Once again the Paris-Nice overall title would be decided on the final day of the race on the 110km route around the hills outside the city.
Saturday’s mountain stage left the overall competition precariously placed, with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) leading by 11 seconds but with much of the top-10 within reaching distance of the title.
Yates, who took victory on the penultimate stage, would be looking to claim his first career overall victory, but would face competition from the likes of Gorka and Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Dylan Theuns (BMC) and Marc Soler (Movistar).
Paris-Nice, nicknamed the ‘Race To The Sun’, dates back to 1933 and sees riders tackle eight days of racing, including flat stages, mountains stages and a time trial as the race works its way southwards through France.
The key stages of the 2018 race will be stage four’s 18.4-kilometre individual time trial; climbing stages six and seven; and the final stage around Nice itself.
Sergio Henao (Team Sky) took the victory at Paris-Nice last season, the first stage race win of his career.
The Colombian moved into yellow on the penultimate day of the race, as home favourite Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) dropped out of contention.
Henao and Alaphilippe both return for 2018, and are joined on the start list by other general classification hopefuls such as Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Henao’s team-mate Wout Poels (Team Sky), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Esteban Chaves, Simon Yates (both Mitchelton-Scott), and Gorka and Ion Izagirre (both Bahrain-Merida).
Sprinters in the race will have several opportunities to grab a win, with Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) among the fastmen in attendance.