38.5km to go
The gap continues to fall. 1:15 now.
Jumbo have slipped right back now, though, as DSM and BikeExchange dictate the tempo on this uphill section. It’s not a categorised climb but, at this pace, it hurts. A sizeable gruppetto now.
Here’s Roglic in the Jumbo train a little earlier.
Bouhanni and a few others are being dropped here as the pace increases. It was a fairly calm Jumbo line but other teams like BikeExchange and DSM are heading to the front now.
43km to go
The road now begins to tilt uphill as we head towards the first intermediate sprint. The gap has come down to 1:30 and the pace is strong in the peloton now.
A reminder of the overall standings in advance of the final climb
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 23:22:53
2 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:41
3 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 00:00:50
4 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech 00:00:51
5 Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team 00:01:08
6 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM 00:01:14
7 Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange 00:01:16
8 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 00:01:21
9 Pierre Latour (Fra) Total Direct Energie 00:01:21
10 Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 00:01:23
11 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 00:01:25
12 Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 00:01:25
13 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 00:01:30
14 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 00:01:41
15 Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 00:01:46
It’s hard to see past Roglic today, given his imperious form. However, climbers like David Gaudu, Guillaume Martin, and Alexandr Vlasov should be in with more of a shout against the Slovenian.
This is a preamble to La Colmiane now. The climb is fast becoming a fixture of Paris-Nice, used here for the third time in four years. In 2018, Simon Yates won, while last year it was Nairo Quintana.
In 2018, Yates put 46 seconds into eventual winner Marc Soler, while Quintana last year put the same margin between himself and second-placed Tiesj Benoot, with Max Schachmann hanging onto his overall lead despite losing almost a minute.
47.5km to go
The leading group has been brought back to just over two minutes as Jumbo-Visma raise the pace on the flatter ground.
61km to go
Back in the race, the break have found some more ground as we zip downhill. 2:40 is the gap now.
Some follow-up headlines after the Freeman verdict. This is undoubtedly a major blow to the reputations of both Ineos Grenadiers and British Cycling, and there is still much left unexplained, plus new charges of course from UK Anti-Doping.
Blockbuster stages today in France and Italy, but the shockwaves continue after yesterday’s blockbuster news from the UK. Richard Freeman, the former doctor for Team Sky and British Cycling, was found guilty at his medical tribunal of ordering testosterone (a banned substance) “knowing or believing” it was for a rider.
Now for a downhill section. Even without Tony Martin, Jumbo-Visma appear to have this under control.
He didn’t need to, but Perez bagged maximum points there as well.
70km to go
At the top of the Côte Saint-Antonin, the 13-rider breakaway has a lead of 2:25 over the Jumbo-Visma-led peloton.
Polka-dot Perez there in the break. With the points at the those first two climbs, he has indeed won that jersey for good – there simply aren’t enough points left on the road the rest of today or tomorrow for anyone to catch him. All he needs to do is stay upright.
The gap reaches two minutes on the Saint-Antonin. Jumbo-Visma are leading the peloton behind the 13-rider break.
78km to go
1:50 is the gap as we head onto the Saint-Antonin climb. Pedersen’s counter is over – he’s back in the bunch now.
Over the top of Sigale and it’s Perez who once again gets there first. The Cofidis man is already in the polka-dot jersey and is looking to cement his lead in that mountains classification today.
1. Perez 5 points
2. De Plus 3 points
3. Bennett 2 points
4. Teuns 1 point
Bennett up there in green, as if it’s nothing. The Irish sprinter has already won two stages but fancies a day out today, and the way he made it into this move at a time when the likes of Démare were getting dropped says a lot about his form. He’s started the season really well and looks in really good shape for Milan-San Remo, as do his team, who will also have Alaphilippe and Ballerini next Saturday.
Here’s a first shot of the break.
Nearing the top of Sigale and the gap is 1:50.
We’re on the climb and the break have actually found some more ground. 1:45 is the gap now. Pedersen is still in no man’s land!
Given this break is little more than a minute up the road, we could see some more attacks and action from the bunch on these climbs. It’s a shorter stage, but the intensity could make up for the loss of distance.
90km to go
The gap is holding at around 1:25 as we approach the pair of cat-2 climbs. It’s the Col de la Sigale (6.6km at 5.5%), shortly followed by the Côte de Saint-Antonin (6.2km at 5.3%).
A huge day at Paris-Nice but also a huge day at Tirreno-Adriatico, with a summit finish at Prati di Tivo. Can Wout Van Aert hang with with the climbers? My colleague Daniel Ostanek has live coverage of that one.
98km to go
1:30 is the gap now. It has edged out but this break isn’t being ‘let go’
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) had launched a solo bid to get across to the break, and he’s still stuck in the middle.
Jumbo-Visma are indeed on the front of the peloton, pegging this break at 1:15 for the time being.
For the full results and standings following yesterday’s stage, here’s the link you need.
The group has a lead of 50 seconds, but this is one that Roglic and his Jumbo-Visma team need to keep a close eye on. Cattaneo is only 2 minutes down on GC, and Teuns, Mader, and Powless are all within 2:30.
Here are the 13 riders in this break
Neilson Powless (EF-Nippo), Andrey Amador and Laurens De Plus (Ineos Grenadiers), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Julien Bernard and Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), David de la Cruz (UAE Team Emirates), Sam Bennett and Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Dylan Teuns and Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious).
Over the top and this breakaway attempt has found a little more ground. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is in there…
David Gaudu (FDJ) is back after a mechanical. We have a story on the Frenchman this morning. He’s been suffering from that crash with Tao Geoghegan Hart but is hoping to do something today. Here it is.
These were the first four to the top of the climb
1. Anthony Perez 5 points
2. Julien Bernard 3 points
3. Thomas De Gendt 2 points
4. David de la Cruz 1 point
The riders reach the top of the Gilette. The gaps are still small.
We’ve got a group of around 15 with a gap. De Gendt is among them.
Neilson Powless (EF-Nippo) has a dig off the front. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is looking lively too. No break yet but plenty of riders being spat out the back of the bunch.
Three non-starters today: Maximilian Walscheid (Qhubeka Assos), Patrick Bevin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix).
The riders have reached the end of the neutral zone and the race has been waved underway. Immediately we’re climbing.
The Gilette was not originally on the menu, but the final two stages have had to be altered due to COVID-19. Not because of new restrictions, but actually the opposite – Nice is easing restrictions and the mayor doesn’t want a bike race blocking the streets and access to the seafront.
Anyway, today’s stage has been reduced from 166.5km to 119.2km. Besides the distance, the big change is the lack of the first-cat Col de Vence, for which the Gilette doesn’t really make up. After that, it’s the same parcours from km 71, with a pair of cat-2 climbs followed by the approach to the big final climb, which measures 16.3km at 6.3%.
We’re about to get underway. Many, many riders warming up on the rollers this morning. That’s because of the uphill start, with the route tackling the Côte de Gilette from kilometre-zero. It’s 6.6km at 4.9% and it’s sure to be a fast and furious start to the day.
The scene at the start in Le Broc. The race to the sun lives up to its name.
Bonjour Le Broc 👋#ParisNice pic.twitter.com/2adYR7BsoGMarch 13, 2021
Bonjour and welcome along to the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice. We’ve survived the cold, windy conditions of the north and we’ve now reached the south in the ‘race to the sun’, where the final weekend often serves up some fantastic racing.
We have a slightly altered parcours today, but what hasn’t changed is the marquee summit finish at La Colmiane. There’s room for manoeuvre on the final day tomorrow but this is, on paper at least, the most decisive stage of the race.