Paris-Nice Stage 3 Preview

Time to shape the overall classification with a time trial stage.

Special Cees: Trek-Segafredo and Deceuninck-Quickstep tried to exploit the conditions but the crosswinds just weren’t angry enough to help split the peloton for more than a few minutes so while it was nervous in the bunch, it was a slow day for viewers. In the approach to Amilly Alexis Vuillermoz crashed out of the race and George Bennett fell, breaking his helmet and looked groggy  – beware TV diagnoses – but seemed lucid enough to jump on his bike the moment medics appeared on the scene and get away from them before they could start asking the new concussion protocol questions (update Tuesday morning: apparently he was questioned by medics and followed by an ambulance as he rode back to the peloton, via L’Equipe). We got a sprint but in the finale two crashes derailed many sprint trains. Jasper Stuyven launched Mads Pedersen but it was Cees Bol who was the torque of the town as he surged past to deliver DSM’s first win this year.

The Route: a course around Gien – longtime home to cycling’s rolling stone Pierre Rolland – that seems to cram in many features of France in just 14km short distance. There’s a 2km start long the banks of the glorious Loire, then suddenly a left turn and up a wall-like climb, 350 metres at 11% makes for a change of rhythm. At the top the course continues on small farm roads which are exposed before picking up a larger road for the mid-way time check. Then it’s back onto the farm roads and a twisty section which straightens out to run alongside the railway before passing a Leclerc supermarket – sponsor of the mountains jersey – and then the race picks up roads around the industrial parts of town before dropping back down to the Loire and then a last wall climb up to the finish in the historic town centre. Overall it’s an awkward little course, not flat for the pure specialists, not hilly for the climbers and a course where the small differences can count.

The Contenders: Rohan Dennis (Ineos) used to be the best time trialist in the world until his team mate Filippo Ganna took over. Sans Ganna, Dennis is an obvious contender, but his form is unknown. He rolled in several minutes down yesterday, presumably he wanted to save any spare energy for today and at 147th overall he’s an early starter so he could spend a long time in the hotseat.

Primož Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has made winning time trials part of this path to victory in stage races and he’d prefer a hillier course – the climbs today are very short – but he’s got two races today, the first to see if he can win the stage; the second to take time on his rivals, both overlap.

Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM) won the Paris-Nice TT stage a year ago, a surprise and even knowing he won last year it’d be a surprise if he won again as last year’s course suited some of his skills downhill, today’s course isn’t as technical, nor does it reward risk-taking.

Stefan Bisseger (EF Education-Nippo) hit the front pages as an amateur when he torched the pro field to win a stage of the Tour de l’Ain in a sprint and has taken Tour de l’Avenir bunch sprints and more. But is he a Swiss Marcel Kittel or a Ganna? He was only few seconds off Ganna’s time in the UAE Tour TT. Today’s course is harder for him with the sharp climbs though.

Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos) is a TT specialist but has made noises about trying to win road races instead because he’s been crowded out of the TT hotseat internationally by Ganna and even domestically (eg for Olympic selection etc) by Wout van Aert. Still this is home terrain for him.

Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is another TT specialist and in form and will be targetting this stage. Team mate Yves Lampaert can do a good time trial but a win would be more of a surprise.

Race leader Michael Matthews (Bike Exchange) could win, he’s won time trials in Paris-Nice before but it’d be a surprise. Team mate Luke Durbridge came from the Aussie track pursuit programme (he was on the squad with Dennis) but is less of a TT specialist these days.

Paddy Bevin (Israel)? Maybe a top-10. Brandon McNulty (UAE Emirates) watch to see if he can make the top-10 too. L-L Sanchez (Astana)? Decent in the UAE Tour and could ride high but surely not win.

Rohan Dennis, Primož Roglič
Rémi Cavagna, SKA, Stefan Bissegger
Campenaerts, Teuns, Lampaert

Weather: cold and weak sunshine, 9°C with a northerly breeze of 10-15km/h that will mess with riders on the most exposed part of the course

TV: the last rider Michael Matthews should come in around 4.00pm CET. It’s on France 3 for locals and VPN users, or Eurosport/GCN for most of the rest of the world and NBC Sports Gold in the US.

17 thoughts on “Paris-Nice Stage 3 Preview”

  1. Thanks for the preview. Another one to watch could be Bob Jungels, he’s said he wants to re-focus on TTs. He was 12th in the Paris-Nice TT last year, can he do better this year? His form is unknown of course as this is his first race of the season.

  2. I laboured with special sauce for a bit, until the Kellogg’s cereal came to mind…

    May need to wait an additional hour in the morning to be awake enough to fully enjoy your allusions now I’m in the downslope of my 50s

  3. Thanks for the preview!
    Mads Pedersen for the top 10.
    I think a lot of riders are hungry for this, a TT without Ganna.
    I was thinking yesterday, maybe Dennis is still as good as he was in 2019? Maybe it’s just that Ganna is that much better. He reminds me of Cancellara in 2007-2009. If he was there, it was just a question of how big the gap to the 2nd place was.

    • Ganna looks the easy pick for every TT, the only exception seems to be the Olympics this year, the course has quite a lot of climbing so he won’t have it so easy, more so if it’s very hot.

      • That is where Søren Kragh comes into contention …Roglich will be coocked from the Tour.

        Assume Ganna will focus on the 4K track team and challenge the Danes.

  4. I saw one of the Ineos riders dropping back about 10km out, presumably Rohan Dennis. There was some talk of him going for GC but this clearly means he is not. If reports are correct he is a happy person these days which will probably mean he will be back challenging for TTs.

  5. TGH will be interesting – he’s done a decent TT or two in the past, and if he wants to be a regular GT team leader….

    ‘torque of the town’ 🙂 – good to see the lockdowns haven’t blunted INRNGs skills….

    • yeah I’m interested in this also, last year preGiro finale I was looking through all his TT’s trying to work out how strong he is, looking forward to more data!

      that’s race has made it so hard to determine how strong he really was? Ineos say his climbing numbers were up there with the best they’ve seen and yet the competition once it went up hill was relatively weak or at least unknown, so I have no idea if he’s now an exceptional climber who will contend GTs uphill, or an all rounder or just got a little lucky few of the big guns weren’t there?

      as it stands, I still have Pogacar, Bernal and Sivakov ahead as up&coming TDF winners, and were he still around Dumoulin, Roglic and Geraint as the three strongest of the old man brigade. I know it’s ridiculous to put Sivakov ahead as we still haven’t seen what he’s really capable of, I just thought he looked very special before the accidents and mishaps last year.

      • Thomas is almost 3.5 years older than Roglic, and another year older than Dumoulin. He’s 35 in May, and even age aside he doesn’t look anywhere near as good as the others you mention.

  6. Why no breakaway yesterday?

    Said it before…
    And if there are waist high steel balustrades, can the organisers at least be forced to use barrier tape leading in to them, with something above head height attached to the obstacle to signify its presence. A bigger version of those inflatable hand-clappy sticks would be fine to fix with gaffer tape, so long as it comes aup to above head height for visibility.
    This type of restrictive/threatening furniture is designed to be unforgiving, which is fine for usual traffic but lethal for some among a peloton. – Just ask Peter Stetina or any of many riders who’ve been getting hurt by them.

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