Six British riders will line up for the opening European WorldTour stage race starting on Sunday: Paris-Nice

TAGS:

British cycling fans have plenty to catch their attention during Paris-Nice (March 6-13) this year, with a strong selection of six riders taking part: Daniel McLay, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates.

All six are under 30 and offer an exciting mix of prospects for stage and overall aspirations. Thomas in particular will be gunning for overall victory and he will be looking to make an impression straight away in the race’s opening time trial on Sunday.

Here’s our quick guide to the six Brits in the 2016 edition of Paris-Nice.

>>> 11 riders to watch at Paris-Nice

Daniel McLay

Dan McLay wins Otley Grand Prix 2015

Dan McLay

Age: 24
Home town: Born in Wellington, New Zealand, brought up in Leicester
Team: Fortuneo-Vital Concept (France)

Like so many successful British road riders, McLay started his cycling life with wins on the track, taking various under-14 and junior national titles and a Madison junior world title with Simon Yates (see below) in 2010.

McLay signed his first pro contract for Bretagne-Séché Environnement (now renamed Fortuneo-Vital Concept) in 2015 after riding for the Lotto development team. He will be looking to build on his result in last year’s Paris-Nice, where he placed eighth on stage five.

Luke Rowe

Luke Rowe leads at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2016

Luke Rowe

Age: 25
Home town: Cardiff, Wales
Team: Sky (Great Britain)

Fourth in last weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad shows that Rowe is in great shape this season. As he eyes the up-coming Spring Classics, the Welshman will be riding Paris-Nice in support of Sky leader Geraint Thomas.

Expect to see Rowe joining Stannard at the front of the peloton to smash out a relentless pace on at least a couple of days during the race – although their hard work is often done before the TV coverage starts rolling.

Ian Stannard (GBr)

Ian Stannard

Ian Stannard

Age: 28
Home town: Chelmsford, Essex
Team: Sky (Great Britain)

Like Rowe (see above), Stannard will be riding Paris-Nice in support of team leader Geraint Thomas and to keep his fitness levels up for the impending Spring Classics, where he will be one of Sky’s main options for Paris-Roubaix this year having elected not to defend his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad win from 2015.

‘Yogi’ is a powerhouse of a rider, whose ability to sustain a huge effort over a long distance, and then do it all again, will mark him out as one of the race’s finest super-domestiques.

Ben Swift (GBr)

British sprinter Ben Swift put himself in the overall lead of the Ruta del Sol after placing third and second on stages two and three. He wore the red jersey during the time trial stage, but lost it to TT winner Tejay van Garderen.

Ben Swift

Age: 28
Home town: Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Team: Sky (Great Britain)

Swift is Sky’s main option for bunch sprints as Elia Viviani finishes riding for Italy in the Track World Championships in London and then turns his attention to Tirreno-Adriatico.

By his own admission, Swift is better from a small lead group than an out-and-out full peloton gallop, but his ability to place consistently in stage races has already netted him the points classification in the Ruta del Sol this year.

Geraint Thomas (GBr)

Geraint Thomas after stage 5 of the 2016 Volta ao Algarve

Geraint Thomas

Age: 29
Home town: Cardiff, Wales
Team: Sky (Great Britain)

Thomas is one of the top contenders in this year’s Paris-Nice. It’s a race that suits his abilities well with an opening time trial, rolling stages and mountains compressed into a week. It will be interesting to see how he fares given that he will be riding for himself and not in the service of last year’s winner Richie Porte.

There’s a feeling that many eyes will be on Thomas to see what he can really deliver, as a precursor to being given outright leadership for a Grand Tour. An overall win in the Volta ao Algarve already this year shows that he is on the right track.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates in action during the 2016 Drome Classic

Simon Yates

Age: 23
Home town: Bury, Greater Manchester
Team: Orica-GreenEdge (Australia)

Yates goes into Paris-Nice as Orica-GreenEdge’s main hope for the general classification, although the Australian team won’t be piling on the pressure for him to win. It’s still early days for the 23-year-old, but whether he’s riding the race for ‘experience’ or not, it’s likely we’ll see Yates in the mix on the mountain stages.

Top five places in last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour of the Basque Country show he can be up there with the best. A big win – like his brother Adam’s victory in Clasica San Sebastian last year – cannot be far away.