The 115th edition of Paris-Tours, which starts on Sunday morning in Chartres at 11.40 am, will be contested on a 212.3 km course, including nine vineyard paths in the last 50 km, for a total of 9.5 km.
Among the contenders for the title, former winners like Casper Pedersen, Soren Kragh Andersen, and Greg Van Avermaet will have to contend with one of the heroes of Paris-Roubaix, Florian Vermeersch (2nd), who showed what he is capable of in his first participation.
They want more. Less than a week after a historic edition of Paris-Roubaix moved to the autumn for the first time, the classics season ends this weekend with Paris-Tours and presents itself in this unprecedented calendar as an ideal opportunity for redemption and revenge. After the Flemish cobbles of the World Championships and the slippery cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, it is on the vineyard trails that have been part of the programme of the classic for the past three years that the champions will battle it out. And they are not just any champions! Florian Vermeersch excelled in Leuven, finishing on the U23 time-trial podium before he rode another stellar race on the cobbled sectors and then at the Roubaix velodrome, where he came close to becoming the youngest winner of the modern era (2nd). Hungry for more, the 22-year-old could get his first professional victory before the end of this season. To do that, he will have to surprise or dominate some of last Sunday’s standouts, which include Christophe Laporte (6th), Tom Van Asbroeck (8th), Anthony Turgis (13th), Sep Vanmarcke (23rd), Jasper Stuyven (25th and winner of this year’s Milan-San Remo). Or some big names who didn’t do well, like Arnaud Démare and Stefan Küng with Groupama-FDJ and Greg Van Avermaet in the AG2R-Citroën Team jersey, who is a former Paris-Tours and Paris-Roubaix winner!
Two riders who have been able to exploit the vineyard roads, the defending race winner, Casper Pedersen from Denmark and his compatriot-teammate Soren Kragh Andersen, will also be among the favourites for the win. There are also serious candidates who did not take part in this year’s edition of Paris-Roubaix. That is the case for Valentin Madouas, who was in good form in the Classic Loire Atlantique (2nd) after participating in the conquest of Julian Alaphilippe’s rainbow jersey and sprinters Pascal Ackermann, Nacer Bouhanni, Danny van Poppel (winner of Binche-Chimay-Binche) and Bryan Coquard.
Paris-Tours Espoirs: riders to watch
In its current form as a classic for the under 23s, Paris-Tours Espoirs is celebrating its 25th anniversary. And among the riders who have followed Franck Perque on the list of winners are world champions, namely Thor Hushovd (1998 winner) and Tom Boonen (2000); Tour de France stage winners like Samuel Dumoulin (2001), Tony Gallopin (2008), Mike Teunissen (2014) and Jasper Philipsen (2017); and a Paris-Tours elite winner, Jelle Wallays (2010). No one knows how successful the contenders for this 79th edition will be in a few years, but some already have impressive credentials. British rider Askey Lewis, who finished 5th in this year’s World Championships, is already a favourite, as is Danish rider Johan Price-Petjersen, who last month won the World and European time trial championships. Outsiders like Louis Barré, 4th on Liège-Bastogne-Liège Espoirs and 7th in the European championships, or Valentin Retailleau, who won a stage in the recent Tour de Bretagne, will also be watched closely.
Main contenders (as of 06/10):
Lotto-Soudal: Vermeersch (Bel), Sweeny (Aus)
Alpecin-Fenix: Philipsen (Bel),
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux: D.Van Poppel, Van der Hoorn (Ned)
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Herregodts (Bel)
Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB: Dupont (Bel)
AG2R Citroën Team: Van Avermaet (Bel), Jungels (Lux)
Groupama-FDJ: Démare, Madouas (Fra), Küng (Swi)
Cofidis : Laporte (Fra), Drucker (Lux)
TotalEnergies: Turgis, Petit (Fra), Terpstra (Ned)
Team Arkea-Samsic: Bouhanni, Riou (Fra), Swift (Gbr)
B&B Hotels p/b KTM: Bonnamour, Coquard, Lemoine (Fra)
Delko : Siskevicius (Lit)
St Michel-Auber 93: Tesson (Fra)
Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole: Vermeulen, Levasseur (Fra)
Bora-Hansgrohe: Ackermann (Ger)
Team DSM: Kragh Andersen, C.Pedersen (Dan), Bol (Ned)
Israel Start-Up Nation: Vanmarcke, Van Asbroeck (Bel), Hofstetter (Fra)
Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: Tiller (Nor)
Jumbo-Visma: Teunissen, Groenewegen (Ned)
Equipo Kern Pharma: Berrade, Galvan Fernandez (Esp)
Euskaltel-Euskadi: Bizkarra (Esp)
Trek-Segafredo: Stuyven, Theuns (Bel)