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Paris-Nice Stage 3 Preview

Encore, the third flat stage and the wind should be back again but not as strong as the first two stages. This could be the last chance for many sprinters to challenge Dylan Groenewegen.

Double Dutch: a frantic stage, 165km covered at over 50km/h thanks to a three-quarters tailwind which tore the bunch to shreds and made for a stressful day for the riders. This was vintage racing to watch, TV caviar… but spare a thought for the violence as riders crashed out, on Sunday Michael Matthews lost conciousness after a crash, yesterday it was Warren Barguil’s turn to black out briefly and several riders have broken bones while others have seen their ambitions for the overall vanish, Simon Yates being the latest.

A steady start allowed Direct Energie’s Damien Gaudin to get in the early break and secure the mountains jersey, then peloton picked up the pace and the move was caught. The speed hardly dropped below 50km/h while the race split to pieces. Michał Kwiatkowski had the misfortune to puncture late and it could have ruined his bid for the overall classification but he managed to hitch onto the next group which clawed back the leaders, only for the group to split again in the final moments with the Pole helping to instigate the move of seven which contained Dylan Groenewegen. If the result sounds like a formality, it wasn’t and it must have cost Groenewegen a lot of energy just to make the move. Several riders concurred it had been one of their hardest days of racing.

The Route: 200km tracking the Loire valley right into the middle of France. It’s flat – the route runs alongside several canals – and there’s not a categorised climb all day. There’s little of note along the way, it’s rural bordering on empty with empty houses in the towns along the way, their shutters closed for good. It’s exposed to the wind again for the most part and one nervous part will be the road leading to the second intermediate sprint as it is a narrow, secondary road.

The Finish: more urban obstacles than recent stages. After the three kilometre to go point they cross the Allier river but the bridge is wide and flat and then the road climbs a touch between the 2km and 1km to go points. The final kilometre is flat, straight and wide.

The Contenders: Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) has two stages and who’d be against him taking a third? That said he’s only won by a small margin each time so others should be in the mix. Once again Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) should be close and Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is fast for the sprint too but popped yesterday out of the groups and the fatigue will accumulate, it’s one thing to be a fast sprinter but much of this is being able to handle the effort needed to reach the final kilometre and several sprinters don’t look as sharp.

Dylan Groenewegen, Caleb Ewan
Fabio Jakobsen
Bennet, Démare, Greipel, Kittel

Weather: sunshine and milder, a top temperature of 16°C but it’ll turn cloudy and could rain later in the stage. It’ll be windy again with a 30-40km/h crosswind which could gust stronger.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm Euro time. It should be available on the same channel you watch the Tour de France and/or Eurosport. If not then cyclingfans and steephill.tv have schedules and streams.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Stuie Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 8:07 am

    Wind should be enough to cause problems again. It is brutal on riders, but these stages would have been a borefest if it was calm. I’m sure some of those GC riders are wishing they went to Italy this week.
    Groenewegen for the win.

    • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 8:39 am

      Several riders (only several!?) look as happy as pigs in sh1t riding in the wind – big Stijn, Naesen, Jungels, Rowe, Kwiatkowski. Bernal and Quintana have both been exemplary so far too.
      Which of the two Colombians has the better TT?
      If Quintana gets through today unscathed, he must have a great chance of winning Paris – Nice?

  • UHJ Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 8:49 am

    That was epic windy flat stage racing. Christ, they were going fast.
    Really impressed by Bernal again staying out of trouble and at the front. Tremendous workload for the last 3-4 km by Rowe to ensure they stay away.
    Edge of the seat!

  • #pinkpower Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 8:58 am

    With such a brutal race and so many potentially serious rider injuries, including head and neck injury, we should perhaps remember the death of Andrey Kivilev (Cofidis) on this day in 2003.

    It was his death caused by head trauma following a relatively simple crash in stage 2 of Paris-Nice that finally pushed the UCI into declaring a mandatory helmet rule for the peloton.

    He was a friend of Vinokourov, who actually won the race in that year, so I don’t know if Vino or Astana will plan to make any mark of remembrance today.

    Everyone ride safe.

    • Thomas Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 12:55 pm

      well said!

  • hahostolze Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 9:56 am

    Big up Groenewegen. Much, much more than just a sprinter. The likes of him and Gaviria are so capable, they might even usurp Sagan.
    Also, Bernal. He’s going to win everything.

  • charlie Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 10:46 am

    Just updating my fantasy team and now wondering, what’s happened to Dan McLay?

    He was one of the fastest finishers around a year or two ago.

    • Spofferoonie Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 11:40 am

      I think he’s found the step up to World Tour quite hard – didn’t have a great year last year but did get a win at the Herald Sun Tour early. EF also seem to be covering their bases by having more than one sprinter in a number of races which might affect confidence. My gut feeling is that he doesn’t have the top end speed to be more than a challenger in top races.

      • charlie Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 11:53 am

        does seem to be the case. he’s got 6 top 10s including a podium at the TdF though, must have something. Seems odd to see him continually in 160th place at the moment.

        • charlie Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 5:03 pm

          …glad I brought him in!

  • DJW Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 6:08 pm

    Dan Maclay: maybe he’s been reading the comments! Fourth today despite coming from too far back. If only he had had another 50m…He seems more lacking in bunch navigation skills and support than speed. He will now feel encouraged and regret the end of sprint stages in this P-N.

  • John Irvine Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 9:42 pm

    Man, bonus points sure do make a difference in this race. Soler won by 4 sec over Yates last year. I could see Kwiatkowski taking it on his TT and points collecting abilities alone.

    • Steve Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 9:55 pm

      Sky appear to agree with you, as they have had Kwaito mop up bonus seconds ahead of Bernal on more than one occasion

  • KevinK Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 9:57 pm

    And once again, after a few disappointing stages, Sam Bennett lights it up with a fine finish. It looked like his lead-out train did a great job, and then he slipped onto the wheel of Kristoff, then into the Jumbo train. Nice bit of wheel surfing and positioning before launching his sprint. Ewan seemed to know Bennett was the strongest today, and was glued to his wheel, to no avail.

    As noted above, nice to see McLay finishing strong. And nice to know that as strong as DG is, he’s does have his limits.

  • Bern Wednesday, 13 March 2019, 3:00 am

    Looked to me like Groenewegen maybe skipped a cog at the end – hard to tell…