Will 2015 turn out to be the year of the 24 year old Sardine? Last season he stormed into the spotlights of international cycling with the conviction of a true champion. He took stages in the Giro (15th stage) and Vuelta (11th and 18th stage), a performance he underscored by a third and fifth place in the overall of both Grand Tours.
Last year, World Champion Kwiatkowski raced the Tirreno-Adriatico and was the leader for a couple of days. That show of strength was part of a good pre-season crowned with a victory in the Strade Bianche, while fall brought him the rainbow jersey. Still only 24 years of age. Good start in 2015 also with second place in the Volta ao Algarve.
Sky is with a strong line-up in Paris-Nice. Looking at the two scheduled chrono’s, Bradley Wiggins is definitely a rider to watch. The world champion time trialing is eyeing a Paris-Roubaix win as his goodbye to road cycling, but he wants to perform well in the Hell of the North he should be in form in the Race to the Sun.
Wiggins took Paris-Nice in 2012, while his teammate Porte was his successor. Both won the time trial up Col d’Eze and exactly the same route is closing edition 2015, so it looks promising for Sky. Nicolas Roche is in France to assist the gladiators.
And still that’s not all Sky has to offer in Paris-Nice. The Welshmen took the Volta ao Algarve and was strong in last year’s edition. Thomas led the race and was runner-up when he crashed out with two days remaining.
Tejay van Garderen
In 2014 the 26 year old performed quite volatile. In pre-season he alternated between stage wins plus podium (Volta a Catalunya) and invisibility (Paris-Nice), but he peaked in the Tour de France. Finishing fifth in La Grande Boucle, the one thing Van Garderen will be looking for in 2015 is a steady performance curve. His age requires it and, besides, since Cadel Evans´ retirement he is the big man at BMC.
Former European champion mountain bike Péraud surprised last year by finishing second in the Tour de France. In Paris-Nice 2015 he is two months down on his 37 birthday, but the French cyclist seems to be like a good wine, only get better with age. His performance in the 2014 was no fluke, since he won Critérium International and was on the podium in the Tour of the Basque Country.
Wearing the rainbow jersey, Costa was second behind winner Carlos Betancur in last year´s Paris-Nice. The Colombian will be racing the Tirreno, so this should open up opportunities for the 28 year old Portuguese. His palmares shows three GC-wins in the Tour de Suisse plus three stage-wins in the Tour de France, so he knows how to win.
The 23 year old Dutchman is growing every year. A strong performance in last year´s Paris-Nice was plagued by a puncture in the finale of stage 6, weakening his GC-chances. He came back strong in both the Giro (7th)and Critérium du Dauphiné (4th). Is he going to be the Fabio Aru of 2015 by living up to his (huge) promise?
Other riders to watch: Rohan Dennis, Rafal Majka, Tony Martin, Tom Dumoulin, Romain Bardet, Andrew Talansky.
Paris-Nice 2015: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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