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March 8 update: As we make our way south, not only does it warm up, but gets it hillier, of course. The racing should heat too as the stage 3 route is up and down just about the entire way.

This hilly stage will feature seven categorized climbs, but nothing greater than a cat 2 making for great classics prep. The peloton will start in Crêches-sur-Saône, heading west before looping south around the perimeter of Mont Monet. The finish will be in Belleville (but not as in the Triplets of Belleville, that's the Belleville neighborhood in Paris) after descending from the hills. As you can see from the map above, the stage will form almost a complete loop, which is always good for the road side fans.

The last time Paris-Nice finished in Belleville was in 1977 when Freddy Maertens was on a tear winning four stages that year. If chances of a sprint finish are 50-50 at Paris-Nice then always bet on the break succeeding -- that's something Yoga Berra might say. ;-) — Steve