John Degenkolb this afternoon rewarded his Giant-Shimano team for some strong riding and a perfect leadout to win Stage 3 of Paris-Nice at the Magny-Cours motor racing circuit this afternoon, and with it move into the overall lead.
Matt Goss, whose Orica-GreenEdge team sought to push Giant-Shimano in the finale on the circuit that was home to the Formula 1 French Grand Prix from 1991 to 2008, finished second, with José Joaquín Rojas of Movistar third.
Overnight leader Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ.fr was unable to get a clear run at the line coming off the final corner and finished seventh.
The 180km stage took the peloton across the Loire Valley, and once again there was a rider from the French UCI Professional Continental team Bretagne-Séché Environnement in the day’s break.
That man was Romain Feillu, perhaps best remembered for wearing the Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey for a day in 2008, and he was joined by Perrig Quemeneur of Europcar and Julien Fouchard of Cofidis.
With 11km left, Quemener was off the front on his own, but by the time he hit the entrance to the Magny-Cours circuit he had just 25 seconds left, and with the peloton gaining fast it would not be enough and he was caught with around 2km remaining.
Missing from the start this morning in Toucy was Gianni Meersman, who had been virtual leader on the road yesterday when he crashed around 10km from the finish.
The Belgian incurred a 1 minute 10 second penalty for illegally drafting his team car as he tried in vain to rejoin the bunch.
Prior to today’s stage, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider said on Twitter: "Paris Nice is over for me, I'm going to hospital in Belgium."
Also failing to start were Lotto-Belisol’s Kris Boeckmans, and Belkin’s Lars Boom, who suffered a fractured elbow in the same crash that Meersman was involved in yesterday.
Following three days for the sprinters, things get hillier tomorrow on the 201.5km Stage 4 from Nevers to Belleville.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.