[Underneath article was written before the start of Paris-Nice and has not been updated]
Egan Bernal won last year’s Paris-Nice 39 seconds ahead of Quintana with Kwiatkowski in third at 1.03 minutes. But he will not defend his title, as Team Ineos does not participate. The squad withdraws from all racing until the Volta a Catalunya on 23 March.
Bernal’s 2019 win was a deviation from the preceding editions, in which Paris-Nice’s GC-battle had become the epitome of ‘every second counts’. The races of 2018, 2017 and 2016 were settled by less than a handful of seconds.
As far as the 2020 edition goes, the first proper time gaps are expected in the time trial on the fourth day of action before final two races will decide the overall classification. Stage 6 serves a summit finish at Valdeblore La Colmiane after a 16.3 kilometres ascent at 6.3%. As the climb tops out at 1,500 metres, the weather gods could have a voice in this race.
Stage 7 is a short and hilly out-and-back race in Nice. Although serving four intermediate climbs, the route of the last stage is not as hard as in previous editions. The final climb, Côte d’Aspremont, tops out 18 kilometres from the line. As the Aspremont is only 3.9 kilometres at 3.7% attackers have no option but to strike from far out.
A lot of still competitive riders won the Race to the Sun: Egan Bernal (2019), Marc Soler (2018), Sergio Henao (2017), Geraint Thomas (2016), Richie Porte (2015, 2013), Carlos Betancur (2014), Tony Martin (2011), and Luis León Sánchez (2009).
Favourites Paris-Nice 2020
**** Thibaut Pinot, Nairo Quintana, Julian Alaphilippe
*** Pello Bilbao, Pierre Latour, Michael Woods, Vincenzo Nibali
* Dylan Teuns, Romain Bardet, Sergio Higuita, Ilnur Zakarin, Richie Porte