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The Race to the Sun, from Paris to Nice

The 2021 Paris–Nice was the 79th edition of the road cycling stage race, that was held between 7 and 14 March 2021 in France. The winner of the race, German Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) retained his Paris-Nice crown after one of the most sensational finales of the Race to the Sun.

The 2021 Paris–Nice was the 79th edition of the road cycling stage race, that was held between 7 and 14 March 2021 in France. The winner of the race, German Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) retained his Paris-Nice crown after one of the most sensational finales of the Race to the Sun.

Photo: Getty Images

Paris–Nice is a professional cycling stage race in France, held annually since 1933. Raced over eight days, the race usually starts with a prologue in the Paris region and ends with a final stage either in Nice or on the Col d’Èze overlooking the city. The event is nicknamed The Race to the Sun, as it runs in the first half of March, typically starting in cold and wintry conditions in the French capital before reaching the spring sunshine on the Côte d’Azur. The hilly course in the last days of the race favours stage racers who often battle for victory. As one of the iconic races of cycling, Paris–Nice is part of the UCI World Tour as the competition’s second race of the season, the first in Europe.

The final stage of the 2021 race saw runaway race leader Primoz Roglic crash, falter and lose the crown which seemed within almost certain reach. Roglic, who held a 52-second lead over Schachmann heading into the day, first hit the deck on an early descent after passing through the finish line on the hilly 36km circuit. He was quickly back up and running, with torn shorts and road rash on his left hip, but later on while racing in the valley, some 25 kilometres out from the finish, he was caught out in a split in the peloton, and it quickly emerged that he had crashed for a second time. The first crash left the Slovenian ace with a dislocated shoulder, but he still gave it his all and finished the race.

“How to say it? It’s not the stage we were hoping for. I did some mistakes today. With the first one I dislocated the left shoulder and then one more time… I just gave it my all but unfortunately couldn’t catch the first guys anymore. It’s a pity but we’ll go on to the next races” Roglic said after the race.

Photo: Getty Images

With three stage wins at Paris-Nice 2021, Roglic already joined a select club of Paris-Nice specialists on his first visit. With a dramatic win of Stage 7, on the penultimate day of the race, he claimed his 50th career victory. He has been so impressive all week that it was to much of a surprise and really sad to see him lose the race on the last day.

In Roglic’s teammate George Bennett’s words: “He’s insane. I’ve never seen him so good, if I’m honest. I think this is the best he’s ever been. He’s just such a special rider. I’m happy he’s on my team.”

Primoz Roglic, a Slovenian racing cyclist who rides for Team Jumbo-Visma, is the current world No. 1 ranked road cyclist in the UCI World Ranking. He is a two-time Vuelta winner, having won the Spanish race for two consecutive years, in 2019 and 2020. At Tour de France 2020 he finished in second place, having lost the yellow jersey on the penultimate day at the individual time trial to Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

Photo: Team Jumbo Visma

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