The Race To The Sun Is Up For Grabs!

news25.02.2014Pre-race

© Presse Sports

Richie Porte, Vincenzo Nibali and Tejay van Garderen are all in with a decent chance of winning, but not necessarily as the odds-on favourites. With this year's route providing numerous opportunities to turn the race for yellow on its head, power riders like Costa, Chavanel, Betancur and Gerrans are already sharpening their axes...

For the peloton, the start of Paris–Nice means things are getting serious: the moment of truth has come. Some riders have already locked horns in milder climes, but it is near Paris that the season of prestigious stage races sputters into life. Once again, for the fifth year straight, it all begins in the Yvelines department. With the opening chapter of the week-long race consisting of a sprinter trilogy, 2013 Paris–Tours champion John Degenkolb has chosen a cooler approach on French roads, on which he grabbed three stages of the Tour Méditerranéen. However, on the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours and other sprint finishes, the German will face stiff competition from riders such as Nacer Bouhanni and Bryan Coquard, who already beat him at the Étoile de Bessèges.
 
With a course completely devoid of time trialling and decisive climbs, the 72nd edition of Paris–Nice is one for the all-rounders. Richie Porte, who has already opened his account as he warms up for the Giro d'Italia; comeback kid Vincenzo Nibali, who is back for seconds after taking part in the 2006 edition; and the dogged Tejay van Garderen, runner-up to Chris Froome at the recent Tour of Oman, will all have to keep their teams on high alert. The race could well be decided by a matter of seconds, meaning this time around stage hunters will also be on the prowl for the overall title in Nice. The pundits are spoilt for choice in this department, beginning with one of the most ruthless hunters of them all: world champion Rui Costa will get a chance to show why he deserves to be the boss at Lampre. Take away the rainbow jersey and it is more or less the same story for Sylvain Chavanel, the IAM team leader. The French contingent has a few other cards up its sleeve, including Romain Bardet (best young rider at the Tour of Oman), Tony Gallopin and Thomas Voeckler. Simon Gerrans, who is flying in the early season, may finally manage to earn his wings in Nice, several months after pulling on the yellow jersey of the Tour de France on the Promenade des Anglais.
 
21 teams: main contenders
 
Australia
Orica-GreenEDGE: Albasini (SUI) and Gerrans (AUS)
 
Belgium
Lotto-Belisol: Gallopin (FRA), Monfort and Vanendert (BEL)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen, Meersman (BEL) and Štybar (CZE)
 
Spain
Movistar Team: Gadret (FRA) and Gutiérrez (ESP)
 
United States
BMC Racing Team: Van Garderen (USA), Hushovd (NOR), Moinard (FRA)
Garmin-Sharp: Farrar (USA) and Navardauskas (LTU)
Trek Factory Team: Kiserlovski (CRO), A. Schleck and F. Schleck (LUX)
 
France
Ag2r-La Mondiale: Bardet (FRA) and Betancur (COL)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Coppel, Simon (FRA) and Navarro (ESP)
FDJ: Bouhanni and Jeannesson (FRA)
Team Europcar (EUC): Coquard and Voeckler (FRA)
Bretagne-Séché Environnement: B. Feillu, R. Feillu (FRA) and Sepúlveda (ARG)
 
Great Britain
Sky ProCycling (SKY): Porte (AUS), López García (ESP) and Boasson Hagen (NOR)
 
Italy
Cannondale: De Marchi and Marcato (ITA)
Lampre-Merida: Faria (POR) and Serpa (COL)
 
Kazakhstan
Astana Pro Team: Nibali (ITA), Fuglsang (DEN) and Westra (NED)

Netherlands
Belkin Pro Cycling Team: Hivert (FRA), Kelderman (NED) and Nordhaug (NOR)
Team Giant-Shimano: Degenkolb (GER) and Hupond (FRA)
 
Russia
Team Katusha: Kristoff (NOR) and Špilak (SLO)
Tinkoff-Saxo: Kroon (NED) and C-A. Sorensen (DEN)
 
Switzerland
IAM Cycling (IAM): Syl. Chavanel (FRA) and Denifl (AUT)

The news in pictures

photo25/02/2014 

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Jersey wearers after the stage 8

Classifications after the stage 8

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