Frenchman Arnaud Démare (FDJ) outsprinted compatriot Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) to win opening stage of Paris-Nice on Sunday.
"The Race to the Sun" kicks off Sunday and traverses through France, from north to South, for eight days.
Paris-Nice plays host to the first major showdown of 2017 for top GC riders Contador, Bardet, Porte, and Valverde.
The eight-day "Race to the Sun" kicks off March 5 and includes a time trial, two uphill finishes, and a new finish in Nice.
Recently, Milano-Sanremo winners have honed form at Paris-Nice — Bouhanni and Matthews look sharp ahead of Saturday's monument.
Geraint Thomas relied on guts, his teammates, and a 54-tooth chainring to win the overall title at Paris-Nice on Sunday.
Tim Wellens takes the stage victory and Geraint Thomas seals the overall title in a nail-biting Paris-Nice finale
Tinkoff sport director Sean Yates says TV motos helped pace Geraint Thomas in the final stage of Paris-Nice
Tim Wellens wins the final stage of Paris-Nice as Geraint Thomas takes the overall title
Geraint Thomas survives a fierce battle with Alberto Contador to win the 'Race to the Sun' as Tim Wellens nabs the final stage