Peter Sagan of Liquigas, a former World Junior Mountain Bike Champion, confirmed his growing stature as an exciting young talent on the road by taking victory in Stage 3 at Aurillac in Paris-Nice today.
The 20-year-old Slovak rider’s win puts him second in the general classification, six seconds behind the Team Saxo Bank rider Jens Voigt, whose fourth place finish today was enough for him to wrest the race leader’s yellow jersey from Rabobank’s Lars Boom, whom he had finished second to in Sunday’s Prologue.
Britain’s David Millar of Garmin-Transitions lies fourth in the general classification, behind defending champion Luis-Leon Sanchez of Caisse d’Epargne in third, and tomorrow’s testing stage from Maurs to Mende is likely to prompt a further shake-up in the standings.
Voigt’s leadership of the race confirms the popular rider’s recovery from the horrific crash on the descent of the Petit Col du St-Bernard that left him in hospital with concussion and a fractured cheekbone during Stage 16 of last year’s Tour de France.
Sagan and Voigt were among five riders – Joaquim Rodriquez of Katusha, Tony Martin of HTC Columbia and none other than Astana’s Alberto Contador were the others – who followed AG2R’s Nicolas Roche as the Irish champion attacked on the days final climb, the group managing to keep just ahead of the pursuing pack on the 3-kilometre descent to the line. Roche, despite instigating the attack, came a disappointing third.
Billed as The Race to the Sun, Paris-Nice failed to live up to that name today as the departure from Saint Junien was thrown into chaos by snow, which meant that race organisers shortened the route, with the riders instead starting at the 53 kilometre point, reducing the stage to 153 kilometres.
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.