The penultimate stage of Paris Nice throws up the only mountain top finish off the tour, up the fifteen kilometre ascent of the Col de la Couillole.
Before then though the riders will roll out from Nice, the starting point for both today and tomorrow’s stage. Once again, the peloton will have to be on the rollers before the start of the stage, with the parcours showing two significant climbs inside the first 30 kilometres of racing.
Up first is the second category climb of the Côte de Gattières, which averages out at a steady gradient of just fewer than five per cent for 4.5 kilometres. It is then a short flat section of road which transitions the riders onto the second climb of the day.
The first category climb of the Col de Vence greets the riders as they travel through 19 kilometres completed point on today’s route. This climb averages out a 6.6 per cent for ten kilometres.
These first two climbs are completed within the first 30 kilometres of the stage, and offer the opportunists the chance of getting away. Today could be penciled in for the breakaway to succeed.
The next 65 kilometres consist of a long gradual descent before the road starts to ride after 100 kilometres completed.
After this point, the next 40 kilometres include the long gradual uphill ascent to the penultimate climb of the day, the category one climb of the Col Saint-Martin. The official section of the climb only records the final 7.5 kilometres at 7.2 per cent in average gradient, however, the climb effectively starts in the town of Roquebilliere, 20 kilometres from the summit of the climb.
From this point, the road rises just under 1000 metres to the top of the climb.
A tricky, technical descent then follows, before the riders face their final test on the days schedule up the long steep slopes of the Col de la Couillole. The 15-kilometre finishing climb averages out at seven per cent, and will give fans and the teams a first real look at who will be contending at each of the three Grand Tours later in the year.
Riders who lost time to their rivals on the individual time trial of Stage 5 will see such a long finish as the perfect place to gain back time. A rider of Simon Yates’s calibre springs to mind.
Today should also be interesting in regards to the King of the Mountains jersey, with three category one climbs, and a solitary second category climb.
With tomorrow’s stage featuring far less menancing climbs, the general classification battle should come to fruition on the slopes of the final climb.
Riders to watch out for today include Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Steven Kruisjwijk (Lotto NL-Jumbo), Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve (Sky), Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), Richie Porte and Nicholas Roche (BMC), Illnur Zakarin (Katusha), and Dan Martin and Julian Alaphillipe (Quick-Step Floors).