Paris-Nice will tackle the Turini Pass for the first time in its history this year. The route of the 2019 edition of the race was unveiled on Wednesday, and organiser ASO also confirmed an all-French list of wildcard invitations for the event, which takes place from March 10-17.
Rather than the usual four wildcards, ASO have handed out five invitations on this occasion, with Cofidis, Delko Marseille Provence, Direct Energie, Team Arkea-Samsic and Vital Concept-B&B Hotels all joining the 18 WorldTour teams at the eight-day race. WorldTour races are limited to a peloton of 176 riders so, in theory, the organisers could invite up to 25 seven-rider teams.
The Turini Pass has never previously featured in the Race to the Sun but has appeared in the Tour de France on three occasions, in 1948, 1950 and 1973. The climb will come on a potentially decisive penultimate stage with its twisting road set to test the overall contenders. Louison Bobet, Jean Robic and Vicente Lopez Carril have all led over the climb on the Tour.
While cycling has graced the climb just fleetingly in the past, it is synonymous with four wheels rather than two. The 15km, 1607m high, ascent is the scene of one of the most iconic stages of the Monte Carlo Rally, which is often contested at night.
The 181.5km stage 7 will begin in Nice and takes on a total of six climbs. The category 1 Cote de Pelasque is the penultimate ascent, before the summit finish on the Turini.
Paris-Nice concludes the following day with a short but demanding 110km leg around Nice, which features six climbs, including the Col d’Èze and Col des Quatre Chemins just ahead of the finish on the Promenade des Anglais.
Before that mountainous finale, the first major test for the general classification riders will be the stage 5 time trial. The 25.5km test in Barbentane is predominantly flat but it includes one climb in the second half of the route and a short rise to the finish line
The race will start in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the northwest suburbs of Paris on March 10. The opening stage will be an out and back affair and should be an opportunity for the sprinters. The two following stages from Les Bréviaires to Bellegarde (163km) and Cepoy to Moulins/Yzeure (200km) respectively, should also be prime opportunities for the fast men.
The 176.5km stage 6 from Peynier to Brignoles could off them another chance, though the three climbs in the final 60k ought to reduce the size of the peloton. Meanwhile, the rolling stage 4 from Vichy to Pélussin is the longest of the race at 210 and could see the breakaway find success.
Stage 1: Sunday, March 10th - Saint-Germain-en-Laye - Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 138,5 km
Stage 2: Monday, March 11th - Les Bréviaires - Bellegarde, 163,5 km
Stage 3: Tuesday, March 12th - Cepoy - Moulins/Yzeure, 200 km
Stage 4: Wednesday, March 13th - Vichy - Pélussin, 210,5 km
Stage 5: Thursday, March 14th - Barbentane - Barbentane, 25,5 km (Time trial)
Stage 6: Friday, March 15th - Peynier - Brignoles, 176,5 km
Stage 7: Saturday, March 16th - Nice - Col de Turini La Bollène-Vésubie, 181,5 km
Stage 8: Sunday, March 17th - Nice - Nice, 110 km