In a reprise of last year’s pre-race scenario, Alberto Contador (Astana) is the heavy favourite for Paris-Nice (March 7-14) after winning the Tour of the Algarve.

The big difference is that most of his team-mates have now jumped ship to Team Radioshack. It will be intriguing to see how Astana copes at the season’s first major stage – and indeed, whether Contador even needs a particularly strong team, let alone top form, to beat his rivals.

At Paris-Nice, the biggest threat could come from his compatriots. Luis Leon Sanchez, Contador’s friend and the man who capitalised on his unexpected capitulation to claim the overall title last year, is back again, forming a two-pronged Caisse d’Epargne attack with Alejandro Valverde.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), who perennially go well here, may also have a say, while Liquigas talent Roman Kreuziger has shown good early-season form.

Meanwhile, Team Sky will be led by Simon Gerrans, who is testing his form before the Ardennes Classics. Despite a virus laying low several team members, management are hoping for top-five showings from the Australian.

Greg Henderson also gives the team an option in the flatter stages at the start of the week.

The race kicks off with an 8-kilometre prologue around Montfort-l’Amaury, which will give Britons David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) and Steve Cummings (Team Sky) an opportunity to shine.

After a problem-riddled start to the season, Millar was cautious about his chances: “I got a bit of a slap in the face at the Algarve [he suffered food poisoning and crashed in the time-trial]. I’m just gonna wing it and hope I’m healthy and good to go in Paris-Nice. I want to be a protagonist; we’ll see what happens.”

The Garmin man expects that the crosswinds and cold weather, which the bunch often encounter on the road to Nice, to have their say again. “You have to take it day by day, even hour by hour. You’ve got to not have any rigid plans.”

Rolling stages in the Massif Central will whittle things down, with the highlight a summit finish on the steep climb to Mende on stage four. The Col de Vence, coming 30 kilometres before an uphill finish in Tourettes-sur-Loup, two days later could also prove pivotal.

The race concludes with the customary stage in the Nice hills, taking in the Col de la Porte, la Turbie and the Col d’Eze.

Paris-Nice 2010: Who’s going to win?


Alberto Contador (Spain) Astana

Any stage race featuring mountains makes Contador a favourite. He’s already proved he’s on form by winning the Tour of the Algarve, and a win at Paris-Nice will be another reason for his Tour de France rivals to get itchy. No full-length time trials means he’ll have to attack when it matters to gain time – stage four to Mende would provide the perfect opportunity.


Frank Schleck (Luxembourg) Saxo Bank

Runner-up last year, it’s time Frank Schleck took a big win to stop all of the limelight falling on brother Andy. With a strong team behind him, he’s going to be hard to stop – particularly as he is one of the few riders able to keep up with Contador in the mountains.

Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spain) Caisse d’Epargne

Last year’s Paris-Nice winner gets an automatic inclusion in the favourites list – his only problem may be sharing leadershiop duties with team-mate Valverde. Could well be the first to wear the leader’s jersey after the opening 8km time trial prologue.

Alejandro Valverde (Spain) Caisse d’Epargne

Having won the Tour of the Med in February, Valverde is another rider to have already tasted victory this season. Always a threat. And the race doesn’t go into Italy.


Sylvain Chavanel (France) Quick Step

Third last year, Chavanel will be bouyed by the home fans looking for a solid performance from one of their top riders – and Chavanel usually goes well at Paris-Nice. Good – but not great – performances in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne at the end of February show that he could provide some surprises.

Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack

Leipheimer may not have been able to quite match Contador’s pace in the Tour of the Algarve, but he was one of the few to come close. Has a strong, if rather mature, team to back him up.


Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic) Liquigas

An overall win at the Giro di Sardegna last week has marked the young Czech rider out as on flying form already this year.

Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Transitions

With Bradley Wiggins’ departure to Team Sky, Garmin’s Grand Tour expectations have again been landed in the lap of Vande Velde. A good performance here will set him on the right track for the Tour de France.


Christophe Le Mevel (France) Francaise des Jeux

Tenth last year, the FdJ leader will have to punch hard to reach the top five but an overall win at the Tour de Haut Var last month will have boosted his confidence.

Simon Gerrans (Australia) Team Sky

Gerrans is Sky’s leader for Paris-Nice, but the team has modest aims for the race. A stage victory from the man who has won stages of all three Grand Tours would be a satisfying outcome.

