'The Race to the Sun' may not always quite live up to its name, happening as this French stage race does in Europe in March each year, but it does herald thoughts of the sunny, summer stage-racing that lie ahead.
Well, that's usually the case, but the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic meant that Paris-Nice could be the last race for some time in 2020. The eight-day race was itself reduced to seven as a result of the ever-worsening situation, as sports events around the world were cancelled during the week.
This year, the race was action-packed, with decisive moments coming on the flat and in the hills, as wind and the gradients took their toll on the GC hopefuls.
Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) took the race lead after winning on day one. The German attacked along with Dylan Teuns late on to catch Alaphilippe and Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb) before winning the sprint for victory.
Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) sprinted to victory on stage 2, while Quintana and Alaphilippe lost a chunk of time due to mechanicals at inopportune times.
A quieter stage 3 saw Iván García Cortina (Bahrain-McLaren) win the uphill sprint, while Schachmann only increased his GC lead on the stage 4 time trial in Saint-Amant-Montrond. He was beaten to stage victory, though, by Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb).
Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Énergie) triumphed on stage 5, as the charging peloton caught breakaway rider Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-McLaren) metres from the line.
The GC battle came back to life on stage 6, where Benoot's late attack capped off a very active day for the Dutch squad. The Belgian won in Apt ahead of an elite chase group, while Schachmann crashed but could rely on the 3km rule to grab back the lost time.
The grand finale came on the summit finish at Valdeblore La Colmiane. Quintana jumped away from an ever-thinning lead group to pass breakaway man Thomas De Gendy and seal a decisive win on what could be the final day of racing for some time.
Schachmann, still in the race lead, defended admirably to hold on to yellow through to the finish, while Benoot's late attack showed what top form he had. Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling), who rode surprisingly well in the crosswinds early on, rounded off the podium.
Paris-Nice 20208 March 2020 - 15 March 2020 | Paris | WorldTour
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