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The 2024 edition of Paris-Nice looks set to be decided in a tough mountainous final weekend next year, but a fraught, hilly opening leg, the risk of cross-winds on stage 2 and a mid-race TTT will also help decide who succeeds Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) as the winner of France’s second biggest stage race.
The unveiling of the 82nd edition of Paris-Nice in December confirmed the repeat of the 2023 TTT on stage 3, this time in the city of Auxerre, but with the same unusual format of the time being set by the first rider across the line.
A summit finish at the cat. 2 climb of Mont Brouilly, last seen in Paris-Nice in a time trial won by Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) follows 24 hours later.
The key final weekend starts once again with a cat.1 summit finish in the Alpes-Maritimes in Auron. Then, stage 8’s mountainous circuit around Nice may look familiar, but it has a crucial innovation: a short but very steep Col-des-Quatre-Chemins just 9km from the finish.
Last year’s exceptionally thrilling edition saw Pogačar take three stages on route to victory ahead of David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma). And while the Slovenian is not expected to return to defend his title in 2024, race director Christian Prudhomme reminded his audience in Tuesday’s press conference why Paris-Nice always has an enduring attraction.
“We didn’t have the final podium in Paris-Nice in the same order that we had in the Tour de France, but Paris-Nice this March made it clear we knew we’d have a big fight on our hands in July,” Prudhomme said.
And with the Tour finishing in Nice next summer, those early omens of what might happen four months later over many of the same roads will be even stronger than usual.
Stage 1: Les Mureaux – Les Mureaux, 157.7km
Starting in the Yvelines Départment near Paris for the 15th time in its history in the town of Les Mureaux, stage 1 is peppered with category 3 ascents and then finishes on a tough uphill ramp, meaning the GC riders will have to be on the ball and at the front of the pack right from the word go.
Stage 2: Thiory-Montargis, 177.6km
Stage 2 then continues with another of the traditional Paris-Nice early challenges, with its flat, exposed run from Thoiry to Montargis….