In His Own Words: Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage Previews Paris-Nice

Fri 1 Mar 2013

Paris-Nice begins on Sunday. One of two March stage races that reveals a sense of form ahead of the classics, the eight day French Tour features something for everyone with a prologue, time trial and a good mix of sprint and hilly stages. Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage will be behind the wheel when the race begins in Houilles. In his own words, he previews what promises to be an action-packed week of racing.

People call Paris-Nice “The Race to the Sun”, but in last year’s edition, we never saw the sun. The weather for this race can go in all different directions. We’ve had years with sun every day. We’ve had years that saw the wind play a huge factor. We’ve had years that they’ve had to cancel stages because of cold and snow. It’s important to be ready for any condition.

Alongside Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Nice is the race riders want to do in order to hone their form for the classics. Team Sky is taking a different approach and will be at camp in Tenerife as part of their preparation. Aside from the Team Sky classics guys, the riders that want to be on the top step at Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold, Flèche and Liège are all here.

We bring riders that we expect to target stage wins. We also have Michael Albasini, who is the type of rider that can maybe go for a good overall results without specifically target the general classification too much.

Looking at our line-up as a whole, here’s what we might expect from each of our riders:

Michael Albasini: Alba is our man who can go for a good general classification result but his main goal, in cooperation with Simon Gerrans will be to target specific stages for stage wins.

Simon Gerrans: Gerro’s main objective this spring is Milan San Remo. His work at Paris-Nice is to further his preparation for this goal. He will also choose stages to target where he will work with Albasini to go for a stage win.

Leigh Howard: Leigh already won two races in Majorca against a strong field of sprinters. We’re confident that he will perform well on the sprint stages here and are prepared to support him in that goal

Baden Cooke: Cookie is a very important rider for the team at any race. He will be the captain on the road as he continues to hone his form towards his best condition ahead of the classics.

Fumy Beppu: An important team player, we can count on Fumy to commit himself to the team plan every day. Fumy will support our stage win objectives.

Jens Keukeleire: I want this to be a low-stress race for Jens. He is fully focused on the classics coming up, and Paris-Nice is another part of his preparation.

Simon Clarke: Simon returns to racing following tooth surgery. We are ready to give him the support he needs to come back at his own pace.

Michael Matthews: Michael will receive a free role to take opportunities that come his way. He’s the full package with the ability to surprise on stages of varied terrain.

Looking at the race stage by stage, I can say that while we’ll look to take our chances every day, there are certain stages that suit us better than others. Leigh Howard produces his best results when the sprinters have to work hard ahead of the line. Stages three and four fit this description, and we’ll hope to line up our sprint train for Leigh on these two days. Aside from the sprints, we have our eyes on the summit finish of stage five as a day that could be good for Albasini and Gerrans.

Watch the race LIVE: Eurosport Australia's coverage of the Paris-Nice begins on Monday 4/3 with the Prologue LIVE from 1:45AM. Stage 1 is LIVE from 12:45AM on Tuesday 5/3 with the seventh and final stage LIVE from 1:30AM on Monday 11/3. All dates and times are AEST.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Paris-Nice:

Baden Cooke
Fumy Beppu
Jens Keukeleire
Leigh Howard
Michael Albasini
Michael Matthews
Simon Clarke
Simon Gerrans