Auffargis > Orléans 159.2km
Get ready for echelon heaven! We head south from Paris, through wide open roads, everyone knows what’s going to happen.
Cold and sunny. The wind will be around 20-25km/h and will come from the east. That means pure crosswind for almost the whole day. It’s going to be carnage.
The race will start with a nervous bunch, that usually means crashes. Teams need to stay calm; the race won’t split in the opening 60km. This part of the race is well sheltered from the wind, although there some exposed sections.
The shit hits the fan with 96km to go. The peloton turns left, and we have 50km of exposed roads, with a strong sidewind. This section of the race is going to be crazy; the race will explode into many pieces. Which teams are best suited to these conditions?
The obvious answer is Jumbo-Visma. Make no mistake, they want to cause pain tomorrow. This isn’t just about Paris-Nice, this is about getting ready the Tour de France. This race is important, but the big goal comes in July. This is a great opportunity for the team to practise echelon riding in a race environment. They have Dennis, Laporte, Teunissen, Van Aert and Van Hooydonck to help protect Roglič. That is a very strong team for these conditions.
Looking to compete with them will be QuickStep and Trek – Segafredo. The Wolf Pack don’t really have a GC rider for this race, tomorrow will be all about chasing the stage win. The likes of Lampaert, Štybar and Sénéchal will love the look of this stage. We’ll have to see if Jakobsen survives, I’m not so sure. Trek – Segafredo always go well in the wind, they have Kirsch, Stuyven and Pedersen for this stage.
Who else will make the cut? Ineos will be there, probably with both Martínez and Yates. Quintana always survives and I would also expect McNulty and Jorgenson to be in the front group. The likes of Simon Yates, Guillaume Martin and David Gaudu could well be in for a long old day.
The size of the front group depends on how strong the wind is. My guess is that we see a gradual slimming down process, but the size of the final selection is a complete unknown to everyone.
Wout Van Aert – he’s obviously going to start as the favourite to win the stage, but it depends on the race situation. There could be a chance that Wout is needed to do a lot of work on the front for Roglič, the GC is more important than a stage win. Van Aert looked brilliant today, he’s started this season on fine form, but we’ll need to see how this stage pans out.
Primož Roglič – if Jumbo-Visma have lots of numbers in the front group, there could be a chance for Roglič to attack near the end.
Stefan Küng – it depends on team orders. FDJ have David Gaudu, he’s not very good in the wind, hopefully Küng doesn’t have to babysit him. Küng has started the season on fine form, he’s also a very strong echelon rider.
Matteo Trentin – another who’s started the season well but could find himself having to work for McNulty and Almeida.
Florian Sénéchal – the Frenchman is brilliant in these conditions. If Jakobsen doesn’t make the cut, it will allow Sénéchal freedom to chase some personal glory.
Mads Pedersen – it would be a surprise if Trek don’t make the front split, especially as they have most of their classics squad here. If both Pedersen and Stuyven are there, they’ll have a good shot at the win.
The Jumbo-Visma boys are going to destroy this stage, but they might not win it. It’s possible for a few riders to make the front split and then let the GC teams do all the work. I’ll take a win for Florian Sénéchal.