Paris-Nice, known as ‘the race to the sun’ is the first major stage race on the European calendar, and regarded as one of the best stage races outside of the Grand Tours.
Although missing some of the big names from last year, including winner and subsequent Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, a quality field has been assembled and the racing promises to be very exciting.
Stage 1 is a 195km ride from Saint-German-en-Laye to Nemours and the flat course should allow for a bunch sprint provided the peloton doesn’t fracture in the high winds expected to be encountered.
Frenchman Damien Gaudin of Europcar starts the day in yellow after winning the 2.9km prologue in a time of 3’37”, holding just a 1 second advantage over compatriot Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Dutchman Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM).
The last kilometre is downhill and will provide a fast, exciting finish, with the likes of Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Australia’s own Mark Renshaw (Blanco Pro Cycling) all expected to fight for the stage win.