What's Cool In Road Cycling

Tony Gallopin aims for top ten at Paris-Nice

Sunday, the 75th edition of Paris-Nice kicks off. Lotto Soudal rides this eight-day WorldTour race as Lotto Fix ALL with a blue-and-white shirt. The Race to the Sun is a mix of sprint stages and mountain stages. That’s reflected in the start list which contains both top sprinters and GC riders. Lotto Soudal goes to France with André Greipel and Tony Gallopin as leaders.

The first three stages are perfect for a bunch sprint. André Greipel will have to sprint against riders like Nacer Bouhanni, Bryan Coquard, Arnaud Démare, Dylan Groenewegen, Marcel Kittel and Alexander Kristoff. On Wednesday, an individual time trial is scheduled of 14.5 kilometres with finish on Mont Brouilly, a climb of three kilometres with an average gradient of 7.7%. Thursday, the sprinters get a last chance before the peloton heads into the mountains.

Friday, the stage finishes on Mur de Fayence. For more than one kilometre the average slope is 9.8%. Before Fayence the riders already have to climb a lot, with among other two ascents of the Col de Bourigaille. The stage on Saturday finishes on Col de la Couillole, a first category climb that is 15.7 kilometres long and has an average gradient of 7.1%. Five climbs lie on the course of the last stage, the last one is the Col d’Eze (7.7 km at 5.7% average). Then it goes fifteen kilometres downhill towards the finish in Nice. Many riders will aim for the overall victory. Apart from two-time winner Richie Porte also Romain Bardet, Steven Kruijswijk, Dan Martin and Alejandro Valverde will stand at the start.

Tony Gallopin: “The season began really well for me. I won the closing time trial at Etoile de Bessèges and finished second on GC. At Volta ao Algarve I finished third overall. I feel one hundred percent ready for Paris-Nice!”

“Paris-Nice is one of my favourite stage races. I always aim for a top ten place on GC. I succeeded in finishing on top ten the past three years and that’s my goal now as well. The level at Paris-Nice is always very high. Many great riders participate. I trained hard to take on the climbers in the mountain stages and I believe in myself.”

“Echelons could be formed in the first two stages, we will be riding on roads where that already happened in the past. It will be nervous anyway because of the sprints. For the flat stages we can rely on André Greipel. As a team we will do all we can to take him in the best possible position to the sprint.”

“Wednesday, will be the first clash between the GC riders. The individual time trial that day is short, but has a peculiar profile. The first ten kilometres are flat, but the time trial ends with a tough climb. I know that climb well, it’s steep and the road is narrow. In 2014 the Mont Brouilly lay on the route of Paris-Nice as well and this winter I did a recon there. The last three days of Paris-Nice will be hard. Friday, the stage finishes on the Mur de Fayence. In 2014 I got eighth on that finish. It’s a finish for punchers, but first there are two hard ascents of the Col de Bourigaille. Saturday is a mountain stage with a summit finish and Sunday the stage takes us to the famous Col d’Eze. It’s a very mountainous edition. For our team it will be extra special because we ride with the Lotto Fix ALL outfit. Last year, that action was a big success, with the stage win of Tim Wellens as the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to show myself in the blue-and-white kit.”

Line-up Lotto Fix ALL:
Lars Bak, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Moreno Hofland, Tosh Van der Sande and Jelle Wallays.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Marc Wauters.

Stages:
Stage 1 Sunday 5 March: Bois-d’Arcy – Bois d’Arcy (148.5 km)
Stage 2 Monday 6 March: Rochefort-en-Yvelines – Amilly (195 km)
Stage 3 Tuesday 7 March: Chablis – Chalon-sur-Saône (190 km)
Stage 4 Wednesday 8 March : Beaujeu – Mont Brouilly (14.5 km) (ITT)
Stage 5 Thursday 9 March: Quincié-en-Beaujolais – Bourg-de-Péage (199.5 km)
Stage 6 Friday 10 March: Aubagne – Fayence (193.5 km)
Stage 7 Saturday 11 March: Nice – Col de la Couillole (177 km)
Stage 8 Sunday 12 March: Nice – Nice (115.5 km).

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