Paris-Bourges is one of the toughest one-day races of the autumn and possesses a list of winners that reads like a who’s who of cycling’s hard men.
The event can be traced all the way back to 1913 but it has experienced various different routes over its previous 61 editions.
Team Sky come into the race as defending champions and four of the riders that competed at Il Lombardia last Saturday will be in action again here with Thomas Löfkvist, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Danny Pate and Richie Porte being joined by Davide Martinelli and Xabier Zandio.
No longer starting in Paris, the action actually kicks off in Gien on the banks of the Loire River. The 190.4-kilometre route runs south-east and parallel to the waterfront passing a number of picturesque chateaus along the way.
With various prizes on offer during the race an early sprint point at Chatillon-sur-Loire could be hotly contested before the riders finally enter the department of Cher.
The race arrives in Belleville-sur-Loire before looping around to the west, passing through a second sprint at Santranges before taking in a brief loop just to the east of Agbigny-sur-Nere.
The riders pass through Jars and are eventually met with undulating terrain as the race transitions back west, taking in three brief ramps to precede the run for home.
Attention then turns to the finish with a long, straight and largely downhill run into Bourges. The pace will be high with an escape likely hoping to hold out until the finish.
A pan-flat final few kilometres will play into the hands of the sprinters and the fight will be on as riders bid to add their name to the winner’s list.
Team Sky history
Last year’s appearance at Paris-Bourges was one of Team Sky’s highlights of the season after Mathew Hayman had romped home to a hard-fought sprint victory and Greg Henderson also battled to third place on the podium.
It is their only appearance to date, although Bernhard Eisel claimed a top-10 finish in 2010 while riding for HTC-Columbia.