Vingegaard and Pogacar resume battle in Paris-Nice

The first significant stage race of the season, Paris-Nice, kicks off on Sunday, promising a heavyweight bout between last year’s Tour de France top two: Jonas Wingegaard and Tadej Pogacar.

None of them have competed in the Race to the Sun before, preferring it to its Italian equivalent, the Tirreno-Adriatico, which starts on Monday.

Last year, Pogacar, already a two-time Tour de France champion, won comfortably. Wingegaard was second, almost two minutes behind.

However, in July, the Dane deposed Pogacar as King of the Tour de France.

Since then, they have met for the first time in a multi-day event and probably the last time they compete in a multi-day event before this year’s Tour.

While riders have often viewed Paris-Nice as a spring training session, at 24 Pogacar, the UAE Slovenian, has a chance to reassert himself against the 26-year-old Dane Wingegaard of the all-conquering Jumbo-Visma. team.

“Pogacar will want to show that he is a winner,” said Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.

Paris-Nice has been run by the ASO since 2002, which also owns the Tour de France.

“The strength of Paris-Nice is that it projects right into July. It’s really a mini Tour de France with a top finish, a time trial but also flat stages with wind,” Prudhomme added.

Both Pogacar and Wingegaard dominated early season modest racing in Spain.

Pogacar has won five times in six days of racing. Wingegaard won all three stages and, inevitably, the overall standings at the Gran Camino.

“They look like they’re flying,” said France’s Romain Bardet, one of a strong group of potential contenders that also includes Britain’s Simon Yates, Colombia’s Daniel Martinez, France’s David Gaudou and two-time winner Germany’s Max Schachmann.

Slovenian Primoz Roglic, who beat Yeats by 29 seconds and won last year, was missed by Jumbo.

2019 winner Egan Bernal, who nearly died in a crash in his native Colombia last year, has been out of action with a knee injury.

– highest peak –

The top two in the previous Tour de France had not met in Paris-Nice since 1994, when Spaniard Miguel Indurain and Swiss Tony Rominger took part. Rominger won and Indurain finished 35th before defending his Tour title later that year.

The eight-stage race starts on a 165km track west of Paris before heading south.

This gives the sprinters a chance and the field is full of elite speedsters including Arnaud Demar, Brian Cockade, Tim Merlier, Arnaud De Li, Sam Bennett and Mads Pedersen.

The route also includes challenging climbs, including the highest peak in the history of the competition, the 1678m Col de Cuyol, on the penultimate stage.

There are also new items. The team time trial returns after a 30-year absence, but with a new format.

Instead of counting each team’s time for the fourth or fifth rider crossing the line, the clock would stop when the first one to arrive passed.

The idea is that teams will break up when they send their fastest people or leading rivals forward down the road closer to the finish line.

The idea, according to race director François Lemarchand, “is to prevent a team that wins a time trial from putting multiple drivers at the head of the general classification” in a race often decided by seconds.



Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker