Paris - Nice 2016

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2016 Paris-Nice overview

The 74th edition of Paris-Nice, running from March 6-13, is the second WorldTour event of the year after January’s Tour Down Under and many top riders - Classics and Grand Tour specialists alike - will be laying down foundations for coming weeks and months.

Recent winners Alberto Contador and Richie Porte, with two wins each to their name, spearhead the GC challengers for 2016 while Astana's Luis Leon Sanchez is the third former winner on the start line. Romain Bardet, Tom Dumoulin and Simon Yates represent the new generation of GC riders while Lampre-Merida's Louis Meintjes is another rider capable of finishing on the podium.

It's not just about the GC men though, with Marcel Kittel, Nacer Bouhanni, Alexander Kristoff and Michael Matthews sure to mix it up in the sprint stages. Adding to the depth of the field in 2016 are several classics riders in Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep), Lars Boom (Astana) with several of the top WorldTour riders opting for the French race over its Italian counterpart Tirreno-Adriatico this season.

The race's seven stages, as the name suggests, trace a fairly direct path from the French capital in the north down to southern coast and it is often referred to as ‘the race to the sun’ given the comparatively clement conditions in Nice.

A 6.1km prologue in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, which will be the only race against the clock in the 2016 edition in the absence of the Col d’Eze time trial, gets the race underway on Sunday. The first road stage features gravel roads but should be one for the sprinters, who should also be fighting for the win on the following day in Commendry and – after the puncheurs come to the fore on the Mont Brouilly finish on stage 3 – again on stage 4 to Romans-sur-Isere.

The general classification will then begin in earnest, with the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux to be scaled halfway through stage 5 and seven categorised cimbs featuring the following day, the last being the first-cat summit finish to La Madonne d’Utelle. That should do the most to shape the GC, but there are still hills to be tackled on the final stage before the finish in Nice, with the Col d’Eze poised 15km from the line and as such a perfect launchpad for those looking to claw back some seconds.

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