The end of the cycling season, with its hint of farewell, its atmosphere of review and appraisal, also heralds good news for cycling fans: it is almost time for Paris-Tours.
In the series of great classics, the prestige of this long straight-line race also stems from its position on the calendar. For those determined on revenge, with a spring or summer campaign to erase, Paris-Tours stands out like an ultimatum, an injunction to excel.
To stand out in bold print in the season’s list of prize-winners, by shining in one of the last major events of the year, remains an honour ferociously coveted by the world’s elite champions. It is precisely this profusion of ambition that renders the scenario of Paris-Tours an unpredictable one. The mostly flat profile, the long straight final stretch of the avenue de Grammont and the weight of history all point to the list of current top sprinters when anticipating favourites. And yet the conclusion is a hasty one. The most impudent attackers, inspired by an autumnal Sunday where anything is possible, have many times overthrown the established hierarchy in order to seize glorious victory anew. It is perhaps a little truer here than elsewhere: whether a climber, a sprinter or a fighter, every rider has a chance to shine on Paris-Tours.
Director of the Tour de France