No prologue for Paris-Nice this year with riders beginning with a 162.5 km spin around Mantes la Jolie.
Mantes-la-Jolie is located on the Autoroute de Normandie, a little under 50 kilometers to the west of Paris. The town of 43,000 has a long history. It is situated halfway between Paris and Rouen, once settled upon by Norman rulers. Also, during the Hundred Year’s War between France and England (1337-1453), the town changed hands numerous times
Much like the rest of Northern France, the area is mainly flat with the likelihood being that this will be a stage for the sprinters. The route is some local rounds with 4 times the same hillock. Cote de Vert is 1.5 kilometres by an average gradient of 4.4%, and strangely only 2 out of 4 ascents are categorized. But the last passing is at about 30 kilometres from the finish line, so it will not spoil any sprinter’s fun.
The 2012 edition of the race saw a stage between Mantes-la-Jolie and Orleans plagued by bad weather and strong winds. The bunch was ripped apart with Tom Boonen emerging victorious from what was left of the peloton. His 2014 form to date suggests he will be in the mix again and it would be no surprise to see Tommeke in the leaders jersey for stage 2.
Last year’s opener was a 2.9 km prologue through the streets of Houilles in the northwest of Paris. It was a close call with Damien Gaudin notching an impressive and surprising victory. He finished just 1 second quicker than compatriot Sylvain Chavanel and Dutchman Lieuwe Westra, who were followed just as closely by the talented young riders Geoffrey Soupe (France) and Wilco Kelderman (The Netherlands).
The start of this stage is at 11:40 (CET) and the finish is estimated around 15:50.
Paris-Nice 2014 stage 1: Images
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