The first “real” stage of Paris Nice starts from Saint-Germain-en-Laye and ends in Nemours on March 4, Monday; traveling along the outskirts of Paris.
It will be a typical sprint day, where a breakaway group kept carefully at distance by sprint teams and got eventually caught within the last 20 kilometers, where a bunch sprint then is unavoidable. Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano, Mark Renshaw of Blanco and Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ are the best sprinters in the pelaton and don’t think a last-5 km break from Chavanel or a sprint effort from Boonen could make things different.
There will be time bonuses both in the intermediate sprints and at the stage finish, so expect one of the sprinters to wear the yellow jersey at the end of the stage.
The race starts on March 3, Sunday with a pretty short (2.9 k in total), flat but a winding route. The mid section is especially interesting and will most likely be the decider in this very technical prologue .
Last year, after a 9.4 km time-trial, Gustav Larsson took the first yellow jersey thanks to the heavy rain which hampered the late starters; Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans and Tony Martin to name a few. Larsson, the Swedish national time trial champion now riding for IAM Cycling, looks more of a favorite this time with most of the elite time-trialists picking Tirreno-Adriatico instead. Still, there are quite some riders that can perform well and with a bit of luck, can clinch a prestigious win in here; Anders Kloden of Radio Shack, Sylvain Chavanel of Omega-Pharma and Brent Bookwalter of BMC, Simon Spilak of Katusha to name a few. Even pure sprinters like Mark Renshaw or Marcel Kittel can score very interesting times if the weather happens to be on their side.
The race will be broadcasted live on Eurosport 2 starting from 15:30 CET and also in a wide range of tv channels across Europe around the same times.