With three victories in the last week, Deceuninck-Quick-Step is on a roll as classics season begins, and it will send Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner Bob Jungels to France to lead the team at Paris-Nice starting Sunday.
The Luxembourg champion Jungels won Sunday’s cobbled classic with an emphatic solo attack. Ordinarily, this early season one-day race in Kuurne is one for the sprinters. Instead, Jungels rode clear of a small breakaway group and fended off the peloton on the final circuit to win.
On Sunday, a strong Deceuninck-Quick-Step team will back Jungels at the start of Paris-Nice in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, including former world champion Philippe Gilbert.
“Philippe [Gilbert] can be in the mix on some of the days, while Bob [Jungels] will look to continue his fine form, do a good time trial, and be a factor in the general classification,” said sport director Tom Steels.
Jungels hasn’t raced Paris-Nice since 2015 when he was fifth in the best young rider classification.
Deceuninck might also look to up-and-coming star Fabio Jakobsen to ride for a result in one of the stages.
“We hope to win a stage with Fabio [Jakobsen], but he is recovering from sickness, so it remains to be seen how he goes,” Steels added. “Paris-Nice is a step-up for him against a quality field, but regardless of how he fares, it is going to be a good experience for him.”
Jakobsen, 22, won stage 1 at Volta ao Algarve in his season debut last month.
The team also will bring Florian Sénéchal to the race. The Frenchman just won Tuesday’s Le Samyn classic, extending the squad’s win streak, which started Saturday at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, thanks to Zdenek Stybar.
Paris-Nice’s stage 5 time trial is likely to be a key day in the race for the overall. The 25.5km race will be held on hilly roads around Barbentane. This could suit Jungels, a four-time national time trial champion.
After that, the race’s mountain stages begin. Stage 7 will include the Col de Turini, a 14.9km climb averaging 7.3 percent. This ascent will be new to Paris-Nice and hasn’t been ridden in a major professional race since 1973. The race concludes with its traditional Nice circuit on stage 8, including six categorized climbs.
The final stage is often a dramatic day of racing. Movistar’s Marc Soler won the 2018 edition of the race on the Promenade des Anglais, where Paris-Nice finishes.
Paris-Nice starts March 10 and finishes March 17.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step for Paris-Nice
Tim Declercq (B)
Philippe Gilbert (B)
Fabio Jakobsen (Nl)
Bob Jungels (Lux)
Iljo Keisse (B)
Fabio Sabatini (I)
Florian Sénéchal (F)