Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Paris-Nice
The eight-day race will be held between 4-11 March and include 27 classified climbs, as well as a testing individual time trial.
The first major stage race of the year, Paris-Nice will start in Chatou, a small commune in the Yvelines department, with a stage for punchy riders, who are set to fight for victory and the first yellow jersey on a 1.9km-long climb averaging 6%, whose final 500 meters have cobbles.
From there, the riders will begin the long road south, with Vierzon and Châtel-Guyon (where the race's longest stage will conclude) promised to the sprinters. Saint-Étienne – who first featured on the route at the third edition – will return as a stage finish for the first time since 2009, this time with an 18.4km ITT held over a course that can be easily split in two: a first half uphill, on 4% roads, and a second one very fast, suited to the specialists of the discipline.
The peloton's fast men will have one more chance to shine in Sisteron, from where the race will then roll out on Friday, when a hilly stage, punctuated by six categorized climbs, will smile to the riders interested in taking home the KOM jersey, but also to the attackers, as the final hill on the course, Côte de la Colle-sur-Loup, comes with ten kilometers to go.
For the second consecutive year, the sole mountain top finish of the race will feature on the penultimate stage. Valdeblore La Colmiane (16.3 kilometers, 6.2%) is back in Paris-Nice and it's very likely to weigh heavily in the fight for the yellow jersey, as the favourites will face a genuine climbing challenge. Last day will take the riders around Nice and over six classified climbs, including the legendary Col d'Eze (1.6 kilometers, 8.1%), which will be tackled from a different side, before Col des Quatre Chemins and the descent to the Promenade des Anglais.
Quick-Step Floors raced the "Course au Soleil" for the first time in 2003, and since then, our team took 15 stage victories and seven wins in secondary classification. Most recently, at the 2017 edition, Julian Alaphilippe took a sensational stage win on an uphill time trial on his way to becoming the first rider to win the green and white jerseys.
"I'm quite satisfied with my first two races of the season, it was nice to be in Colombia and then in Abu Dhabi, where only two seconds separated me from a top-3 finish. My results in these races gave me confidence ahead of my first outing in Europe, which I'm delighted to make at Paris-Nice, a beautiful race which I became fond of long before turning pro."
"I know many of the roads of this year's edition and I dare to say the parcours is even more demanding than the one of last year. In the first part of the week the weather will also be a factor, with forecasted rain and strong winds, but we are coming here with a strong team and we are very determined to continue the impressive run of solid results that we have been enjoying since the start of the season. I would love to win a stage like last year, but I will take it day by day and see what happens", concluded Alaphilippe, best Frenchman of the previous edition, which he finished in fifth place overall.
Also lining up at the start of the "Course au Soleil" for Quick-Step Floors will be Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns – who lies in third place in the World Tour individual standings – Belgian ITT Champion Yves Lampaert, Michael Mørkøv, Fabio Sabatini and Elia Viviani, who'll look with confidence to the flat stages, after taking five wins so far this season, including the Dubai Tour general classification.
Photo: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images