The 115th edition of Paris-Tours, which will start from Chartres on Sunday morning, follows the same route as last year, with a 212.3 km course including nine vineyard trails in the last 51 km.
A nice field of sprinters (Philipsen, Démare, Groenewegen), heroes of the recent Paris-Roubaix (Vermeersch, Laporte, Turgis) and three former winners are at the rendezvous of the last classic of the year.
Defending champion Casper Pedersen promises to be “on the attack” with a strong DSM squad also featuring 2018 winner Soren Kragh Andersen.
A WINDY THRILLER
Paris-Tours is always a thriller of a race, and the 115th edition of the classic should be no exception with a cohort of classics experts (Stuyven, Laporte, Turgis…) to try and upset a strong field of sprinters (Philipsen, Démare, Groenewegen…). “We’ve found our formula and we’re repeating last year’s route, with seven climbs and nine vineyard trails in the last 50km”, race director Cédric Coutouly explains. “The trails are preceded by climbs, so the legs do the positioning. It’s hard for the teams to work well together so a lone rider doesn’t lose much time against the peloton. It will be nice weather, and the wind will blow from the North-East. So there could be a risk of echelons, but it’s coming mostly from behind so we should have a very fast start, and then, once on the trails, the wind direction will change a lot so it will be a factor.” With all these elements, “the riders who were at the front towards Roubaix should also be up there on Sunday”, Coutouly foresees. Among them, the young and talentful Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) is looking for a maiden professional victory…
PEDERSEN : ”WE WILL BE ON THE ATTACK”
Three former winners will be at the start. Among them, AG2R-Citroën Team’s Greg Van Avermaet (winner in 2011) is a veteran of Paris-Tours, with 10 participations under his belt, but he hasn’t come since 2016 and thus doesn’t know the new format with vineyard trails. The other two former winners ride with Team DSM, with the Dane Soren Kragh Andersen (2018) and his compatriot Casper Pedersen, the defending champion, who rose to victory after Kragh Andersen suffered a crash. “We have several cards to play”, Pedersen says in 2021 as well. “I think our team is stronger than last year. We will be on the attack with classics experts such as Soren Kragh Andersen and Nils Eekhoff. And if it ends up with a sprint, we’ll ride for Cees Bol. Looking at the start-list, it may be harder this year. It will be interesting to see if sprint teams will be able to control and if sprinters can follow attacks on the climbs.”
LAPORTE: “AN ATTRACTIVE RACE”
Sixth in Paris-Roubaix and back in action this Sunday, Christophe Laporte says he took longer than usual to recover from Hell of the North and the toll it took on everyone with dire conditions. “But I’m in a good shape, I feel ready and motivated for Sunday. It’s hard to stay motivated at the end of the season, but Paris-Tours is an attractive race, it is one of the biggest in France.“ His 7th participation in the Classic of the Falling Leaves, his first in three years, will have a very special flavor. „I will really give the maximum for my last race in the Cofidis jersey“, Laporte promises as he’s set to leave the French team to join Jumbo-Visma, who come to Paris-Tours with the sprinter Dylan Groenewegen and the recent winner of the Ronde de l’Isard, Gijs Leemreize. “I expect an open race in the finale, and that’s what I like. If I feel good, I won’t wait for a sprint.”
YOUNGSTERS GET THE ACTION ROLLING
Before the pros, the famous Avenue de Grammont will be surveyed by cadets and juniors (men and women) participating in the Kilomètre de Paris-Tours, then by riders in the Under 23 category. Paris-Tours Espoirs, celebrating its 78th edition, has always revealed the talents of tomorrow. Three of the top four in last year’s edition are competing in the elite event this Sunday: Rune Herregodts (1st), Jordi Meeus (2nd) and Jason Tesson (4th). The 3rd, Florian Dauphin (VCP Loudéac), is again at the start of the U23 race, five days after a solid ride among the pros in Binche-Chimay-Binche (20th). His French compatriot Louis Barré (4th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège Espoirs), the Norwegian Soren Waerenskjold (winner of two stages of the Tour de l’Avenir) and the Belgian Arnaud De Lie (winner Friday of the 2nd stage of the Circuit des Ardennes) count among the main favorites who will try to succeed Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Tony Gallopin and Mike Teunissen on the Paris-Tours Espoirs winners list. The race will start from Bonneval and follow the last 177 kilometers of the professional race.
ALL EYES AND CAMERAS ON PARIS-TOURS
The 115th edition of Paris-Tours enjoys increased coverage with 25 broadcasters making the race available for the fans in 190 territories. The last 1h50 of action will be broadcasted live. Highlights are also available through news agencies and dedicated cycling media, as well as on the official website of the race and on its social media. The first images of the day will be broadcasted on Facebook and Twitter with the team presentation (from 10 AM) and the first pedal strokes as the peloton rolls from Chartres (11:40).