Spring is coming; all eyes on Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico

The two stage races are an important and challenging test for all riders ahead of the Classic season. From France to Italy, Lidl-Trek will head to both races with ambitions in stage hunting and a strong performance in GC

With less than twenty days to go before the start of the Spring Classics, the focus will be on two prestigious WorldTour stage races; Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.

The two week-long races, which start on Sunday (Paris-Nice) and Monday (Tirreno-Adriatico), will bring together (with very few exceptions) the best of the cycling world and represent the most reliable tests after two months of competition to take stock of form. Whether competing for stages or the general classification, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico are serious and demanding tests for the key riders of the peloton.

Tao, Johnny and Toms sharing the roads at training camp. They'll lead Lidl-Trek at Tirreno-Adriatico (©RossBell)

The importance of the two races is clear to Lidl-Trek, as well as the choice to achieve both dreams: winning stages and taking care of the overall classification.

In France, leading the Team will be Mads Pedersen, who has already amassed an astonishing six wins after eight days of racing this season, and Mattias Skjelmose, who will be aiming to build on his progress as an aspiring GC rider. They can count on some big engines and fast legs in support, with Jasper Stuyven, Julien Bernard, Tim Declercq, Ryan Gibbons and Alex Kirsch completing the Team.

In Italy, the task of fighting for a good GC will be on the shoulders of Tao Geoghegan Hart, while in the sprints the focus is on Jonathan Milan and, in the mixed stages, on Andrea Bagioli and Toms Skujins. With them are Simone Consonni, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Edward Theuns.

We’ll now handover to the key voices of Lidl-Trek: Pedersen and Skjelmose, Geoghegan Hart and Milan.

Pedersen during his first race of the season, Etoile de Besseges (©GettyImages)

Mads Pedersen

“I’ve been coming to Paris-Nice already for the last four years because it’s the race that suits me best in this period. Especially in the last two editions I have great memories, with two stage wins and a day in the yellow jersey. Racing in crosswinds, grippy roads, and the threat of bad weather is close to what we can expect at the Classics. These are the types of stages that suit me best, but also give me the best preparation ahead of my main targets.

We come here with a really strong team. Skjelly has shown that he’s good at riding the crosswinds, and we’ll have a lot of strong guys around him to keep him out of trouble. The team time trial will be important for the GC, and we’ll empty ourselves to get Skjelly to the finish as fast as possible. I believe he can do a great race here. Then, if it’s coming to a sprint on the flatter days I think we have one of the best leadouts in the peloton. We have the quality in this team to set our targets high.

I started the season with some nice wins, but of course these were much smaller races. Now at a WorldTour race it’s time to see how we stack up against the strongest riders. I want to win again against the best.”

Skjelmose had a good debut in France (©GettyImages)

Mattias Skjelmose

“For me personally, I love to race in France. After Denmark, it’s one of the best places to race. I really love the atmosphere there. Ever since I was a kid Paris-Nice was one of the races I was inspired to do because even though I’m a small guy I’ve liked racing in crosswinds, that’s one of the nice things about Paris-Nice.

I think we have a crazy strong team for the team time trial. Almost the whole classics squad including some of the biggest engines in the peloton, as well as being really good time trial riders. Then with me and Julien for the hillier stages, we’ve got a really strong squad.

Thinking about the most important stages for the GC, I would say that the last stage to Nice is always really exciting, and of course the Team Time Trial. But, you never know because if we have big crosswinds then it could also be pretty decisive on these days. That’s one of the beautiful things about Paris-Nice, you never know what will happen.

Looking at the start list, it’s hard to set my ambitions. In the past I’ve done really well in one-week races and the latest one I did I won; the Tour de Suisse. But my ambitions are to go there and do a good GC, I don’t have a particular result I’m aiming for, just to keep my good rhythm of doing good GC results, and building to be a Grand Tour rider, which is the aim of all this. We will see where this brings me.”

Volta ao Algarve, the first race for Tao with Lidl-Trek (©GettyImages)

Tao Geoghegan Hart

“I’m really looking forward to being back in Italy after quite some time away, it is a country I really love racing in and I always really enjoy hearing the tifosi cheering strange iterations of my name on the roadside! Tirreno will be decided on a couple of hard climbing stages, but to kick things of we will do the familiar TT along the coast, where I hope to improve on my TT in Algarve.

From there we have some really nice chances for Johnny to show himself after the bad luck of Opening Weekend, before hopefully myself and Andrea can do some nice stages in the climbs. I am excited to get a big week of racing under my belt, back at the WorldTour level, and see/learn further about how things are (hopefully!) progressing with my condition!”

Jonathan in action at the Opening Weekend (©CauldPhoto)

Jonathan Milan

“Tirreno-Adriatico represents an important step in the start of my season and in my approach to the classics season. It will be my first experience in the race and the desire to prove myself is great. I know that it will be a challenging week, because the routes of Tirreno-Adriatico are traditionally demanding, as well as ideal for those who, like me, are looking for the best condition ahead of the classics. But the motivation is strong. There are at least two, if not three opportunities to fight for success. Routes aside, there is also the battle with the other sprinters, which motivates me a lot. It’s also through the challenge with the best riders that I can grow, and at Tirreno, there will be a lot of them. Winning or losing, there are always useful takeaways from such important races.

The Opening Weekend didn’t go as I wanted, but feeling regret against a health problem is pointless. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to test myself on a terrain I like and on which I want to be a protagonist in the future. At Tirreno I hope to regain the good feelings I had on my debut at Valenciana and which accompanied me all the way to Belgium. The stomach problems are over and the condition is certainly not gone. I face my first challenge in Italy with great spirit and confidence.”