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Cycling History: Paris-Nice, the Race to the Sun

Paris-Nice is a famous French cycling race. It's part of the UCI World Tour. The nickname of Paris-Nice is "The Race to the Sun".

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Origin

The founder of Paris-Nice was the French publisher Albert Lejeune. He was the director of the Nice-based newspaper Le Petit Nice and the Paris-based paper Le Petit Journal. The race was created in order to promote these newspapers. The first edition of Paris-Nice was held in 1933.

Paris-Cote d'Azur

The race had a new name in 1951, Paris-Cote d'Azur. The purpose was to promote tourism to the Cote d'Azur. In 1954 the original name Paris-Nice was restored.

Nickname

Paris-Nice is nicknamed "La course au soleil" (The Race to the Sun). What's the origin of the nickname? The event runs in the first half of March. Usually, the race starts in the regions of Paris, in wintry weather conditions. The last stage of the race takes place in Nice, at Southern France, in the spring sunshine of the Cote d'Azur.

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Length

In the early years Paris-Nice comprised six stages. The longest edition of the race was in 1959. It was a race of eleven days. The finish was in Rome (Italy). The event was renamed “Paris-Nice-Rome". This wasn't a huge success. In 1960 the original name was restored. The finish returned to Nice. Since 1962 the race usually comprises nine stages.

First of the season

For many years, Paris-Nice was the first big stage race of the season. In the 21st century this changed, when races like the Tour Down Under (January) and the UAE Tour (February) became part of the UCI World Tour.

Most successful

The most successful rider in the history of Paris-Nice is the Irishman Sean Kelly. He has won the French race seven consecutive times, from 1982 to 1988. Jacques Anquetil (France) has won this race five times (1957, 1961, 1963, 1965 and 1966). Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Joop Zoetemelk (the Netherlands) and Laurent Jalabert (France) have won the general classification of Paris-Nice three times.

Tragedy: Kivilev

On March 11, 2003, the Kazakh rider Andrey Kivilev was racing in the second stage of Paris-Nice. Approximately forty kilometers from the finish, Kivilev collided with Volker Ordowski and Marek Rutkiewicz. The helmetless Kivilev hit the ground with his head. He didn't rise, he was in a coma. Kivilev was taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed a skull fracture and two broken ribs. The next day Kivilev died of his injuries.

Kivilev was a well-known cyclist. He finished the 2001 Tour de France in 4th position. His death was an important trigger for the UCI (international cycling federation) to implement the compulsory wearing of helmets in all races. The UCI had previously tried to introduce the compulsory in 1991, but when many riders protested this, the rule wasn't introduced. The death of Kivilev brought the debate back to the fore. The rules requiring helmets to be worn were affirmed in October 2003.

Bicycle Helmet

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ASO

In 2002, Paris-Nice was obtained by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). The ASO is also the owner of the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana, Paris-Dakar and many other sporting events.

Jersey

For many years, the jersey of the leader of the overall classification in Paris-Nice was white. It changed to a yellow and white jersey in 2002. Since 2008, the leader of the race wears a yellow jersey (just like the leader in the Tour de France).

Route

Usually, the race starts on a Sunday. The first stage most often is a time trial near Paris. The first half of the race is usually relatively flat. The second half contains more hilly stages. Famous finish locations of the stages are the Promenade des Anglais and the Col d'Èze.

Participants

All of the World Tour Teams are on the start list of Paris-Nice. The best Professional Continental Team of the previous season may also participate in the race. Some other Professional Continental Teams may also be invited by the organizers (wildcards). All teams will start with seven riders.

How to watch it live? Official Broadcasters

The official broadcaster for the United States is NBC Sports. Most of Europe can watch Paris-Nice live on their official broadcaster Eurosport. The official broadcaster for Canada is FloBikes (only online).

Official Live Broadcasters:

  • Europe: Eurosport (tv and stream)
  • Canada: FloBikes (only live stream)
  • USA: NBC Sports (tv and stream)
  • Latin America: ESPN (tv and stream)
  • Australia: SBS (tv and stream)
  • The Netherlands: NOS (live stream all stages, tv only on Saturday and Sunday)
  • Belgium: Sporza and RTBF (tv en stream)
  • Italy: RAI Sports (tv and stream)
  • Worldwide: Reuters (live stream)

© 2021 Van Staveren

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