Race organisers ASO have confirmed the route for this year’s Paris-Nice at a press conference held in Versailles. After a race without time trials in 2014, this year's event is bookended by stages against the clock. The race begins in Maurepas on March 8 with a short 6.7 kilometre time trial, and ends with a second individual time trial up the Col d’Èze.
After departing from Maurepas, the Paris-Nice peloton heads to Sain-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse for the start of stage one. The 192-kilometre stage, which finishes in Contres, is an opportunity for the sprinters to get one on the board with the finale on a one-kilometre straight. Beware of the animals on day two, as the stage sets off from the ZooParc de Beauval just north of the commune of Châteauvieux. The peloton will also have to mindful of crosswinds as they head 172 kilometres south to Saint-Amand-Montrond.
There will be an overnight stay in the picturesque town, with stage three setting off from there the following morning. It finishes in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, with a final loop of 20 kilometres, and is one of the last opportunities for the sprinters to notch up a victory.
Stage four sees Paris-Nice enter the mountains. At 204 kilometres, it is the longest of the race and features no fewer than eight classified climbs and includes the summit finish on the Croix de Chaubouret – a 10-kilometre long climb that averages 6.7 per cent.
On stage five, the riders will set off from Saint-Étienne, winding their way 192 kilometres over the climb of the Col de la République before finishing in Rasteau. The 17 kilometre climb averages 3.6 per cent and was the first 1,000-metre col to feature in the Tour de France in the race’s inaugural edition.
The penultimate day is another mountainous affair with six cols – three of them first category – for the peloton to conquer. The stage begins in Vence and sends the riders straight onto the first category Col de Vence. It ends with a further two category one ascents, the Col Saint-Roch and the Côte de Peille, before a lengthy descent towards Nice.
Bringing the race to a close will be a 9.6-kilometer time trial on the Col d’Èze, the race’s traditional closer. The race last went up the climb in 2013 where Richie Porte beat Andrew Talansky en route to the overall classification.
ASO have already released the names of the teams that would take part in the race, in January, with Cofidis, Bretagne Séché-Environment and Europcar joining the 17 WorldTour teams. The 2015 edition of Paris-Nice takes place between March 8 and 15.