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Riviera Pebbles Blog: What's On: Paris-Nice 2016

Posted on 11th Feb 2016 in What's On


Mike Slone©

March is almost upon us and that can only mean one thing- the return of the Race to the Sun: Amaury Sport Organisation’s (ASO) Paris-Nice.

It’s the first major stage race of the cycling calendar and a common choice for big names looking to build form in the run up to the Tour de France. It was here Sir Bradley Wiggins’ winning streak began in 2012- a year that saw him take both the Yellow Jersey at the Tour and a Gold Medal in the Individual Time Trial at the London Olympic Games. This year, ASO have chosen a familiar yet foreign parcours. It features a climb up the legendary Mont Ventoux juxtaposed with the limestone and gravel paths of the road to Vendôme.

For Nice, the classic finale along the Promenade des Anglais has been paired with a slog up the isolated slopes of the lesser known La Madone d’Utelle. There’s certainly a long list of potential contenders: Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, and Fabio Aru are all tipped to make an appearance. Last year’s winner Rich Porte will be looking to defend his 2015 title while also staking a claim in his new BMC Racing colours.

As tradition dictates, the final two stages will take place in and around Nice. Let’s see what they have in store…

Stage 6 - 12.03.16

Today the racing begins in Nice and strays inland for a collection of well known ramps to any local pros and expats.The finish at the Utelle is new for the race and particularly impressive setting. At 5.7% average over 15 kilometres it’s neither easy nor pleasant and not unlike a mini-version of last summer’s summit finish at La Pierre St Martin. Cycling blog The Inner Ring says: “Chris Froome or Richie Porte will look to attack here and go into TT mode moments later once the gradient eases”.

Where to watch it:

You’ll want to get down to the start village for Saturday’s stage. As one of the smaller stage races, security is relatively lax and you’ll have much more of chance of getting close to the riders as they warm up than you would usually do in the scrum at the Tour de France. The more adventurous of you may want to head out and grab a spot at the intermediate-sprints of Levens and Coursegoules. It’s definitely a good day to venture out into the hills. If you’re considering sampling the route yourself, there’s a great selection of quality road bikes available for hire at The Café du Cycliste on Nice Port - you can find out more about what they have on offer the end of this post. Alternatively, you can hire an auto-bleue electric car - there are stations across the wider Nice area and cars can be easily booked in advance online.

Stage 7 - 13.03.16

Stage 7 is a loop around Nice and features a Paris-Nice staple: the Col d’Eze. The day is packed full of short sharp climbs and dangerous descents. The finale? A sprint down the iconic Promenade des Anglais.

Where to watch it:

To get up close and personal with the pain and fear of professional cycling, take the Number 82 Bus (Ligne Vauban - Plateau de la Justice) to the Col d'Èze and get set up on Avenue des Diables Bleus. If you are out for some good old fashioned rubber-necking, head east at the Port towards the hills of Mont Boron- last year saw Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas take a slide on a damp descent, ultimately losing a podium position in the final general classification. Alternatively, you can watch the final sprint along the Promenade des Anglais. There will be a big screen up showing full coverage of the race along with live commentary and updates over a PA. If you’re lucky, you might even get your hands on a celebratory bidon from an enthusiastic soigneur.

Who to look out for:

The official start-list is yet to be announced but there are a lot of interesting prospects already tipped to be racing. 2015 winner Richie Porte may very well return to defend his title while Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas looks to be a strong contender for week long stage races in 2016. Alberto Contador of Tinkoff is said to be riding, as is Team Astana’s Fabio Aru.

Special Offers:

If this has piqued your interest, why not make a last minute trip to watch the race? Nice Pebbles is offering an exclusive discount on any booking made over the race weekend to listeners of The Telegraph Cycling Podcast. You can find out about the offer by listening to the episode below or on The Cycling Podcast Website.

That’s not all! We have also teamed up with premium cycling brand Café du Cycliste who is offering a 15% reduction on any bike hired from their emporium on Nice Port between Friday 11 – Monday 14 March 2016. Just quote ‘RIDENP’ when you make your booking in store, by phone, or here on their website.


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