Harvest time for the classics hardmen

September 5 th 2018 - 12:38

The 112th edition of Paris–Tours will take place on 7 October on a revamped course that could change the flavour of the race. The route has been shortened to 211 km (versus 234 km in 2017) and peppered with seven climbs and 12.5 km of vineyard tracks in the final 50 kilometres! A total of 154 riders representing 22 teams will take part in the race. Sprinters such as Arnaud Démare, Dylan Groenewegen and André Greipel will be on the start line, but the new race scenario could favour attackers such as Edvald Boasson Hagen, Jelle Wallays and Niki Terpstra.

The Classic of the Falling Leaves is undergoing a little autumn revolution: all hail the Classic of the Grape Leaves! Paris–Tours has flirted with the vineyards of Touraine throughout its hundred-year history. However, this year's course heads farther north, taking the riders right into the heart of the Vouvray appellation… and, even more importantly, putting them to the test on 12.5 km of vineyard tracks. Following the start in Chartres, the peloton will be on high alert due to the risk of splits on the windswept plains of Eure-et-Loir and Loir-et-Cher. Then, after 150 kilometres of racing, Paris–Tours will stray from its traditional formula to give attackers a greater chance of success.

By interspersing short, brutal climbs with narrow tracks where riders will have to stay focused at all times, the organisers of Paris–Tours have laid the groundwork for a lively race. The peloton will enter uncharted territory at km 161 with the start of the Château de Valmer track. The 1,500 m Vallée de Raye track, which comes after 162 kilometres and features a climb at the start, could provide a springboard for explosive riders. Shortly after, the peloton will tackle the 2,500 m Grosse Pierre track, with plenty of dirt and fine gravel! The Côte de la Rochère, coming after 151.5 km, is the steepest new climb on the course, with sections reaching 15%. Late attackers will pin their hopes on the 800 m Rochecorbon track, followed by the last climb 10 km before the finish. Anyone who enters the final straight on Avenue de Grammont —which has hosted the finish since 1988— with a gap will have to dig deep to stay away. Even then, the peloton could easily come together for a mass sprint. Nothing is off the table…

22 teams selected
Belgium: Quick-Step Floors; Lotto–Soudal; Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise; Veranda's Willems Crelan; Wanty Groupe Gobert; WB Aqua Protect Veraanclassic. France: Ag2r–La Mondiale; Groupama-FDJ; Cofidis, Solutions Crédits ; Delko Marseille Provence KTM; Direct Énergie; Team Fortuneo—Samsic; Vital Concept Cycling Club; Saint-Michel Auber 93; Roubaix Lille Métropole. Germany: Team Sunweb. Israel: Israel Cycling Academy. Netherlands: Team LottoNL–Jumbo; Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij. South Africa: Team Dimension Data. Switzerland: Katusha–Alpecin.United States: EF Education First–Drapac p/b Cannondale. 
Paris–Tours Espoirs / Paris–Tours Kilometre
. Along with the elite race, Paris–Tours is also a major event for under-23 riders. Over the last decade, talents such as Tony Gallopin (2008), Jelle Wallays (2010), Mike Teunissen (2014) and Sam Oomen (2015) took one of their first big wins here. The under-23 race will also face the vineyard tracks this year. The peloton will roll out from Bonneval and tackle the final 180 kilometres of the elite race.
. Under-16 and under-18 riders representing the departmental and regional committees involved in the race will do battle on the final kilometre. This will also be the first time that girls get to race on Avenue de Grammont.
. The late-season classic has also got something in store for children —the Ateliers de Paris–Tours, which will be set up in the finish area from Saturday 6 October. Booths offering an introduction to cycling, safety rules, maintenance and other aspects are a way for children to establish or strengthen their connection with cycling.

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