Last year, Paris-Nice was the last race before the COVID-19 stoppage. While the final stage was called off, Max Schachmann took the overall victory after having been race leader from day one. Not all pre-race favourites contended though, as several teams withdrew in the days before the start.
Concerning the 2021 edition, the first proper time gaps are expected to open up in the time trial on the third day of action. Roglic is the most likely riders to deliver a blow on the undulating course of 14.4 kilometres long.
The GC action should intensify on stage 4, which packs in 3,500 metres of climbing before an uphill finish in Chiroubles. Featuring 2 kilometres at over 10%, the 7.3 kilometres final climb is highly irregular.
Looking at the profile, stage 7 will be pre-decisive – if not decisive. The route takes in three intermediate climbs before a summit finish in ski resort La Colmiane. The 16.3 kilometres drag to the line averages 6.3%. The ascent has opened up significant gaps in the recent past. Three years ago, Simon Yates put 46 seconds into his main rival Marc Soler, while Max Schachmann hung onto his yellow jersey despite losing 58 seconds to stage winner Nairo Quintana.
Stage 8 is a short race in the mountains above Nice. At 110.5 kilometres, the riders tackle six ascents before a downhill finish onto the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, the famous boulevard along the Côte d’Azur. Similar routes have produced breathtaking races in recent years, notably in 2016, 2017 and 2018, when Geraint Thomas, Sergio Henao and Marc Soler won the overall classification with 4 seconds, 2 seconds and 4 seconds, respectively.
Favourites Paris-Nice 2021
*** Primoz Roglic, Aleksandr Vlasov, Tao Geoghegan Hart
** Richie Porte, Pello Bilbao, Wout Poels, Ion Izagirre
* David Gaudu, Maximilian Schachmann, Tiesj Benoot, Steven Kruijswijk