Stage seven is the queen stage and a quite simple one. It is a short day on the bike which starts in Nice, and will see the long but not steep ascent of the Côte de Tourette-du-Château which is 17.8 kilometers at 4.6%. However with no doubts this is a day that is set to have one decisive effort. Additionally it is only 143 kilometers long, a short day in the saddle.
Start Time: 11:00CET
Finish Time: 14:50CET
All eyes on the Col de la Couillole. Last used here in 2017 where Richie Porte took a victory, it's a proper mountain in the Alpes Maritimes. It's the queen stage perhaps, not the only one where gaps will be made, but definitely the hardest effort of the race.
It is 15.8 kilometers long at 7.3%. The summit finish takes place at almost 1700 meters of altitude and the day also has 3600 meters of climbing. It's a very consistent climb without any meaningful irregularities throughout the day. At the summit, the overall classification winner may be almost decided, although the final day will still be quite dangerous.
In the exposed grounds the wind gusts may be strong from the northwest. Weather has definitely brought in a lot of damage for the race, tomorrow it may lead to a cross/cross-headwind on the final ascent, largely a headwind throughout the day but it should be hidden by the mountains.
Profiles & Route Paris-Nice 2023
Tadej Pogacar - Pogacar is most likely the man to beat and the absolute favourite to win the stage. He's done so on the previous summit finish despite a lot of tactical play. The long ascent will suit Vingegaard more, but Pogacar doesn't really have a weak spot and on an ascent like this you don't really have the opportunity to surprise.
Jonas Vingegaard - Jonas Vingegaard doesn't have much to lose here. He is likely to go on the offensive once again as Pogacar doesn't have the need to, and most other riders will likely ride conservative. Jumbo don't have the team to push the pace but for the Dane finishing third or anywhere else further down the Top10 must be no different. This climb will suit him better, the high mountains are the terrain where Vingegaard thrives and it could lead to a tighter battle.
David Gaudu - Gaudu sits second and close to Pogacar. The current situation is the best Gaudu could be hoping for at this point of the race and most likely he will want to keep it - and possibly have the legs to surprise or benefit from a mishap on the final day. This time around Gaudu is the main rival for Pogacar and will not have the freedom, but he is likely to stay in second at the end of the day.
Gino Mäder - Mäder rode under the radar but at a very high level on the first summit finish of the race. Sitting fifth in the overall classification he could definitely move up if he has another day like that. Bahrain have a strong team behind him with other options and they could definitely be interested in making moves if they sense someone around is having a bad day.
Simon Yates - The ultimate wildcard. Yates had a very strong team time-trial and start to the race, but his performance at La Loge des Gardes was underwhelming. The longer ascent now could see a different Yates, but he will need much better legs if he wants to make a difference.
The rest of the field will most likely look to race at pace and try to finish as high as possible. The difference to the front, at the time being, is very large and those riders would benefit from a conservative ride. Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Kévin Vauquelin have shown great form on the opening mountain stage, however they both remain outside the Top10 and will look to move up the GC.
In a normal day the likes of Romain Bardet and Daniel Martínez would aim higher. This is a summit finish that suits them better and they are unlikely to settle with sixth and seventh in the overall classification.
Mattias Skjelmose, Matteo Jorgenson, Ion Izagirre, Pierre Latour, Jack Haig and Wout Poels will all be outsiders and riders within a possibility of racing for a strong result, as well as going through the Top10 and places around it.
Prediction Paris-Nice 2023 stage 7:
*** Tadej Pogacar
** Jonas Vingegaard, David Gaudu
* Gino Mäder, Simon Yates, Daniel Martínez, Romain Bardet, Aurélien Paret-Peintre, Kévin Vauquelin
Pick: Tadej Pogacar