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Course Preview

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Terrain: Hilly, descending finish.
GC Importance: Potentially decisive. The final two climbs come close to the finish, and to one another. A determined rider could escape and alter the general classification, and a bad day could end the hopes of a Yellow Jersey hopeful.

For its final stage, this year’s Paris-Nice sticks to a familiar pattern with the start and finish in Nice on the Côte d’Azur. The course follows a u-shaped trace and climbs the Col de la Porte, La Turbie, and Col d’Eze, the signature climb of Paris-Nice. In the past, Paris-Nice concluded at the summit of the Col d’Eze, and in some years, a time trial provided the final stage. More recently, the race has raced down to sea level and finished on the Promenade des Anglaises which runs along the Mediterranean. This year will continue that pattern.

The stage sets out from Nice and travels inland into the uneven terrain of the Alpes Maritimes. The first 20 kilometers are mostly flat, and there is an intermediate sprint at kilometer 18.5 in Plan du Var. It’s mostly up from there, and the road climbs at a steady gradient as it passes through Saint-Jean-la-Riviére and Lantosque.

Just outside Lantosque, the riders will come to the first climb of the day, the category 1 Col de la Porte, which climbs 620 meters over 13.5 kilometers. The climb starts out easily enough and there is a short descent after the first 4.5 kilometers of climbing. Then the climb gets down to business and the pitch briefly hits 11 percent. The Col de la Porte tops out at 1057 meters. The next 20 kilometers descend and the course passes through Lucéram before coming to rest at La Trinité, just 90 meters above sea level.

The course runs roller-coaster style through the final two climbs which rise up steeply from the Mediterranean coast. La Turbie climbs just under 400 meters in 8.5 kilometers and could tempt a marauder to go on the escape. From La Turbie, the road drops steeply. The Col d’Eze follows immediately after the descent, which lasts just over 10 kilometers. The climb sits nearly at the water’s edge and offers a commanding view of the Mediterranean. A false-flat follows the KOM line, and two kilometeres later, there is an intermediate sprint in the town of Eze. Tony Martin of HTC-Columbia summited the Col d’Eze first last year on the way to winning the Green Jersey of the mountains competition. A knee injury has hindered the German’s training and complicates Martin’s chances of a repeat victory.

The riders will have no time to enjoy the view with the stage finish just 14 kilometers from the summit of the final climb. It’s all descending from the top of the Col d’Eze as the road serpentines to the sea. The stage finishes along the white sands of the Mediterranean on the Promenade des Anglaises. The final kilometers are flat, and on occasion, the stage ends with a desperate chase to the line.

Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)<-->