Etixx - Quick-Step to Paris-Nice
Etixx - Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in Paris-Nice, which takes place from Sunday, March 8th until Sunday, March 15th.
Paris-Nice opens with a 6.7km prologue in Maurepas, and is followed two relatively flat stages. Stage 3, 179km in distance, features three Category 3 ascents with some small up and downs including a short uphill finish.
Stage 4, from Varennes-sur-Allier to a summit finish on Croix de Chaubouret, will likely be a crucial one for riders with GC aspirations. The 204km stage includes eight categorized climbs, and six of those climbs bunched together in the final kilometers. The finale is of the first category, at 10km and 6.7% average gradient.
Stage 5 opens with an immediate Category 1 climb, but the 192km stage from Saint-Etienne to Rasteau features only a few lower category climbs before a short uphill finish.
The penultimate stage, 181.5km Stage 6 from Vence to Nice, will again be a stage for the climbers. The peloton faces six climbs of second or first category, though the final kilometers features plenty of descending, including technical sections. There is also a small uphill just before a descent to the finish.
Finally, Paris-Nice features a mountain ITT in its remaining 9.6km Stage. This is a potentially decisive time trial from Nice to Col d'Eze and the parcours features a 4.7% average gradient.
"After Algarve I trained very well," UCI World Road Champion Michal Kwiatkowski said. "I worked on intensive training, harder than before. After Argentina and Algarve, plus this block of training, I feel good and ready to face the first UCI WorldTour race of the year. To be honest I am pretty excited because I can't wait to enter into this hard, but exciting period, which starts with this beautiful race and ends with the Ardennes Classics. As a rider it is something you want to be part of, so I am happy to be here. This is also important because I never raced Paris-Nice before, so it is another step as a young rider to discover a part of the pro cycling world. I checked the parcours. I saw there is a prologue and also there are some mountain finishes during the week. Then there is a difficult weekend with the ITT on the Col d'Eze We will see. I'll take it day-by-day. But the goal is to go there and try to do something well at this race. I'll be surrounded by a great team and can count on experienced guys like Tom Boonen, who is a road captain at this race he rode several times. Tony Martin, like me, can also be a protagonist in this race, especially as a three-time UCI World TT Champion with a prologue and an ITT. He won Paris-Nice already once in 2011 and showed he is capable. I think we will have a nice, hard week at the office. We are all happy to be here and ready for the 'Race to the Sun'."
"The team is well structured and balanced with the hope to do well in this first UCI WorldTour race in Europe," Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. "We have a group of riders here ready to race. For example, Tom Boonen who is good for the sprints and we have Nikolas Maes at this race to help in those kinds of situations. Tony and Michal arrive here with ambitions to do well in the GC and see how far they can go in terms of contending the overall. For Tony, it's no secret he loves this race and it is one of his objectives to see how competitive he can be in the climbs and the one-week races. Concerning Kwiato, this is the first time he raced Paris-Nice. He will be our leader together with Tony, and even for him it will be a test of his condition for the one-week races.They will be supported by Julian Alaphilippe, Stijn Vandenbergh, Maxime, Bouet, and Michal Golas in this up-and-down parcours. We have a strong team that can be present in the actions of all the different stages and we are looking forward to this one-week race in France."