Etixx – Quick-Step to Paris-Nice
Tom Boonen, David De La Cruz, Marcel Kittel, Nikolas Maes, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh will be our line-up for the French race.
The World Tour returns on Sunday with its second event of the season, Paris-Nice (6-13 March). Held annually since 1933, Paris-Nice saw over the years some of cycling's biggest names take the honours and leave their legacy under the form of many memorable moments. One of the most important events in the calendar, "The Race To The Sun" was kind also to Etixx – Quick-Step on a regular basis, as the team has won 13 stages at the previous 12 participations.
Paris-Nice will begin with the traditional prologue, which this year will be held in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, and continue with two stages that should end up in a bunch sprint. From that point on it will all be about the attackers and the climbers (maybe with the exception of stage 4), as the 74th edition schedules two uphill finishes – the steep Mount Brouilly and Madone d'Utelle – and also a visit on the infamous Mont Ventoux, at Chalet Reynard (1435 meters). The race will conclude in Nice, but not following an individual time trial on Col d'Eze. Instead, the peloton will face an undulating stage, with six categorized ascents, which are sure to leave the general classification fight open until the finish line.
Etixx – Quick-Step has a quality line-up for Paris-Nice, which includes also Tom Boonen, the only rider in the past 12 years to score three wins at a single edition (2006). Joining him will be Marcel Kittel – who has already added five victories to his name this season – David De La Cruz, Nikolas Maes, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry, Le Samyn winner Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh, who'll ride "The Race To The Sun" for the fifth year in a row.
"Paris-Nice is by nature a very demanding race, and things won't be any different this year. There are many tough stages: a technical prologue, a stage with dirt roads and two uphill finishes. We have a very strong team and we hope to come out of the race with a stage victory. Marcel is our main bet for this, while David will try to do a good general classification", said sport director Tom Steels, himself a multiple stage winner at Paris-Nice. "The race will be very important also for our Classics riders, because it's the last step towards the big one-day races of this spring. Hopefully, we'll have good weather and a smooth race, so everything will go just fine with their preparation."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele