometre prologue in Montfort-l’Amaury, west of Paris on Sunday March 7 and ends in Nice with a hilly 199km road stage on Sunday March 14.
Race director Christian Prudhomme believes the race will be decided by a few seconds but the route includes some serious climbs, although there is no Mont Ventoux finish this year.
Stage four to Mende finishes on the plateau overlooking the town, the same approach where Laurent Jalabert won a Tour de France stage on Basitlle Day in 1995 and Spain’s Marcos Serrano won in 2005. The climb to the finish is only four kilometres long but has section as 15%.
Stage six from Peynier to Tourrettes-sur-Loup is 22km long and includes the 963m high Col de Vence just 30km from the finish.
Stage seven around Nice is only 119km long but goes over the Col de la Porte, La Turbie and the Col d’Eze before the high-speed descent to the finish on the Promenade des Anglais.
Possible overall contenders include Alberto Contador (Astana), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), who was second to Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) in 2009, Olympic gold medalist Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma).
2010 Paris-Nice stages:
March 7: Prologue: Montfort-l'Amaury 8 km
March 8: Stage 1: Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines – Contres 201.5 km
March 9: Stage 3: Contres – Limoges 203.5 km
March 10: Stage 4: Saint-Junien - Aurillac 208 km
March 11: Stage 5: Maurs-la-Jolie (Cantal) - Mende 172 km
March 12: Stage 6: Pernes-les-Fontaines - Aix-en-Provence 153.5 km
March 13: Stage 7 Peynier - Tourrettes-sur-Loup 220 km
March 14: Stage 8: Nice-Nice 119km.