Paris-Nice 2013: The Big Preview
Paris-Nice 2012, stage seven
Although the route of the 2013 edition of Paris-Nice (March 3-10) looks superficially similar to last year's parcours, there are a couple of subtle-yet-key differences that will shape the final outcome of the 'Race to the Sun'.
Taking its traditional route south, the eight-day, WorldTour race starts in Houilles on Sunday, March 3. The opener is a very short - almost a sprint - 2.9-kilometre prologue time trial. It's the sort of distance that will suit sprinters as much as pure time triallists and will be an early test of power to sort out the yellow jersey.
Last year's edition kicked off with a longer 9.4-kilometre test against the clock which saw Bradley Wiggins (Sky) place second behind Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM), put time into his rivals from the gun and go on to take the overall win.
A shorter TT this year will ensure that the time differences between riders are far less pronounced, and gives the sprinters a better shot at fighting over the race lead. The following two stages to Nemours (Monday, stage one) and to Cérilly (Tuesday, stage two) look to be set up for bunch finishes.
The terrain then gets hillier to suit breakaways and attackers for the next two days to Brioude (Wednesday, stage three) and Saint-Vallier (Thursday, stage four).
Stage five on Friday is when things really start to hot up with a route that ends atop La Montagne de Lure for the race's highest finish in its history. The 13.8-kilometre long climb tops out at 1,600 metres above sea level and will provide a hard test for the climbers, and even more of a test for the non-climbers.
There's not much in the way of respite on the following day's penultimate stage to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, it's the longest stage of the 2013 race at 220 kilometres and feature two first category climbs in the second half, Cote de Cabris and Col du Ferrier. A 30km-plus downhill run-in to Nice should give time for any dangerous escapes to be reeled back in.
The race finishes as it did last year, with a 9.6-kilometre uphill time trial to Col d'Eze. The road ramps up quickly, with the riders hitting a section of 8.5 per cent gradient within the first two kilometres. A short respite comes before a middle section of 7 per cent, before easing off towards the finish line. In total the stage includes 469 metres of ascent at an average of 4.6 per cent gradient. It's enough to provide one final opportunity to shake up the overall classification.
Defending champion Wiggins is absent this year, which leaves the race wide open for a new rider to make their mark on one of the most prestigious stage races in the calendar. A total of 23 teams are in attendance, including recent WorldTour addition Katusha.
Cycling Weekly will be covering Paris-Nice in full with daily stage reports and photo galleries. Links to all of our reports can be found in the Paris-Nice 2013 coverage index.
Paris-Nice 2013: Stages
Prologue, Sunday March 3, Houilles to Houilles, 2.9km
Stage one, Monday March 4, Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Nemours, 195km
Stage two, Tuesday March 5, Vimory to Cérilly, 200.5km
Stage three, Wednesday March 6, Châtel-Guyon to Brioude, 170.5km
Stage four, Thursday March 7, Brioude to Saint-Vallier, 199.5km
Stage five, Friday March 8, Châteauneuf-du-Pape to La Montagne de Lure, 176km
Stage six, Saturday March 9, Manosque to Nice, 220km
Stage seven, Sunday March 10, Nice to Col d'Èze, 9.6km ITT
Paris-Nice 2013 map. Click to enlarge in new window. Map: ASO
Paris-Nice 2013: Teams
Full start list>>
BMC Racing Team
Paris-Nice 2012 podium: Bradley Wiggins (Sky) took the overall win before going on to conquer the Tour de France
Paris-Nice: Recent winners
2012: Bradley Wiggins (GBr)
2011: Tony Martin (Ger)
2010: Alberto Contador (Spa)
2009: Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa)
2008: Davide Rebellin (Ita)
2007: Alberto Contador (Ita)
2006: Floyd Landis (USA)
2005: Bobby Julich (USA)
2004: Jorg Jaksche (Ger)
2003: Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)
2002: Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)
Paris-Nice: Last year's top ten (2012)
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky in 28-12-16
2. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 8 secs
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1-10
4. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 1-24
5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 1-54
6. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 2-13
7. Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan at 2-21
8. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 2-42
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana at 3-30
10. Angel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha at 3-59
Paris-Nice 2013: British TV guide
Satellite and digitial channel British Eurosport will be showing live coverage and highlights. Check the British Eurosport website for more details and confirmed transmission times.
Sunday March 3, 14:30-16:00, Prologue LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Monday March 4, 13:45-15:15, Stage one LIVE, British Eurosport
Tuesday March 5, 13:45-15:15, Stage two LIVE, British Eurosport
Wednesday March 6, 13:45-15:15, Stage three LIVE, British Eurosport
Thursday March 7, 13:45-15:15, Stage four LIVE, British Eurosport
Friday March 8, 14:15-16:00, Stage five LIVE, British Eurosport
Saturday March 9, 14:15-16:00, Stage six LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Sunday March 10, 14:15-16:00, Stage seven LIVE, British Eurosport 2