Jens Voigt (Germany) Saxo Bank

Everyone’s favourite hardman will be working for Schleck, but you can expect to see him take an active role in the race – last year he finished less than a minute down on his team leader and was sixth overall.

Paris-Nice 2010: The stages

Stage Date From To Distance

Sunday 7 March Montfort-l’Amaury Montfort-l’Amaury 8km

Monday 8 March Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines Contres 201.5km

Tuesday 9 March Contres Limoges 201km

Wednesday 10 March Saint-Junien Aurillac 208km

Thursday 11 March Maurs Mende 173.5km

Friday 12 March Pernes-les-Fontaines Aix-en-Provence 157km

Saturday 13 March Peynie Tourrettes-sur-Loup 220km

Sunday 14 March Nice Nice 119km

Paris-Nice 2010 route map

Click on the map to enlarge in new window

Paris-Nice 2010: Teams and leaders

Ag2r-La Mondiale (France) – Tadej Valjavec

Astana (Kazakhstan) – Alberto Contador

BBox-Bouygues Telecom (France) – Thomas Voeckler

Caisse d’Epargne (Spain) – Luis-Leon Sanchez

Cervelo Test Team (Switzerland)- Heinrich Haussler

Cofidis (France) – Remi Pauriol

Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain) – Samuel Sanchez

Francaise des Jeux (France) – Christophe Le Mevel

Garmin-Transitions (USA) – Christian Vande Velde

HTC-Columbia (USA) – Tony Martin

Katusha (Russia) – Serguei Ivanov

Lampre-Farnese Vini (Italy) – Damiano Cunego

Liquigas-Doimo (Italy) – Roman Kreuziger

Omega Pharma-Lotto (Belgium) – Philippe Gilbert

Quick Step (Belgium) – Sylvain Chavanel

Rabobank (Netherlands) – Bram Tankink

RadioShack (USA) – Levi Leipheimer

Saur-Sojasun (France) – Jimmy Casper

Saxo Bank (Denmark) – Frank Schleck

Skil-Shimano (Netherlands) – Yann Huguet

Team Sky (Great Britain) – Simon Gerrans

Vacansoleil (Netherlands) – Brice Feillu

Paris-Nice 2010: TV coverage

British Eurosport

Sun 7 March 14.50-16.30 Prologue live, British Eurosport

Mon 8 March 14.15-16.15 Stage 1 live, British Eurosport

Tues 9 March 14.15-16.15 Stage 2 live, British Eurosport

Weds 10 March 14.15-16.15 Stage 3 live, British Eurosport

Thurs 11 March 13.45-15.30 Stage 4 live, British Eurosport

Fri 12 March 15.00-16.15 Stage 5 live, British Eurosport

Sat 13 March 13.15-15.45 Stage 6 live, British Eurosport

Sun 14 March 12.45-14.00 Stage 7 live, British Eurosport

Paris-Nice 2010: British riders

Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo)

Roger Hammond (Cervelo)

Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo)

David Millar (Garmin-Transitions)

Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky)

Russell Downing (Team Sky)

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)

Steve Cummings (Team Sky)

Final podium (l-r): Sylvain Chavanel (third), Luis Leon Sanchez (winner), Frank Schleck (second)

Paris-Nice: 2009 top ten

1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne in 30-53-51

2. Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 1-00

3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step at 1-09

4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 1-24

5. Antonio Colom (Spa) Team Katusha at 1-47

6. Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank at 1-59

7. Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quick Step at 2-29

8. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano at 2-57

9. Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBox Bouygues Telecom at 3-37

10. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at 4-00

Paris-Nice: Recent winners

2009 Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spain) Caisse d’Epargne

2008 Davide Rebellin (Italy) Gerolsteiner

2007 Alberto Contador (Spain) Discovery Channel

2006 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak

2005 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC

2004 Jorg Jaksche (Germany) CSC

2003 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) Telekom

2002 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) Telekom

2001 Dario Frigo (Italy) Fassa Bortolo

2000 Andreas Kloden (Germany) Telekom

Related links

Paris-Nice 2010: Stage reports

three: Sagan is the new kid on the block

two: William Bonnet wins in Limoges after chaotic finish

one: Sky’s Henderson wins as wind splits bunch

Boom beats the big names to win

Paris-Nice 2010:
News, comment and analysis

three shortened due to snow

blown off bike during time trial

2010: The Big Preview

Paris-Nice 2010: Photo

three photo gallery by Graham Watson

two photo gallery by Graham Watson

one photo gallery by Graham Watson

photo gallery by Graham Watson

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