From this Sunday and during one week, Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux will participate in Paris-Nice (2.UWT). The first World Tour stage race on European soil presents seven bunch races and one short individual time trial.
The 80th edition of the Race to the Sun starts with two flat stages, first in the Ile-de-France region around Mantes-la-Ville and the next day towards Orléans, where the risk of crosswinds is the main difficulty. The outcome of the third day is difficult to predict as the final towards Dun-le-Palestel is a little hilly.
On the fourth day, the riders will battle in an individual time trial of 13.4 kilometer. The final 700 meter climb the Côte de la rue Buffon (8.6%) towards Montluçon. The second part of the week in the South of France is hillier, starting with a fifth stage through the Loire and Ardèche regions. Five categorized climbs have to be covered, from which three of first category.
The riders will enter in the PACA region the next day for the sixth stage of 214 kilometer towards Aubagne, the longest stage of the week and with the same difficulty level as the preceding day. The penultimate stage will bring the riders to the top of the Col de Turini (14.9km at 7.3%), where the finish will take place at an altitude of 1600 meter. The traditional closing stage around Nice is short but intense with five climbs. The Col d’Eze (6km at 7.6%) is the final difficulty on the way towards the Promenade des Anglais, where the winner of this 80th edition will be known.
The Belgian World Team under the direction of Steven De Neef and Hilaire Van der Schueren will be represented by among others Estonian climber Rein Taaramäe (4th in 2011, 7th in 2010), who finished eight times in the top ten in seven participations. Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay, the winner of the Trofeo Alcudia, will discover the Race to the Sun for the first time, just like Belgian rider Loïc Vliegen and German rider Georg Zimmermann. A trio of Belgian classic specialists Dimitri Claeys, Aimé De Gendt and Baptiste Planckaert complete the roster of seven riders.
Stage 1 (06/03): Mantes-La-Ville – Mantes-La-Ville (159,8km)
Stage 2 (07/03): Auffargis – Orléans (159,2km)
Stage 3 (08/03): Vierzon – Dun-Le-Palestel (190,8km)
Stage 4 (09/03): Domérat – Montluçon (13,4km) (= TT)
Stage 5 (10/03): Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert – Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut (188,8km)
Stage 6 (11/03): Courthézon – Aubagne (213,6km)
Stage 7 (12/03): Nice – Col de Turini-La Bollène-Vésubie (155,2km)
Stage 8 (13/03): Nice – Nice (115,6km)