Who's going to top the GC at Paris-Nice? Seven contenders to watch out for

It might be billed as the Vingegaard vs Pogačar show, but there's more depth to the GC than you might think

Jonas Vingegaard Tadej Pogačar
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Paris-Nice begins on Sunday, the traditional beginning to European stage racing once more bringing up the curtain. And with what style in 2023, with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), first and second at last year's Tour de France, battling it out between La Verrière and Nice.

Over eight stages, those hoping to pull on the final maillot jaune in the south of France will battle it out over the flat, against the clock, and on proper summit finishes.

Pogačar and Vingegaard might be the headline acts, but there is a lot more depth to the names of those challenging for general classification than this pair, with most teams bringing at least one option for the overall. It's going to be a crowded top ten.

This isn't to mention the sprinters and puncheurs who will be hoping to get something out of the eight days away from the GC, from Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) to Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). It's an intriguing start list.

However, here are seven options for the top step of the podium next Sunday.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

Tadej Pogačar

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The man who looks like he could win every race at present turns his attention to Paris-Nice, a race he has never taken part in before, usually preferring its Italian alternative, Tirreno-Adriatico. Therefore, we don’t know how the Slovenian will go on French soil in March, but we’re sure he will impress.

So far this season he has won the Clasica Jaén and the Ruta del Sol overall, which means five races in total. Not a bad taking from just seven opportunities.

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

Jonas Vingegaard

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not one to lay low while his great rival Pogačar shows off, Vingegaard also won his first race he took part in this year last Friday at O Gran Camiño. The Dane has also never raced Paris-Nice, but will hope to land a blow on his Slovenian counterpart.

His Jumbo-Visma team also looks incredibly strong for the team time trial, which might well decide the direction of the race.

Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla)

Simon Yates

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Yates loves this early season French race, and finished second last year after winning the final stage to Nice. Expect him to challenge on the final Sunday, if nowhere else, but this will be an interesting guide to his form.

The man from Bury won a stage at the Tour Down Under back in January, proving that he is switched on already in 2023, but challenging Vingegaard and Pogačar will be a big challenge.

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)

David Gaudu

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The great French hope has been in the news in 2023 for criticising his teammate Arnaud Démare, but will look to let his form do the talking on the roads of France. He was quiet at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, but might wake up in time for this race.

At the Ardèche races, he could have quite easily come away with two victories, but instead finished second at the Faun-Ardèche, and fourth at the Faun Drôme. Expect him to try his thing when the race heads uphill.

Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers)

Dani Martínez

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Already a GC title winner this year, claiming the yellow jersey at the Volta ao Algarve, the Colombian will probably lead his Ineos team at Paris-Nice in the absence of his compatriot Egan Bernal. The eight day-race will show how he stacks up against the true favourites.

The TTT could be an opportunity for some funky Ineos Grenadiers tactics as they try and resurrect their dominance in the race that they won every year, once upon a time.

Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost)

Neilson Powless

(Image credit: Getty Images)

An outside bet for a tilt at the general classification is the American, who looks better than ever coming into 2023. He won Etoile de Bessèges and the GP Marseillaise, and was third at Alpes Maritimes, so clearly has the form to make a mark. Look out for him on the queen stage.

With his results being so good in France so far this year, perhaps the bleu blanc rouge has rubbed off on the 26-year-old, already into his fourth year with EF Education-EasyPost. One wonders whether the Garmin heritage will help in the TTT.

Romain Bardet (DSM)

Romain Bardet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Romain Bardet looked so good last year, up until his problems at the Giro d'Italia. The Frenchman will be hoping to recapture some of that magic at the start of 2023, as he tackles a WorldTour race for the first time since October.

He has been solid if not spectacular so far in the French events he has raced, so perhaps he has been riding into form ready for the perfect opportunity in the Race to the Sun. Perhaps.

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