MID-RACE SUMMIT FINISH COULD DECIDE PARIS-NICE ‘07
Paris-Nice organisers ASO have said that the race will ‘definitely’ go ahead despite the ongoing dispute with the UCI over the event’s ProTour status.
Speaking at the presentation of the 2007 route on Tuesday, race organiser Patrice Clerq told newspaper L’Equipe ‘we’re not scared. The race will happen. Only the war [World War 2] has stopped this event from taking place.”
As if to underline their determination to continue come what may - Paris-Nice may well be run this year with the authorisation of the French Federation and the French Ministry of Sport, bypassing the UCI completely - the 2007 route is different to previous years.
If the hilly opening 4.7 kilometre prologue through the Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux is very much par for the course, the race then heads south on a much more westerly route than usual.
But the most innovative ingredient of this year’s route is a summit finish at Mende airfield, the same short but fearsomely steep climb used in the 1995 Tour de France and again 10 years later, in Armstrong’s last Tour.
Like Mont Faron used to do in former editions of Paris-Nice, such a tough climb will almost certainly decide the race winner, although whoever takes over the lead at Mende will have three difficult stages in which to defend their number one spot.
Two hilly stages through lower Provence then follow, before Sunday’s traditonal loop starting and finishing in Nice and including a double ascent of the Col D’Eze.
As expected, ProTour squad Unibet.com are not amongst the 20 team line-up. The Swedish-registered team have said that after their exclusion from so many ProTour races, the future of the squad is now doubtful.
Sunday 11 March: prologue: Issy-les-Moulineaux - Issy-les-Moulineaux 4.7km
Monday 12th Marcn: stage one: Cloyes-sur-le-Loire - Buzancais 186km
Tuesday 13th March: stage two: Vatan - Limoges 177km
Wednesday 14th March: stage three: Limoges - Maurs 215.5km
Thursday 15th March: stage four: Maurs - Mende 169.5km
Friday 16th March: stage five: Sorgues - Manosque 178km
Saturday 17th March: stage six: Brignoles - Cannes 200km
Sunday 18th March: stage seven: Nice - Nice 129.5km
Teams and key riders for Paris-Nice: Ag2R (Dessel), Bouygues (Voeckler) Cofidis (Chavanel), Fdjeux.com (McGee), Agritubel, Quick Step (Boonen), Predictor-Lotto (Evans), Gerolsteiner (Schumacher), T-Mobile (Rogers), Caisse D’Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi (Sanchez), Saunier Duval (Millar), Discovery (Contador), Lampre, CSC, (Schleck, Zabriskie); Liquigas, Milram, Rabobank (Flecha), Astana (Kashechkin).