Paris-Nice, the stage race in France that is happening this week, is certainly steeped in tradition. But the organizers of the race that has been around since 1933 are not too stodgy to try something new.
Running from March 5 to 12, the 2023 edition of Paris-Nice will cover 1,201 kilometers. And that pesky final kilometer in the team time trial in stage 3 might just end up being one of the more important ones in the entire race.
How to watch Paris-Nice
In the US, the entire 8-stage Paris-Nice race will be “raceing to the sun” and streaming live and available on demand on Peacock.com.
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This year, stage three will consist of a 32.2km team time trial (TTT), which will be ridden in team format but timed individually. The change in timing strategy will make the stage even more interesting and exciting to watch.
How this new format could change the team strategy
In stage 3, 7-person teams will ride together, but times will be based on the first rider across the finish line, rather than the fourth, as is the usual format. Where a traditional TTT requires rotating pulls and keeping a tight group, dynamics might look a little different at Paris-Nice.
Another change is the scoring. Where a normal TTT gives the four riders in the lead bunch the time of the fourth rider and any dropped rider an individual time, in the new structure, all riders are timed individually.
So what can we expect?
This format was used in the UAE Tour in February, where Soudal-QuickStep took the victory with only a one-second margin ahead of EF Education-EasyPost.
Because the time won’t be taken from the fourth rider, as usual, but the first rider across the line, that will make it less likely for one team to dominate.
Cycling Weekly talked to six-time British time trial champion, Alex Dowsett, who called the new TTT structure “brilliant.” He said, “The most efficient way of doing the race will be to have your GC guy dropped off with 500m to go." It will be a different time trial to watch—to see how the group works around a single lead rider.
According to Cycling Weekly’s Dr. Michael Hutchinson, “I think it will look like a normal team time trial early on, just in the second half, we're going to see a lot more riders being shed out the back.”
It should be interesting to watch how different groups approach the stage, and see how the TTT sets things up to be more competitive throughout the entire race.