Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var Recap

Docker and Nakane discuss their first race of the season


Thought the first races of the season would be taken at more moderate paces? The peloton would simply ease in and give their legs time to adjust? Think again. Even for Mitch Docker, a pro who’s taken on some of cycling’s biggest races, the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var was as intense as a bike race gets. And when asked if he could describe the race in one word, he’d simply say: hardcore.


“It was a very tough race. Even though it was the first race of the year, the pace was on,” said Docker. Despite the challenges and relentless tempo of the peloton, EF-Education-NIPPO had a great team there. Seasoned vets like Docker, Scully, and Keukeleire were able to set the pace and provide the new riders with extra wisdom and guidance. And while Julien El Fares may be new to the team, his experience in physically demanding races was evident. Plus, he had a special advantage heading into the three-day race. El Fares grew up in Manosque and is very familiar to the Région Sud, so the Frenchman was able to showcase his skills — especially on the Alpine climbs. 


Once the team began their route from the start in Biot to the finish in Blausasc, it was clear that El Fares had a level of comfortability and skill riding in the region. “Julien showed his experience and knowledge of racing the area. He was a very good team player and was flying the flag for us the whole time,” said Docker.


While it was demanding, the race was a great opportunity for the team to explore the breathtaking views of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region. “On a short ride, you can end up with maritime landscapes or even mountains,” said El Fares. The race kicked off in Biot and ended in Gourdon, famous for its historic castle with gardens designed by André Le Nôtre and architecture that dates back to the ninth century. Gourdon’s stunning panoramic views made it a film location for several scenes in the film adaptation of Les Misérables. The riders took on three repeating climbs in this incredibly scenic and cinematic 188-kilometre stage. The day ended with a 7.8 kilometre climb, the longest uphill finish in the race. 


Stage 2 started and finished in Fayence, a commune located between the southern Alps and the Esterel massif that borders the sea between Cannes and Saint-Raphaë. The stage was no easy feat, but nothing could compare for what was to come in Stage 3. The final stage offered plenty of climbs in the beautiful Monaco region and was a shorter ride of 131 kilometers. That said, it featured approximately 0 kilometers of flat terrain. The first climb of the Col Saint Roche came after 42 kilometers and was quickly followed up by the Col de Braus. There was not a meter of flat road to be seen before the race hit the legendary Col de la Madone de Gorbio, an 11 kilometer ascent. The finish in Blausasc took the riders through a village that featured generous mediterranean landscapes and plenty of olive trees, pine and oak tree forests — which hopefully distracted them from the brutal climbs they just endured.


As for the new teammate and youngest rider on the roster, Simon Carr stepped up in a big way and made several impressive attacks throughout the race. “You forget how young Carr is and just being a first year WorldTour pro, he’s already really stepped up to the plate. He had a lot of responsibility and rose to the occasion,” said Docker. As for Hideto Nakane, Docker was also excited by his new teammate’s character and resilience. “Nakane is just a very reliable teammate. He also looks like he’s going to be a really good climber. I can see that he’s going to fit the team really well,” said Docker. 


From Nakane’s perspective, the race went smoothly and he was about to settle his nerves quickly. “I was nervous at first because it was my first race with a new team. However, thanks to my more experienced teammates, and the sport directors and staff, I was able to ride with more confidence. I think I’ll be in good condition going forward and will do my best to help my teammates in the races to come,” said Nakane. 


Docker was also happy to see his other teammates performing at such a high level and helping out the new riders on the team. “Jens and Magnus were riding really strong. And Tom Scully and I are finding our form for the Belgium classics coming,” said Docker.


See you at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad next week for Opening Weekend and the start of the cobbled classics!