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Paris-Nice 2019: Who are the favourites and who will win?

Joe Robinson
8 Mar 2019

From Colombian talent to Northern grit, here are the riders to watch at Paris-Nice

Paris-Nice has had a stroke of luck this year. With rival Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico deciding to ignore the Apennine mountain range in favour of a mixture of flat and rolling stages, any climber looking to get some early-season miles in their legs has opted to race in France.

As a result, the field for the 2019 edition of the 'Race to the Sun' is one of the strongest for years, with plenty of punchy, one-week experts and high-ticket Grand Tour performers all fancying their chances of taking victory on the French Rivera in just over a week's time.

It's no secret that the two most explosive days of racing should come on Stages 6 and 7.

Stage 6 is the race's only true mountain-top finish as the peloton heads to the stunning Col de Turini. A snaking road that climbs for 14.9km at 7.9%, the Turini will be making its debut in Paris-Nice having featured in the Tour de France on three occasions, 1948, 1950 and 1973.

The final day of action will take in the climb Paris-Nice has become famous for – the Col d'Eze outside Nice. A short 110km loop around Nice takes in ascents of the Col d'Eze and Col des Quatre Chemins for good measure. This punchy route has been a deciding factor on the race's eventual winner on more than one occasion.

This exciting parcours has attracted an exciting start list and below, Cyclist assesses the riders you should be keeping an eye on.

Riders to watch at the 2019 Paris-Nice

Egan Bernal - Team Sky

The most talented General Classification rider in the peloton right now? That's up to debate but he is certainly the most anticipated.

Still only 22-years-old, Bernal has already been tipped as a favourite for this May's Giro d'Italia considering the performance he produced at the Tour de France last summer in support of eventual winner Geraint Thomas.

He will head to Paris-Nice sharing leadership roles with Michal Kwiatkowski, a former podium finisher, but it is likely that Bernal will be the main card for Team Sky as they race up the tough Col de Turini.

Paris-Nice has also been a happy hunting ground for Team Sky in its decade-long history. The team has won five of the nine editions it has raced with four different riders. The team has also only been absent from the final podium twice: in the first attempt in 2010 and at last year's race.

It's hard to bet against Bernal.

Simon Yates - Mitchelton-Scott

Simon Yates is surely the most exciting man in cycling outside of the one-day Spring Classics. Strange considering he is a mild-mannered and reserved 26-year-old from Bury.

But he keeps proving, time and time again, that he is not in the business of being boring, he'd much rather win (or emphatically lose) in style.

He showed it with great vigour at last year's Giro d'Italia and picked it back up with an excellent solo win at the Ruta del Sol last month.

His season will be built around Giro retribution but it's hard to see him not travelling to Paris without the urge to win the race, especially considering he lost it on the final day 12 months previous.

He will have his work cut out on the Stage 5 time-trial but apart from that, he should be in a good place. The final day of racing at Paris-Nice favours the brave and there are few braver than Simon Yates.

Bob Jungels - Deceuninck-QuickStep

Bob Jungels is one of the peloton's most versatile riders. He wins on cobbles and in the Ardennes, he wins on mountains and in time-trials. A full package.

He is also in form. A stage win at the Tour Colombia was then backed up by a mesmerising performance at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last weekend

It's why I tip him for Paris-Nice this year. It's got the possibility for a bit of everything and Jungels, accompanied by his outstanding Deceuninck-QuickStep team, has the capabilities to put every other team and rider to the sword at will.

The entire Astana team

Think one-week racing this season and Astana should be the first team that comes to mind. It's only March and yet they already have seven GC jerseys in the cupboard picked up across four continents.

Astana are also taking a team of seven, four of which could conceivably win Paris-Nice overall.

Ion Izagirre finished first (Volta a Valenciana) and second (Ruta del Sol) in his only races so far this season while his brother Gorka has already won the Tour de la Provence.

It's 10 years since Luis Leon Sanchez won Paris-Nice. He routinely animates the race, however, and on current form can't be ruled out as a potential winner. Like the Izagirres, he has also already tasted stage race success in 2019 at the Vuelta a Murcia.

Finally, the team will also have Miguel Angel Lopez, fresh from winning the Tour Colombia in February. With an absurd amount of talent, do not be surprised if Astana dominate the top 10 of GC come the final day.

Nairo Quintana - Movistar

I hope and pray that this is the year of Nairo Quintana. He gets a mountain of stick from journalists and fans alike as a perennial underperformer who has never delivered on the promise he showed at an early age.

Well, if being an underperformer means winning a Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana, two Tirreno-Adriatico titles, Romandie, Basque Country and three Tour de France podium finishes, I'd take it.

Honestly, I hope this is the year that Nairo lets loose and just slays the entire peloton, proving his class in the high mountains, putting minute upon minute into his rivals as he dances up the side of mountain upon mountain.

It's not going to happen, but a boy can dream, right?