"Race to the sun" takes shape
While Paris-Nice organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) has not yet revealed the road map of next season's Paris-Nice, French websites are speculating about probable start and finish locations. According to cycling news website Cyclism'Actu, the "Race to the sun" planned to take place from March 6-13, may include a second individual time trial in Aix-en-Provence mid-race, after the first traditional prologue, which will probably be held in Houdan, west of Paris.
Blog website Paris.Thover has assembled more information. According to this specialist in tracking down future race courses, stage one on March 7 will start in Monfort-l'Amaury and finish in Amilly, where Paris-Nice had a start in 2009. A 20km circuit course around Amilly, to be raced three times before the finish, is also said to be on the menu.
Stage two is rumoured to be set to run between Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire and Nuits-Saint-Georges, offering good opportunities for breakaways. The following day is rumoured to see the first mountain test on a stage starting in Crêches-sur-Saône and finishing in Belleville: the Col du Fût d'Avenas, a 6km climb averaging 4.7 percent gradient (10.1 max.), is set to warm up the climbers' legs for the challenges coming up on the Côte d'Azur.
But before reaching the Mediterranean coastal mountains, the bunch may stop in Aix-en-Provence for a time trial, which would be unusual for Paris-Nice. If true, it may be the attempt of the organiser to balance out the course and attract more high-profile stage race riders.
While the organiser has given no information about stages four and five, the penultimate day will see the field start out in Brignoles to finish in Biot. The final stage will be the now traditional loop around Nice, and will again include the Col de La Turbie and the legendary Col d'Eze, before the race finale on the Promenade des Anglais.