Former winner of both the points and best young rider jerseys at Paris-Nice, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) will be joined at this year’s race by seven teammates: national champions Sam Bennett, a three-time stage winner here, Michael Mørkøv, and Bob Jungels, Zdenek Stybar, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne victor Kasper Asgreen, Tim Declercq and Yves Lampaert, two other riders who have enjoyed a solid and impressive outing on the Opening Weekend.
It will be the 78th edition of the race and it runs between the 8th and 15th of March. Three flat stages, two for attackers and those targeting the KOM jersey, a hilly individual time trial held in Alaphilippe’s hometown of Saint-Amand-Montrond, and two days that will seriously test the climbers make up the course of the “Race to the Sun”, which this season, for the first time in many years, won’t include the iconic Col d’Èze, a climb that has been decisive in the fight for the general classification on numerous occasions.
“Paris-Nice is one of the most prestigious stage races of the calendar and we are heading there determined to get some good results and add to the 15 stages won at the past editions. We have two leaders, Julian and Sam, who will both find stages that suit them and will be supported by a strong team comprising riders who have shown a good form recently and can control the race, but at the same time, seize the opportunity if it arises.”
“The main goal is to win stages, but we could take an aim also at the general classification, depending on how things will go day by day. Not just the terrain will be important, but also the weather, as there’s a big chance of having some echelons on the first three stages, so we’ll have to remain alert and at all times focused”, explained sports director Tom Steels, who as a rider won six Paris-Nice stages in the ‘90s.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere explained the team’s decision to be at the start of the event: “While we understand why other teams have chosen not to race, we have decided that we will follow the guidelines set in place by the local authorities and the race organisers, and have faith in their assessment that it is safe for us to race. The health of our riders and staff is of course a priority and we will take all the necessary precautions to protect them, while still honouring our commitment to an important race.”