The snow expected on the peaks of the Alpes-Maritimes led the organizers of Paris-Nice to announce Thursday evening a modification of the final of the queen stage of the race which will not arrive as planned in the ski resort of Auron SATURDAY.

“The finish will be judged at the summit of the Madone d’Utelle, which offers 15.3 km of ascent at an average slope of 5.7%, and passages at 8%,” indicated Amaury Sport Organization (ASO). The 7th stage initially planned the ascent of the Col de la Colmiane (1,500 m) also removed from the program, before an arrival at Auron (1,600 m after a climb of 7.3 km at 7.2%) where temperatures are announced negative and snow from Friday.

“Due to the weather conditions, it turned out that it is very difficult to get to Auron” and we “decided to move back towards the sea. We prefer to be safe and give priority to the safety of the runners” , declared François Lemarchand, the director of Paris-Nice, during a press briefing Thursday evening in Sisteron. The stage, starting from Nice, was shortened to 104 km for a total of 2,000 meters of elevation gain, compared to 173 km and 3,750 elevation gain initially planned.

The first 89 kilometers of the initial stage are retained, before the final climb towards the Madone d’Utelle, a sanctuary and place of pilgrimage which had already hosted Paris-Nice, in 2016 for a victory for Ilnur Zakarin ahead of Geraint Thomas and Alberto Contador.

“We are still forecasting rain. We keep our fingers crossed but we think it will work,” declared Mr. Lemarchand. The decision had been feared for several days in view of the weather forecasts. It deprives the race of a difficult and potentially decisive summit finish, on the eve of the final finish in Nice.

Scheduled for the end of winter, Paris-Nice is regularly confronted with difficult weather conditions. Last year, the 6th stage, which was to arrive in La Colle-sur-Loup, was canceled due to the wind.