Paris-Nice, the Race to the Sun, began in 1933 and is traditionally the first major stage race on the European calendar, and is the second WorldTour event of 2012. Beginning in a suburb of Paris, the race features eight stages and culminates with an uphill time trial in Nice.
Paris-Nice is usually the first time the big hitters on the world cycling stage show their form. The Tirreno-Adriatico (starting on Wednesday) usually attracts sprinters preparing for the spring classics, while Paris-Nice’s start-list is filled with grand tour contenders and climbers.
The race will be determined by three stages: the first stage, a 9.4 kilometer individual time trial, stage five, featuring a summit finish on the the Cote de la Croix Neuve (the summit finish that Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Contador battled on for a stage win, and where Andy Schleck lost precious time in the 2010 Tour de France), and a 9.6 individual uphill time trial on the Col d'Eze on the final day. Last year’s winner, Tony Martin, returns to defend his title, but the uphill time trial, and lack of flat time trial miles will be impediments in defending his title, and perhaps an explosive climber will be the champion of this Paris-Nice.
Here are ten riders who will feature prominently at this year’s race.