The first two European WorldTour stage races of the season, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, rarely fail to produce some high-calibre performances and opportunities to read the omens for the rest of the spring calendar. And this year, despite bad weather partially affecting both events, both the Race to the Sun and the Race of Two Seas fully lived up to expectations.
Tadej Pogačar‘s spectacular performance in Paris-Nice has already left a major mark on a season where he’s rarely been off the top step of the podium. And Primož Roglič has confirmed in Italy with his rare and impressive triple of consecutive stage victories that he remains a huge force to be reckoned with, even as the Giro d’Italia, his main target of the year, draws ever closer.
Yet if the road racing beat went on for Slovenian cycling at near-deafening volume, we also witnessed host nation France celebrate one of its most notable recent results in Paris-Nice, a possible setback for the defending Tour de France champion and fresh fuel for the longstanding debate about the wisdom of holding two major WorldTour races simultaneously.
The 2023 editions of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico were entertaining in their own right, but they also provide plenty of room for discussion as to what their results imply for both the major Classics and the Grand Tours. With next weekend’s Milan-San Remo just around the corner, both geographically and time-wise from Sunday’s finish of Paris-Nice, any conclusions drawn now will not have long to wait to be put to a fresh reality check.
Tadej Pogacar the reference point again
Just imagine for a second that rather than the UAE Team Emirates leader bowing to the public as he swept along the Promenade des Anglais on Sunday, it was his rival Jonas Vingegaard who was soaking up the applause in the final metres of the 2023 edition of Paris-Nice.
It says it all about the scale of Pogačar’s victory in his maiden participation in Paris-Nice and his omnipresence at the head of the action that that particular scenario is now all but impossible to conceive. His wins on all three of Paris-Nice’s mountain stages and the overall victory in the spring’s toughest week-long event by the biggest margin in a decade collectively represent a level of domination that puts the Slovenian firmly back in stage racing’s driving seat.
It all but…
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