The last big race in Europe has arrived,for 2013.
The Cote de Crochu is 8%,the Cote de Beau Soleil crests just under 10km from the end and is a very narrow climb,and the final climb is only 7km from the end and has an 8% gradient.These climbs are short,but steep.
This ensures that the race very rarely ends in a win for a sprinter.In fact,only 4 out of the last 16 editions have been won by a “pure” sprinter,and not since 2010 with Oscar Freire.
Take a look at what happened last year.Notice how lined out the peloton gets on the climbs.
John Degenkolb has a big problem!If he misses the attack of a small group,the group he is with,will not ride as he’ll win the sprint.That’s why he attacked solo.He needs to have some teammates with him to help,or have other sprinters there to help.
Looking at the start list,there isn’t a huge amount of sprinting talent.We have Demare and Ciolek.FDJ might have some riders left but could also let Offredo attack,so they don’t have to work.I doubt if Ciolek will have any teammates left.
There are a number of strong men here,looking to attack on the final climb:
Debusschere,Chavanel,Terpstra,De Vreese,Van Avermaet,Gasparotto,Boom and Leukemans.
I really like the look of Astana’s Enrico Gasparotto.Here is what his DS had to say,
“Unfortunately we are at the end of the season and lots of riders are either sick or racing this weekend, so we can only send five riders to the start. But Enrico is our one good shot at success at Paris-Tours, because although the race is mostly flat, there are some hills at the finish that suit him. More importantly, it’s 230km long, so having a lot of fitness and form will help him against the competition,” said Kirsipuu.
Astana are delighted with the form of the Italian.He was 18th at Milano-Torino and then a brilliant 5th at Lombardia.Despite only having a team of 5 riders I think he is a great shout for a win.He loves the short,steep climbs and is very quick in a sprint.This makes him an ideal bet at 66/1.
Degenkolb is a massive favourite but I don’t think he has the team to support him.They might even let Barguil attack and force other teams to work.
Defending champion Marco Marcato is very good here,he has finished 2nd and 1st in the last 2 years.
But for me it has to be Gasparotto!